Heavy Metal Massacre (1989)

Directed by Steven DeFalco [Other horror films: N/A] & Ron Ottaviano [Other horror films: N/A]

Well, this is about as inept as a movie can be. Heavy Metal Massacre is one of those SOV horror films that can be amusing, but ends up more tedious than anything else.

Part of it is a lack of story. No doubt, there is a story – there’s just not much of one. Some metalhead (played by David DeFalco, though credited as Bobbi Young) is killing women, and the police are looking for him. And that’s about it. There’s a little more, primarily revolving around two friends (played by Sami Plotkin and Michele De Santis) who run afoul of the killer, but really, there’s no conclusion to the story, and things just end.

That’s not exactly what makes Heavy Metal Massacre tedious, though. It’s more the constant dull heavy metal (many of the songs performed by an artist credited as The Electric After Burner Band) and really amateurish special effects. I don’t mean special effects as in CGI or anything, I mean in pointless aesthetics that can apparently be done with a video camera, such as changing the contrast or superimposing some scene on top of another, or even a corny blood dripping thing to convey a scene switch.

Really, I’m not a filmmaker, so I don’t have the vocabulary to describe exactly what they do here, but it’s something I’ve never seen in a movie before, and I don’t think it’s hard to figure out why after seeing this.

If I have to give credit for performances, I guess I can say that David DeFalco, despite a complete lack of character, did okay. I mean, he posed in his leather and spikes, staring into the camera with the best of them (that’s literally the first four minutes or so of this movie). Michele De Santis and John Thayer were okay, I suppose. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot of strong points here.

Apparently filmed in Providence, Rhode Island (a fact you can tell by the police cars in the film), Heavy Metal Massacre isn’t a movie without charm, and if someone out there listed this as a guilty pleasure, I could sort of see it. Honestly, the kills weren’t awful – someone getting hit in slow motion with a giant sledgehammer was pretty decent (and in fact, this is the fate that befell two people), and another got #FuckedUp with a chainsaw, so that was all fine and well, but I don’t think that’s near enough to make this palatable.

For a long time, I knew this film would probably end up being a mess, and by all means, Heavy Metal Massacre is. The story is quite uninspired, and given there’s not really much of a conclusion, unsatisfactory. Maybe it’s worth a watch if you’re into SOV horror, but for most people, I think turning it off halfway through, if not sooner, is a more likely fate for this one.


Puppet Master (1989)

Directed by David Schmoeller [Other horror films: Tourist Trap (1979), Crawlspace (1986), Catacombs (1988), The Arrival (1991), Netherworld (1992), Possessed (2005), Little Monsters (2012), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018), Death Heads: Brain Drain (2018), Carnage Collection – Puppet Master: Trunk Full of Terror (2022)]

The Puppet Master series is an interesting one, partially because it’s actually a pretty good batch of movies, and mirroring my opinions on the Friday the 13th series, I think the first movie is one of the weaker entries.

And the funny thing is that’s not even that much of a knock against this one, because Puppet Master is still decent. No doubt it has a quality atmosphere, and with a nice location and moderately enjoyable story, it’s a decent movie. It just doesn’t do as much for me as some of the sequels do.

I always have loved the variety of puppets here. Some of them don’t get too much into the action (such as Jester and one named Shredder Khan), but plenty get some stand-out scenes, such as the most strikingly designed one named Pinhead (picture a tiny head on a damn strong body) and my personal favorite Blade. I never really liked Leech Woman, but Tunneler is damn awesome, and what makes all of this better is that the effects behind the puppets looks great.

I think part of the reason I don’t care for this one quite as much as later films is the fact this feels a decent amount more somber and atmospheric. I don’t mind the atmosphere, to be sure, but it takes a little bit to get going, and it’s never quite the zany fun you might have with future films in the series.

Even so, most of the cast did pretty well. I can take or leave Paul Le Mat (who was also in the underrated Grave Secrets) as the lead, but Robin Frates, Irene Miracle (Inferno), and Kathryn O’Reilly were solid. My favorite non-puppet character was played by Matt Roe, who had such a business-focused mind. And though he only got the opening scene, William Hickey did great as André Toulon, and really sold the fact he cared for the puppets.

None of the deaths in the film are amazing themselves, but there’s a certain enjoyment in seeing a woman beaten to death with a fire poker by a puppet, or seeing the aftermath of a puppet’s drill head drilling into another character. None of these deaths are all that gruesome (aside from maybe the leech one, but that’s because I hate leeches), but some may stick out in your memory well enough.

