Category Archives: Horror-Comedy Films

Killer Klowns from Outer Space-1988

Killer Klowns from Outer Space-1988

Director-Stephen Chiodo

Starring-Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder

Scott’s Review #1,169

Reviewed August 6, 2021

Grade: B-

A film surely only meant to be viewed late at night and/or in a hallucinated or otherwise drugged state for maximum pleasure, Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) is not to be taken seriously.

It does contain great imagination.

It’s kind of a take-off of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) with a wretched 1980’s look. It’s a fun film but as odd and pointless as they come. There is no explanation offered for the villain’s behavior nor is one really necessary. There is also no political message or motivation.

It’s like someone thought of the weirdest possible gimmick and made a film about it.

For a horror film, the body count is very high but there is little gore. Unsurprisingly, it has found a permanent home in the genre cult classic category, forever to be dusted off when in need of the wacky or absurd.

Teenage lovebirds Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) see a comet crash outside their quiet, small-town one late night. They investigate and discover a pack of murderous aliens who look exactly like circus clowns. When they do the right thing and warn the local authorities, everyone assumes their story is a prank.

Meanwhile, the clowns attempt to harvest and eat as many people as they can. When they kidnap Debbie, Mike decides to set out himself to rescue her and stop the bloody rampage. This leads to an epic battle between Mike and his friends and the clowns.

The Chiodo Brothers, who wrote and directed Killer Klowns from Outer Space, are primarily known for special effects, stop motion, and clay modeling and the film uses these techniques heavily. The wonky and lumbering clowns possess sinister smiles and quirky cotton candy cocoons to keep their prey.

Hardly are they directorial or screenplay masters so the film feels extremely experimental in many regards. The storyline is basic and the villains have only one modus operandi. The character development is nill and the acting poor.

Is anyone surprised?

The key to the enjoyment of Killer Klowns from Outer Space is that it knows it is a B-movie and embraces the classification. Avoiding all seriousness is arguably what makes it a marginal success. One can sit back and laugh at it as one would rib an old friend. It is acceptable to both parties.

The clowns, or Klowns, are the real star of the film. It’s fun to view these odd creatures and admire their costumes. This is the creativity of the film coming out and the Chiodo Brothers are masterful at this. One part scary and one part goofy their lavish costumes are bright and colorful. The creatures themselves are ugly as sin, big and lumbering.

Predictably, the film writes the supporting characters as stereotypical as possible, and maybe that’s the fun in it all. Farmer Gene Green (cool name!) believes Halley’s comet is the strange glowing object falling to earth. He and his dog are quickly harvested. The police officers are curmudgeons and disbelieving of the teenagers. Various friends of Mike and Debbie are cast as one would think for a horror film.

The final climax is the best part of the film when an ice cream truck is used as a weapon against the clowns until a myriad of pies starts falling from the skies. Anyone watching the film while stoned would gleefully laugh.

Recommended for the adventurous cinema lover who wants to delve into the bizarre, late-night campy horror territory. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) is mesmerizing in its absurdity and harkens back to 1950s science fiction.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow-2020

The Wolf of Snow Hollow-2020

Director-Jim Cummings

Starring-Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome

Scott’s Review #1,166

Reviewed July 28, 2021

Grade: B

Jim Cummings, who writes, directs, and stars in his self created horror-comedy offering about a killer werewolf, delivers a film named The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020) which has sprinklings of both Fargo (1996) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) mixed in with an appropriate amount of comic moments to offset the stark horror.

While the film can be watched and enjoyed any time of year, the snowy drifts and the Christmas and New Year’s seasons are well-positioned for a holiday horror feast. Especially clever is the inclusion of the song Auld Lang Syne during the finale of the film.

The film excels at offering a compelling locale and set trimmings.

To further the point and emphasize the Fargo comparisons, the setting is wintery Utah and many of the characters resemble those found in the Coen brothers film. The kooky police force, the odd characters, and the snowy plains are a nice nod to the film.

