“Nobody likes a clown at midnight.”
- Stephen King
Coulrophobia appears to be at an all time high right now, with evil clowns reaching heights of popularity we have never seen the likes of before. Rob Zombie has just introduced his new killer clown flick 31 to the wonders of the internet, a big screen remake of Stephen King’s “It” is reportedly in production, and the real world is filling up with juggalos and Northhampton Clown copycats.
Recent horror flicks like Stitches, All Hallow’s Eve and The Last Circus have all tapped into this fast spreading inexplicable fear of clowns to varying degrees of success. And then Circus Of The Dead shows up to teach them all how it is done…
Circus Of The Dead is sure to be two of the dirtiest, most morally-bankrupt, sadistic hours of your life. A film that has no boundaries, and acts only to push yours, this chaotic clown rampage is not one that you will soon forget. Director Billy Pon has earned the nickname “Bloody Bill”, without a doubt.
After a quick introduction to our colorful clowns that instantly let’s us know they mean business, the film gets started inconspicuously enough. We meet the Johnson family, who seem to be the whole package, as they head out for family fun time at the local circus.
Unfortunately for them, this Circus is under the dark influence of Papa Corn and he has his own demented idea of what passes for entertainment. The top-notch performance from Bill Oberst Jr. as “Papa” is a particular stand-out among some of the other slightly underwhelming performances. Mr. Oberst, a ubiquitous mainstay in many modern horror films, attacks this role with demented glee, managing to go from eerily calm to frothing lunatic at a moment’s notice.
At first, Papa Corn appears to select his victim’s somewhat at random, using an old deck of tarot-like cards as the only method to his madness. Described as a variation of “Bingo from Mexico”, Papa sets his eye on the obvious choice at the big top show — the MILF holding a corn dog in one hand and dabbing mustard from her cleavage with the other!
Armed with a staple gun, an electric carving knife, a blowtorch and various other misappropriated tools, Poppa and his crew abduct Johnson’s wife and daughters and proceed to force him to participate in their planned twisted rampage if he ever wants to see them again.
Now when I say “twisted rampage”, I mean it. I consider myself to be a pretty damn jaded horror fan (for better or worse) but a few of these scenes actually had me wincing and cringing with disbelief.
Be warned, this film is not for the easily offended. This is a balls-out, mean-ass horror film!
The director takes the story to places so depraved and sadistic, and there is a level of real cruelty and extreme apathy at work here that is rarely seen in any film. It is as if “Papa Corn” has taken the agent of chaos theory from his fellow cinematic clown “The Joker” to a whole new extreme.
Taking tonal cues from classic exploitation films and amping them up for the new millennium, Circus Of The Dead builds to an insanely hectic stalk and slash climax at an old movie theater playing a double feature of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Jaws”. The clown carnage reaches a bloody crescendo here, and leaves us with one of the most cruel final acts since Frank Darabont’s adaptation of “The Mist”.
If you can take any more, be sure and stay tuned for a surprise after the credits, which revisits Doll-Boy, a character from Bloody Bill’s earlier short film which inspired this feature.
This is a horror film made with passion for fans of dirty old school thrills with a cruel streak. Worth watching for Bill Oberst Jr.’s hypnotic performance alone, the level of anarchy otherwise on display here is more than enough to satisfy gore lovers and cinematic sociopaths of any kind.
Currently touring festivals and making appearances in various theaters in the director’s native Texas, Circus Of The Dead is still looking for the distributor with the balls to release this film to a wide audience.
Stay tuned to the official Circus Of The Dead Facebook page for more news and updates on when you will be able to see this deranged masterpiece for yourselves.
Grade : B+