I think Puppet Master is a decent movie in a pretty decent series. I’ve only seen these films, at least at the point of this writing, up to the 2010 Axis of Evil, and there’s really only two flops that I can remember (2003’s The Legacy and 1999’s Retro Puppet Master). It’s a generally-solid series, and though this beginning isn’t my favorite, it’s a well-made movie, and is worth seeing nonetheless.


Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard [Other horror films: After Darkness (1985), Night Angel (1990), Omen IV: The Awakening (1991), The Hospice (1991)]

For the longest time, I thought of this entry as when the Halloween series started going downhill. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is still an okay movie, and due to a combination of performances and nostalgia, I still sort of like it, but it’s nowhere near as good as any of the previous four films.

I’ve never cared for what they did to some of the characters here. How they deal with Loomis, I can understand – desperation can do odd things. It’s more how they deal with Rachel. I think they could have gotten a lot more out of her, but alas, she’s not in the movie that long, and it doesn’t end with much fanfare. Tina is a nice addition (though I probably would have preferred it if they brought back Leslie L. Rohland’s Lindsey), but like Rachel, she’s not given that much plot to really deal with either.

Regardless of that, I do think the movie moves at a decently brisk pace, and most of it is painless. The mental connection that Jamie has with her uncle, Myers, is a bit odd, as is that tattoo that pops up on Michael’s arm out of nowhere, not to mention the guy in a black coat and steel-tipped boots, but all of that is just set-up for the next film, and doesn’t really matter as far as this one is concerned.

Actually, when I was a kid, I remembered always liking the mystery guy in the steel-tipped shoes. I probably didn’t catch back then that he had a matching tattoo with Michael Myers, but I dug how he just popped up a few random times, and then participated in the surprising finale. Given that nothing is explained here – luckily, the word “Thorn” never comes up – I can see it turning people off, but at least it theoretically gets the audience pumped for the following film.

Donald Pleasence as Loomis is great here. He’s a bit controlling at times, and the way he handles Jamie used to bother me, but after seeing this multiple times, I get that he’s really trying hard to finish this whole thing. Danielle Harris is non-verbal for the first portion of the film, but she does just as well as ever, and during the finale at the Myers’ house, her performance was great.

Other returning faces make less of an impact, such as Beau Starr (Sheriff Meeker) and Ellie Cornell (Rachel). It’s nice to see both of them back, but neither one really does all that much, which is disappointing. Wendy Foxworth (Tina) made for a nice new character, and I love how close she is with Jamie, but she doesn’t really last that long. Other performances worth mentioning include Betty Carvalho and Troy Evans.

Being a Halloween movie, none of the kills are particularly gory, but most of them are pretty fun, such as stabbing a guy with a pitchfork or throwing a guy out of a window to hang. I think the best kill was Myers using a gardening tool (I think it’s called a cultivator, or something like that) and just fucking someone up. What was particularly funny about that scene is that he scraped the guy’s car beforehand, just to piss him off. Good times.

The ending being what it is, Halloween 5 has always felt rather mixed to me. I think the movie goes pretty quickly, and it can be fun to watch, but when you compare it to the previous films in the series, it’s definitely nowhere near as strong. I struggled a bit with the rating, and I don’t really know if the film is above average, but I think it’s close enough that I can be generous. It’s not a bad movie, but if you have access to The Return of Michael Myers, I don’t really know why anyone would watch this instead.


Stepfather II (1989)

Directed by Jeff Burr [Other horror films: The Offspring (1987), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993), Puppet Master 4 (1993), Puppet Master 5 (1994), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), The Werewolf Reborn! (1998), Phantom Town (1999), Straight Into Darkness (2004), Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn! (2005), Devil’s Den (2006), Mil Mascaras vs. Aztec Mummy (2007), Resurrection (2010), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018), American Resurrection (2022), Carnage Collection – Puppet Master: Trunk Full of Terror (2022)]

While not near as good as the first movie (which I have heaped praise upon, and will continue to do so), Stepfather II is still a solid film worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of the first one.

Terry O’Quinn puts in another great performance as the Stepfather, and again, while his scenes were stronger in the first movie, he does a very good job here. He just nails it, from that small scene where he’s listening to the snap-crackle-pop of the Rice Krispies to his musing about the importance of tradition (“If more people stuck with tradition, there’d probably be a lot happier people and a lot fewer divorces”).