A small-town cop, John Marshall (Jim Cummings) struggling with a failed marriage, alcoholism, a rebellious daughter, and an inept team of officers, is assigned with solving a series of brutal murders that are occurring only during a full moon. As he’s consumed by the hunt for the killer, he struggles to deal with his sick father, played by Robert Forster, who is also the acting sheriff.

Are the murders being committed by a werewolf or someone donning a disguise? Part of the fun for the audience is the guesswork. Just the premise alone of a werewolf on the loose in a small town is compelling.

The film is a bit all over the place from a plot perspective. Besides the main plot of the murders and the subsequent whodunit, that should be enough to satisfy a quick one hour and twenty-three-minute running time. The relationship between father and son is touching and is a win. Since Forster died shortly after the film was made this adds even more poignancy.

There are some loose ends however that either doesn’t add up or are too predictable. The frequent shots of an unnamed townsperson suspected of the killings, who lives with a wolf and takes drugs are way too obvious a red herring. Spoiler alert- he’s not the killer. And Marshall’s daughter sneaking out to a car to have sex with a boyfriend is an obvious plot ploy for her to be attacked.

I’m not sure why so many films present police officers as either being incompetent, unintelligent, or corrupt but The Wolf of Snow Hollow is guilty as charged with some clear cliches meant to be humorous.

The film is still enjoyable and never boring. Lots of dark comedic elements lighten things up like when John flies into rages or banters with his father or female police officer and sidekick Officer Julia, played by Riki Lindhome.

The mystery of the killer is compelling and the final sequence is enthralling. I was immediately engrossed with the first scene when a  young pair visit the snowy town and dine in a local eatery preparing to embark on a romantic weekend. The assumption is these two are the main characters but when the girl is murdered things charter in a different direction.

On a quick inclusion note when a townsperson utters an anti- LGBTQ+ slur he is railed at by a character though no gay characters actually appear.

The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020) is an entertaining affair. It borrows from some other films but resurrects the werewolf storyline which is intriguing in itself. Since Cummings took on the bulk of this film himself I’m curious what else he will bring to the cinematic table, in the horror genre or otherwise.

Ready or Not-2019

Ready or Not-2019

Director-Tyler Gillett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin

Starring-Samara Weaving, Adam Brody

Scott’s Review #1,040

Reviewed July 16, 2020

Grade: B+

A hybrid of dark comedy, horror, and whodunit, Ready or Not (2019) is a splatter of a good time. Witty and macabre, the film is patterned after Knives Out (2019), Clue (1985), and the television series Riverdale, with a dash of Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2 (2003-2004) peppered in for good measure. The results are fantastic, gory and fun and the pacing is on point. The best aspect is the unpredictability factor as the conclusion cannot be drawn and the audience willingly plunges along for a thrilling ride eager to see what happens next.

The film begins with a mysterious flashback. A young boy living in a vast mansion is confronted by an injured man begging for help. The boy cries out for his family who shoots the man dead. Decades later, happier events transpire as Alex (Mark O’Brien) and Grace (Samara Weaving) enjoy a lavish wedding at the Le Domas family estate. Alex’s family is super rich, and he asks Grace if she is sure she wants to join the family. Why wouldn’t she welcome a life of pampering and all the money she can imagine? She readily tells Alex that, yes, she is sure she wants to marry him.

After the wedding, Alex and Grace are summoned by the family to partake in a game, a family tradition. Grace will choose a card, and everyone will play that game. When Grace chooses the Hide-and-Seek card the reactions are morose. When she gleefully trots off at midnight to hide, she assumes it is an innocent game. She quickly realizes that the family is determined to kill her as part of an ancient legend involving a deal to keep the family money secure. Grace spends the night being pursued by members of the family while the household staff are accidentally killed off.