I mentioned this in my review for the first film, but I’ll do it again – I find the character of the Stepfather so damn interesting. His old-fashioned view on the world, his desire for the perfect family, but at the same time, how easily he dispatches those who disappoint him and optimistically moves on, hoping to finally find that perfect home, family and all. His origins are hinted at a bit in this one, with him mentioning his father, but we still don’t get that much, which I’m actually fine with. He’s great as is, and O’Quinn really brings him to life. If only it weren’t for that whistling and wine…

Meg Foster is also good here, as is the guy playing her son, Jonathan Brandis, but neither one is quite as captivating as Jill Schoelen (who appeared in flashback form at the beginning, on a side-note). I didn’t notice until just now, amazingly, but Brandis played young Bill Denbrough in the It mini-series. Looking at him now, it’s not clear how I missed it, but there you go. Meg Foster is certainly solid, but again, I wasn’t quite as engaged with her character.

The only other performance to mention is Caroline Williams, who played Stretch in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. She was one of the few things I liked in that movie, and she was similarly pretty enjoyable here, though I probably would have approached the situation she found herself in somewhat differently.

Much like the first movie, the kills here aren’t great. A character getting strangled had some suspense to it, to be sure, and seeing this one guy get pummeled to death was oddly satisfying, but kills were never the strong points for these movies. Perhaps O’Quinn’s breakout of the mental institution was the best sequence, but I digress. The lack of memorable kills never really bothered me with the first film, and it doesn’t bother me now. I would say the overall story, though, isn’t quite as engaging, partially because of the characters.

Stepfather II isn’t near as good as the first movie, but then again, few movies are. This is still a surprisingly solid sequel, and despite it not being great, it’s an enjoyable watch, and if you enjoyed the first one, I can’t imagine this coming across as a big let-down.


This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Stepfather II.

The Dead Next Door (1989)

Directed by J.R. Bookwalter [Other horror films: Robot Ninja (1989), Zombie Cop (1991), Kingdom of the Vampire (1991), Shock Cinema Vol. 3 (1991), Shock Cinema Vol. 4 (1991), Ozone (1993), The Sandman (1995), Polymorph (1996), Witchouse II: Blood Coven (2000), Witchouse 3: Demon Fire (2001), Deadly Stingers (2003)]

This is one of those movies that I’ve wanted to see for quite a long while, but didn’t honestly know that much about. Virtually all I knew about this before going in was that it was a lower-budget zombie movie. I didn’t know, though, how inept it was.

Which is interesting, actually, as I’ve generally heard okay things about The Dead Next Door. I never really heard that many people praise it, but the few times it’s been brought up, people seemed to enjoy it. I can admit that the special effects are somewhat impressive, and the gore is pretty good for a movie of this budget, but everything else is rather lackluster.

It’s a bit of a shame, because the story had potential. It wasn’t amazingly creative or anything, but there were inklings of interest strewn across the plot. Due to a combination of unremarkable characters and some terrible acting, though, even the short run-time of 80 minutes is more a struggle than anything to get through.

Obviously, the lower budget on it’s own didn’t bother me too much. We’re talking Redneck Zombies-level budget here, and it really showed at times (such as some truly awful shots, and they even threw some blood on the camera, which is something I thought only newer bad movies did), but that wasn’t the main concern at all. A low budget, I can deal with. But the stilted and sometimes laughably atrocious acting? It’s a bit harder to swallow.

It’s possible that Bogdan Pecic was the worst, but it’s hard to pinpoint for certain when Robert Kokai (who wore sunglasses during night scenes, which tells you all you need to know about his character) and Roger Graham were also terrible. To be fair, I thought that Jolie Jackunas was almost okay, but overall, we’re talking some really ridiculous acting here. The one-liners were bad enough, but when half the characters are named after famous horror directors/writers (such as Romero, King, Carpenter, and Raimi), it was a hard sell.

Jennifer Mullen and Maria Markovic were both okay, but Markovic’s subplot was entirely wasted. I mean, toward the end, things were falling apart anyway, but even so, they didn’t have a better way to conclude her character’s story? And speaking of which, the one guy who becomes a zombie, with the quote “I’m a zombie now, man” – yeah, I could have done without that exchange. Or really, that whole unnecessary ending, which was just ridiculous.

None of this is to say the movie can’t be amusing in the right setting, because when a movie is this inept, it most certainly can. I mean, these people have been living in a world with zombies for years, now, and they still leave themselves easily open to getting bit? For being a squad of zombie hunters, we’re talking truly inept soldiers, which I guess is a common theme here.

To be sure, the special effects are still mostly solid. I can’t say too much really stands out, but there was a guy getting ripped apart which was pretty satisfying to watch, given the character in question was a major asshole. Still, if you’re watching for just the special effects, may God be with you.

Kudos to the delivery of this line (it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds): “No, it’s not true! It is my religion that is right!” Brought to us by Jon Killough, with the most tepid outburst imaginable.

The Dead Next Door wasn’t really what I was expecting, and while I don’t regret watching it, I can easily say that it wasn’t a movie I could imagine wanting to see again without copious amounts of weed and alcohol accessible nearby. It’s amusing, in it’s own way, but boy, it’s not necessarily an easy movie to get through.


This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Dead Next Door, here you go, brahs.

Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls (1989)

Directed by Katt Shea [Other horror films: Stripped to Kill (1987), Dance of the Damned (1989), The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)]

The first Stripped to Kill wasn’t exactly an amazing movie, but it did possess a decent amount of charm, along with a solid conclusion. This sequel isn’t near as good, and though it’s still certainly watchable, I can’t imagine many people thinking it’s better than the first.

One problem I had was that no actors from the first movie appear, or are even mentioned. If you’re making a sequel, even if you can’t get back any of the original performers, you can at least bring them up in conversation once, but no, with one exception, the only thing this movie shares with the first are the strippers.

The one exception is the character Shirl. In the first movie, this character is played by Diana Bellamy, and she stood out as a rather amusing character. The same can be said for Stripped to Kill 2’s Shirl, played by Virginia Peters. They don’t necessarily look alike, but they do have very similar roles (gathering information which is vital to the finale) and attitudes, so I’m pretty convinced this is supposed to be the same person, which makes it even worse they couldn’t do more to connect this to the first movie.

And to be fair, there’s a stripper here named Mantra, played by Debra Lamb. Lamb appeared in the first movie also, as an unnamed amateur stripper, so it’s likely the same character, but that’s not something I realized until checking IMDb credits, and that fact definitely wasn’t mentioned in the film, but still, thought it was worth pointing out.

Ignoring that, though, the story here isn’t quite as interesting or violent as what we got from the first one. We have a stripper who thinks she’s going crazy and killing people in her sleep (and to be fair, there’s somewhat convincing evidence of that), and a city cop investigating the crime, but can’t stop himself from falling for the stripper. It’s not exactly riveting, and I could have done without the elongated dream sequences (though they make sense come the ending), and overall, the story’s just average.

There’s a few things I like about the ending here, what with the identity of the killer, but especially compared to the first movie, this ending felt pretty tame and simple in comparison. I sort of appreciate the artsy dream sequences (which make me partially wonder if this movie was aiming a bit higher than it might seem on the surface), but there’s a handful of them throughout the film, and as this progressed, they sort of lost their charm.

Eb Lottimer was okay as the main detective. He wasn’t anything special, and ultimately pretty forgettable, but he had a sensual soul. Maria Ford (who appeared in a handful of 1990’s horror, such as The Haunting of Morella, The Unnamable II, Slumber Party Massacre III, and Necronomicon) was okay, but given that she thinks she’s going insane, her performance isn’t always the most stable. Karen Mayo-Chandler was decent, though again, as the movie goes on, I was less enthralled with her. As I mentioned, Virginia Peters was pretty fun, Debra Lamb was maybe the hottest woman there, and Marjean Holden was Something Else.

The kills here are far from great, mainly because we never really see them. It’s true that we might see the aftermath, some blood and a corpse, but as poor as the kills were in the first movie, it certainly outstripped this one (SEE WHAT I DID THERE????).

Stripped to Kill probably never needed a sequel, so with that in mind, Stripped to Kill 2: Live Girls probably outperformed expectations, and to be honest, I did like this a bit more than I thought I would. That said, I doubt it’s a movie that will stay with me long, and I’d mainly recommend people just catch the first movie.


This is one of the film’s covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. To listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, check the video out below.

Pet Sematary (1989)

Directed by Mary Lambert [Other horror films: Pet Sematary II (1992), Strange Frequency (2001), Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005), The Attic (2007), Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)]

I first saw this film before reading the book, so I couldn’t really judge it much against the source material. It didn’t really matter, because I didn’t care much for it, but when I read the book and discovered I didn’t care much for that either, I was interested in seeing this again. And guess what? While I admit it follows the novel pretty close, I still don’t feel much an affinity toward it.