Being a horror film, the rosy start to the film (the wedding) is delicious and short-lived, as any fan of the horror genre knows that dreary events are soon in store. The fun is waiting for the other shoe to drop and the body count to begin rising. Ready or Not succeeds most when Grace is being pursued and when she emerges from the dumb waiter thinking she will give up the game and enjoy a good night’s sleep are spectacular. A house-nanny is shot by a doltish family member who mistakes her for Grace, cowering behind a bed. At that moment the bride realizes she is screwed.

The final thirty minutes of Ready or Not takes a different turn as victimized Grace turns into revenge seeking Grace. Think Carrie White at the prom after being soaked with pig blood. As Grace lumbers through the mansion in her blood streak white gown, happy to kill any one of the filthy rich family members, she has the most fun pummeling Alex’s mother, Becky Le Domas (Andie MacDowell), to death with a box, which he gets to witness. Revenge Grace is like Uma Thurman’s the Bride in the Kill Bill double-feature.

Released the same year as Knives Out (2019), both films treat the wealthy characters the same, making them as shallow and unlikable as humanly possible. Insipid, money-hungry, and impolite, they treat each other as badly as those considered beneath them. Daniel (Adam Brody), may turn out to be Grace’s knight in shining armor but can he be trusted? Can Alex?

Snippets of the 1985 comedy Clue emerge as secret passageways are revealed and one death is reminiscent of the singing telegram girl death, as the character leaps into the room only to be instantly killed. It’s a fun scene and not too seriously intended, which makes it enjoyable. The goth nature of series Riverdale also comes into play with the modern trimmings and dark ambiance.

Ready or Not (2019) successfully produces what it intends to. An entertaining, cleverly written horror yarn. With a clear feminist stance and oozing with wealth and glamour, the rich people are horrible and ultimately get what they deserve. This is satisfying to the viewer despite the silly motivations of the family. Played for laughs, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously despite a subdued lesson in over-indulgences and entitlement. A crackling fun late-night offering.

Bride of Chucky-1998

Bride of Chucky-1998

Director-Ronny Yu

Starring-Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif

Scott’s Review #680

Reviewed September 11, 2017

Grade: D+

Bride of Chucky is the fourth installment in the famed late 1980’s Child’s Play hit franchise. The late 1980s was not the best time for the horror genre in general, but the film was quite the highlight in a slew of duds.

By this time in the series, (1998), the child/victim of the doll premise is dropped in favor of dark humor, thus the series immerses itself more into the horror-comedy arena. A treat is the inclusion of a fantastic hard rock soundtrack led by the Rob Zombie classic, Living Dead Girl, adding some points to the film’s final grade, otherwise have been more dismal.

The film is certainly not great and I find perverse pleasure in reviewing poor films. However, Bride of Chucky does have its place- as a late Saturday night viewing choice amid strong cocktails it contains a certain charm. Not to be taken seriously, the placement of a love interest for Chucky gives the film macabre romantic humor. Still, the film suffers from lackluster acting and quickly turns into drivel by the time the credits finally roll.

The action picks up from where Child’s Play 3 leaves off and the appearance of Chucky is now a weathered, stitched appearance that gives the doll a more gruesome and maniacal look- this works given the elimination of a child lead character.

Left for evidence in a police compound, Chucky is stolen by Tiffany Valentine, played by Jennifer Tilly. The girlfriend of a deceased serial killer, Tiffany is convinced that the spirit of her boyfriend exists within Chucky and she is determined to bring him back to life using a voodoo ritual. When the act finally works, Chucky and Tiffany reunite, but shortly afterward, Tiffany is also turned into a doll and the duo sets out on a killing spree.

The best aspect of the film is the camaraderie between Tilly and actor Brad Dourif, who voices Chucky. The duo has a light, comic banter that is fun to watch, as well as fantastic chemistry. Granted the actors only voice the dolls for a large part of the film, but their back and forth works well.