Why is that? Well, I found the book well-written (as is mostly anything of King’s, even the stuff I didn’t like), but the story itself wasn’t really doing it for me at all. Jud was an interesting character, as he is here, but that’s not enough, and some cool imagery (such as the graveyard and the burial ground) don’t make up for that.

The main performances (Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, and Denise Crosby) were all fine, but if the story’s not interesting to me, then I’m not biting. Perhaps the coolest aspects of the book (being the history of the burial ground which Jud delves into, along with the story of Baterman) are really neutered, and the tall shape Louis sees while walking to the burial ground in the book, along with the accompanying insanity, is nowhere to be seen.

At least the ending was moderately unchanged, but I still think the novel did it better, ending on a more open-ended note than did the movie. Another small thing that bothered me was Pascow’s character. At first, it’s fine, but he keeps popping up with the wife near the end, and it bordered on comedic, which really didn’t fit the dark themes of the movie.

I’m not a fan of this movie, I don’t think it’s horrible, but both before and after reading the novel, it does little for me (and to be fair, the same can be said for the novel), and that’s problematic. I know that many out there enjoy this, but Pet Sematary doesn’t work for me.


B.O.R.N. (1989)

Directed by Ross Hagen [Other horror films: Reel Horror (1985), Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990)]

I wasn’t really expecting that much from this movie, mainly because I thought that if it had been one of the unsung films of the 1980’s, I’d have heard about it by now. Well, either I’m listening in the wrong places, or I got a lot more out of B.O.R.N. than others did, because I found this movie superb.

Better known as Merchants of Death (which is the title it can most commonly be found under, it seems), B.O.R.N. (which stands for Body Organ Replacement Network) is a pretty damn dark movie for being a Troma release. When I heard that Troma jingle at the beginning, I was batting down the hatches for another Frostbiter or Blades, but instead, we have a pretty somber movie, with the appropriate soundtrack to boot.

For a movie that’s as low-budget as this one, the soundtrack is really impressive. It beautifully encapsulates the 1980’s, and helps the movie push a darker feel. The one vocal track in the film, a song by Jenifer Smith Meisner called ‘How Do You Begin,’ is a depressing ballad which first plays as a father muses over his three recently-abducted daughters, and boy, is it effective.

Obviously, the story itself isn’t really special, what with a father and a retired police detective trying to track down some missing girls, who were kidnapped by a black market organ syndicate, and you can sort of tell some things were rushed, but the performances here really pull a lot of it together.

I’ll get this out of the way first, though, because I hate to say it: Of all the performances, the one that did the most damage was P.J. Soles (of Halloween fame, totally), because of all the characters here, she felt the most overly and unforgivably evil, not to mention hammy. If we had maybe gotten a little background on her, it might of helped, but no such luck.

Everyone else was generally commendable, though. Playing the bereft father, Ross Hagen was great, and you really felt for his character as he was put through the wringer (and then some). Hoke Howell, who played the aforementioned retired detective, didn’t move me at first, but over the course of the film, I grew to appreciate him.

As much as I liked Hagen, it’s Russ Tamblyn’s character who really got to me. Much like Soles, his character is a bit over-the-top in his sinister nature, and he does abominable stuff in the film, but toward the end, when another character is beating him, he sort of breaks down, though he doesn’t cry, because his father didn’t want him to cry when he beat him. God, for a movie like this, you wouldn’t expect an emotional suckerpunch like that, but we got one.

Two others I wanted to briefly mention are William Smith and Clint Howard. William Smith is a big name, and his IMDb credits boasts nearly 300 appearances, and while this certainly isn’t one that he’ll be remembered for, playing the black market doctor, Smith is decently fun, though he doesn’t matter quite as much as many other characters. Related, while it was nice to see Clint Howard (Ice Cream Man has long been what I’ve best known him for), his character didn’t add much to the film, though had the story went a different route, he could have.

B.O.R.N. is a hell of a lot more somber than I ever expected, and there are some surprising and heart-wrenching deaths and scenes in this film that seem entirely inappropriate for a movie made on as small a budget as this was. I loved the whole vibe of this one, and while I wish there were a few changes, I think to Tamblyn and Hagen’s performances, and I forget them. Maybe it’s just me, but this was very much worth watching, and I’d definitely do so again.


DeepStar Six (1989)

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham [Other horror films: Case of the Full Moon Murder (1973), Friday the 13th (1980), A Stranger Is Watching (1982), The New Kids (1985), XCU: Extreme Close Up (2001), Trapped Ashes (2006, segment ‘Jibaku’)]

I’ve seen this one once before, and I feel that not much has changed insofar as my view on this aquatic adventure: while much of the story is decently fun, and some of the performances are memorable, I think the film is about as average as it gets.

My only complaint, really, with the story is how, for much of the middle portion of the film, DeepStar Six feels more like an underwater action film as opposed to anything resembling horror. I have nothing against action films (if I did, you better believe this would be getting a lower rating), but that type of focus took away from what I came into this movie for. Once the underwater beast pops up again in the final twenty minutes or so, things pick up nicely.

Many performances are certainly memorable, if not entirely enjoyable. Greg Evigan (who appeared a few years previously in Stripped to Kill) was pretty good as the focal point, though I don’t know if he’s overly memorable. Taurean Blacque (who was a long-standing star on the series Hill Street Blues) was rather great, and I wish the guy had gotten a bit more screen-time. Of course, I think the most memorable guy here is Miguel Ferrer (who later appeared in The Stand mini-series and 1997’s enjoyable The Night Flier), who was pretty fun throughout, and pretty much one of my favorite characters. Others I enjoyed to varying degrees include Nia Peeples, Matt McCoy, and Elya Baskin (also in Air Force One, an enjoyable Harrison Ford flick).

The special effects are overall pretty good. I don’t really love the design of the underwater creature menacing the crew, but plenty of the deaths are really solid, a few bordering on gruesome (such as the death due to lack of depressurization). I just wish there wasn’t such a lengthy period of time that more focused on a disaster-type situation.

Directed by Sean S. Cunningham (of Friday the 13th fame), I can’t necessarily pinpoint why I don’t like DeepStar Six anymore than I do, but it’s much the same as when I first saw it. That said, I certainly don’t dislike the film, so I’d probably call this a perfect example, at least in my view, a very average movie with some good and some mediocre.


Clownhouse (1989)

Directed by Victor Salva [Other horror films: The Nature of the Beast (1995), Jeepers Creepers (2001), Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), Rosewood Lane (2011), Haunted (2014), Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)]

As far as the plot’s concerned, there’s not really a lot to Clownhouse. Over the course of a few hours, three escaped mental patients, dressed up as clowns, terrorize three brothers in a large house. That’s pretty much it, but it works out well do to the solid tension and suspense through the film.

A large part of whether or not someone’s likely to find this creepy may be their feelings on clowns. Personally, I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen a clown in person, but I always felt they were a bit on the sinister side. There’s a lot of great scenes in this film showing these clowns in the background, or their gloved hands, and it’s rather creepy much of the time.

The three brothers (played by Nathan Forrest Winters, Brian McHugh, and Sam Rockwell, the only one to make a career of acting) really act like brothers, with their constant bickering, some of it rather mean-spirited, and I certainly got the sense that while there were often unkind toward each other, deep down there was love there. Personally, I think all three brothers did pretty well – Rockwell was rather funny at times, McHugh showed solid sensitivity and maturity, and Winters, despite his oldest brother constantly picking on him, really fought back against the horrors they were facing.

It’s not until the final thirty minutes when all three brothers actually realize there are clowns prowling their property, but that doesn’t mean the movie was slow or without tension beforehand. The escaped mental patients really are messed up and creepy, especially their leader, played by Michael Jerome West (credited for some reason as ‘Tree’). The three of them, though West is most notable by far, are unsettling throughout the movie, and despite the plot not really being much, they make a lot out of it.

There are plenty of really solid scenes here, such as the fortune teller sequence (which really showcases the personalities of the brothers well), the scene in which the oldest and youngest brothers are walking to a store to pick up some popcorn (loved the clown chase here), and the scene early on with the real clowns in the circus show. With the music and the close-up on his face, that scene is still unsettling. And let’s not forget the scene in which the youngest kid first sees the clowns outside – again, damn creepy stuff.

Clownhouse doesn’t have that much going for it in terms of gore, but much like Halloween, it really doesn’t need any, as the tension carries it. I also love the music here, too – upbeat, jovial, carnival music, it really works well with the film and ratchets up the intensity.

When I first saw this film some years back, I was rather impressed with it. Seeing it again, even from a blurry and out-of-sync audio/video VHS rip, Clownhouse still impresses me. The director, Victor Salva, went on to direct what many consider a modern-day classic, Jeepers Creepers. Here, he made a solid film which isn’t demanding insofar as length goes, and is a rather enjoyable movie. It’s a shame that, given Salva’s history of sexual abuse, that this movie will likely never be given the praise it may well deserve. As for me, I quite enjoy this one.


This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.