This is what makes Bride of Chucky tongue in cheek- let’s face it, with talking dolls as your main characters, director Ronny Yu wisely avoids making the killings too grisly or heavy-handed, but rather, frequently uses quips and one-liners throughout the film.

As Chucky and Tiffany slice and dice their way to Hackensack, New Jersey, their motivations are to embody a neighborhood boy, Jesse, and his girlfriend Jade, played by a young Katherine Heigl.

Along the trek, the foursome is faced with ludicrous obstacles, such as the brief introduction of a con artist couple who meet their doom by flying shards of glass after stealing Jesse’s money. The side story of Jade’s overprotective police chief Uncle, played by a miscast John Ritter, does not work at all. His schemes to plant marijuana in Jesse’s van are little more than plot-driven machinations to advance the thin plot.

The characters of Jesse and Jade are trivial and secondary and Heigl’s acting is particularly garish to say nothing of the lack of any chemistry between Heigl and actor Nick Stabile. In fact, Heigl seems to wear a pout throughout the entire film. But, not to worry, these characters are as meaningless as all the others.

The gimmick ending, surely meant to “spawn” yet another sequel is as interesting as it is grotesque and a small highlight in a poor film. Bride of Chucky provides a nice lineage to the history of the franchise, a killer musical score, and decent chemistry among the leads, but also suffers a similar fate of many horror films, especially sequels- poor acting, a silly tone, and no character development.

Piranha-2010

Piranha-2010

Director-Alexandre Aja

Starring-Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames

Scott’s Review #529

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Reviewed November 29, 2016

Grade: C-

2010’s Piranha is a tongue-in-cheek (I hope!) horror comedy that saves itself from being complete drivel by having some sense of humor.

Remarkably, it stars some decent talents- Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, and Elisabeth Shue. The film is pure fluff- not high art in the least, with nary a message or a purpose to be found.

The film is basically terrible, but kind of fun at the same time. It’s complete camp and not to be taken at all seriously. The plot is simplistic and standard horror fare- a school of piranhas are unleashed after an underwater earthquake, kill a fisherman, and ravage a college vacation party on a lake.

The college kids come to Lake Victoria to party and lounge on the beach, and typically, are dressed precariously. They are unceremoniously ripped to shred by the angry and hungry killer fish.

Shue and Rhames must have hit rough times, and have required a paycheck to star in this. They play a Sheriff and Deputy- laughably unbelievable- as they try to protect the beach-goers from a grisly fate. Dreyfuss plays a ridiculous and unnecessary role as the aforementioned fisherman.

On a serious (and sour) note, the objectifying of women is shocking in this day and age. Haven’t we seen enough stereotypes for one lifetime? A few cool kills and humor, but basically a dumb, popcorn horror film.

Dawn of the Dead-1978

Dawn of the Dead-1978

Director-George A. Romero

Starring-David Emge, Ken Foree

Scott’s Review #289

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Reviewed November 26, 2015

Grade: B+

One of the better installments by the famed horror-comedy director, George A. Romero, though inferior to my personal favorite film of his, Night of the Living Dead, Romero focuses slightly more on the comedy aspect with Dawn of the Dead, though for horror fans, there is plenty of gore to satisfy the more blood-thirsty viewer. This film is glossier and slicker than its predecessor was.

On a slightly larger budget than Night of the Living Dead,  the events largely take place in suburban Pennsylvania, and more specifically, a local mall. An unknown phenomenon has made non-buried humans change form into flesh-eating zombies that prey on other human beings.

A group of survivors hunker down in a suburban mall and begin a life of adequacy-utilizing the contents of the mall until events threaten their existence. They must form a militant operation in order to continue to survive.  The four survivors are Stephen and Francine- two staff members of a local television station- and Roger and Peter- two SWAT team members whom they meet in the ensuing chaos. The quartet steals a helicopter and travels a short distance to the mall.

Having viewed Dawn of the Dead on multiple occasions, I am a fan of the film, but not an enormous fan, and it hovers below my Top 25 Horror Films list.  The main flaw of the film is how it delves into the personal lives of Stephen and Francine midstream, a fact I find meaningless and in fact, stalls the plot. Francine has realized that she is pregnant and I just do not understand the point of slowing down the action for this purpose. I am a huge fan of character development (even in the horror genre!), but this development does not work.

Still, the lengthy portion of the film, and with a running time of over two hours (highly unusual for horror), I am enamored with. The scenes in the mall are fantastic and the action in the final act is thrilling. Reminiscent of my youth and spending hours as a child, along with my mother and siblings, being paraded around the local mall, the look of the mall in Dawn of the Dead brings back a flood of memories. From the fake green plants to the mannequins, the pool of water filled with coins, and, of course,  the redundant, but lovely Muzak in the background.

Romero, as he did with Night of the Living Dead, provides a social element to the film. In the case of Dawn of the Dead, it is the onset of materialism and consumerism that captured the United States in the late 1970s and the 1980’s that he focuses on, and it took me a couple of viewings to catch onto this point- the zombies stupidly walking around the mall in a numbing fashion mirroring how many people did during the day. One character mentions that the zombies are drawn to the mall because it is familiar- much like people frequented the malls in that time period frivolously spending away their time and their money.

Some of the deaths, including one main character, are haunting. As the character suddenly “turns”, it is frightening to see them in this new light as compared to how they once were. And, in comic fashion, my favorite zombie character is the nurse. Clad in nurse-gear (white shoes, classic nurse cap, and white uniform) she is creepy yet mesmerizing in her body and facial expressions as she lumbers around the mall. It makes me smile each time I see her.

Dawn of the Dead is certainly one of the better, more interesting zombie movies around- I just wish the relationship drama, mainly in the center of the film, had been derailed or modified, as it slows down the pacing of the film. Still, a good, fun, late-night flick.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Director-Griff Furst

Starring-Robert Englund

Scott’s Review #267

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Reviewed August 16, 2015

Grade: D

To say that Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is a bad film is being generous. It is poorly made, written, and acted. Containing every horror and comedy cliché in the book, it is clearly not a film to take seriously, and is best watched late at night amongst adult spirits.

The premise is ludicrous, the acting way overdone, and all characters are “types” and one-dimensional. Having seen the original Lake Placid and Anaconda films (and they were not so great themselves), I was unaware that this is actually the fifth film for both franchises and is a crossover.

Premiering on the Syfy network in mid 2015, it is a made for television feature, and the lack of any real gore is apparent for this reason. Robert Englund and Yancy Butler, stars of other installments of the franchise, make return appearances. Sadly, no Betty White or Jennifer Lopez (stars of the original Lake Placid and Anaconda respectively) in this one.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is not trying to be great art or necessarily art at all, but rather an idiotic late night experience. I did not rate the film a solid F since it knew what it was and did not try to take itself too seriously, which I respect at least.

The story begins in the middle of the woods near Clear Lake, Maine, as an illegal experiment is occurring inside a truck. Serum is being illegally extracted from a sedated crocodile to sell to a giant corporation for profit. Jim Bickerman (played by horror legend Englund) has been paid handsomely to provide information in order for the plot to happen.

A villainous corporate schemer is on hand to oversee the events. Inevitably, something goes wrong and the crocodile wakes up and gets loose, encountering large anacondas, who are also on the loose. From this point, we are introduced to other inane characters that round out the film, including a group of bitchy sorority sisters on their way to Clear Lake presumably to pledge and party, and Sheriff Reba (Yancy Butler) and her bumbling team of police officers. Also integral to the story is one of the sorority sister’s (Bethany) father, Will, who attempts to help Sheriff Reba rescue everyone from the killer reptiles.

Side stories include the laugh out loud pledge attempts by some of the sorority wannabees (one is forced to dig a hole in the sand large enough for her to hide in within 20 minutes), a friendship between the only two sensible girls, Bethany and Margot, a high leveled female executive intent on capturing the serum for riches, and a burgeoning romance between Reba and Will.

Silly personified, the film is meant to be goofy and the actors play their roles as they are foolishly written. There is not a shred of realism to the film and none of the characters have any depth. The worst offender from a character standpoint, is humorously my favorite. Tiffani is the comically vicious sorority queen. With her constant berating of the new pledges, she regularly demands that they get in the water and swim for her entertainment. Ultimately, the girls are attacked by the crocodile in the water, allowing for multiple camera shots of the girls swimming underwater while scantily clad. Is this a 1980’s low budget horror throwback? When the crocodile emerges to land the remaining girls flee for safety.

In a hilarious scene, Tiffani and one of her minion’s are cornered by the vicious crocodile. The minion asks what they should do and Tiffani replies with, “I have an idea”, and promptly pushes the minion towards the crocodile where she is chewed to bits allowing Tiffani to escape. Later, predictably, Tiffani receives her comeuppance.

I find myself perplexed as to why this film was even made. Clearly, made on a shoe-string budget, with dated CGI effects, little blood, and a preposterous plot. One is to assume that the franchise’s predecessors were similar ventures.

Laced with one dumb scene after another and tough to take at all seriously, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is as poor filmmaking as they come, but certainly to be taken with a grain of salt and enjoyed for its campy badness. Art, hardly, but rather a fluff horror-comedy for a boozy Saturday night.

An American Werewolf in London-1981

An American Werewolf in London-1981

Director-John Landis

Starring-David Naughton, Griffin Dunne

Scott’s Review #253

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Reviewed July 2, 2015

Grade: B-

A melding together of British-American horror and comedy, An American Werewolf in London provides entertainment while being a campy and silly comedy.

While two American buddies, Jack and David, traverse the countryside of England with backpacks in tow, a spring break jaunt of sorts, one is viciously attacked and killed by a strange werewolf setting off a series of strange occurrences that play out over the remainder of the film.

From this point, the film is told from the perspective of one of the males as the other appears to him in visions warning of his inevitable demise into a werewolf.

An American Werewolf in London does not intend to mock the genre of horror but is certainly campy and over-the-top. Despite cult classic accolades being thrust upon the film, it is not among my favorites.

I would have preferred it tilt more towards the horror classification rather than the comedy because it comes across as some sort of a spoof as the main characters overact. The film has a silly quality to it. It is light fare instead of dark or morbid and even the kills are meant to be fun, not horrific. In a way, it is almost cheesy and that is not a compliment.

This is not to say that the film is completely subpar. It is decent, but not very believable and I think that is a distraction and a missed opportunity. However, my favorite characteristics of this film are the makeup/special effects and the musical score which features such fitting treats as “Moondance”, “Bad Moon Rising”, and “Blue Moon”. Sense an intelligent theme? The makeup, especially during the reanimation sequences is creative and still impressive today considering the film was made in 1981.

Besides, the best scene of the film is undoubtedly the “Slaughtered Lamb” scene when Jack and David stumble upon the aptly named pub filled with interesting, blue-collar-looking locales.

When one of the tourists inquires about a mysterious five-pointed star on the wall the pub dwellers become angry and cold leading the young men to be confused and intrigued. This scene is filled with interest and I only wish the pub characters had more of a chance to shine as they seem benevolent and filled with potential backstory.

I would have enjoyed learning more history about these folks. Sadly, the focus is by and large on Jack and David and a poorly constructed love interest- Nurse Alex Price, who is not to be taken at all seriously and played for one-dimensional laughs.

A lighthearted, sort of fun late-night flick, An American Werewolf in London is a cult film, though I would not agree with the cult classic distinction.

Oscar Nominations: Best Makeup (won)