I really can’t recommend this film at all, but I feel a strange obligation to those who are looking during this Halloween season for something that is cross-the-line, truly, honestly, icky. Clownhouse is this, but sadly for much more than you realize. On occasion I choose a film that is disturbing to its core, based on how it makes you feel inside and the complete dread it induces (Sinister, Martyrs, Inside, etc.) Today, I’m choosing another film that has this effect, but to be completely honest, it makes you feel even more awful then the others because there is reality involved. These visceral emotions are because of two reasons — one is the pure reaction to the film itself (which I will talk about mainly), and the other is because of the sad reality that took place behind the scenes of this film (which I hardly want to tackle at all, but must mention.) First, let’s just talk about the film itself. Clownhouse is a messed up movie. I know nowadays it seems like a cliché to be afraid of clowns, but this movie did it earlier than most of the hoopla, and they did it right. The premise is simple, three escaped mental patients kill some circus performers and disguise themselves as clowns in order to hide. From here on they stalk and terrorize some young boys in a house (remember this premise, it will seem WAY more disturbing in a moment.) Clownhouse succeeds as the film that has the most “clown moments” per minute than any film I’ve ever seen. It is terrifying how many times in the background of a shot, a slightly out of focus clown is just staring, watching, or moving around slowly. Honestly, it will give even the biggest clown lover (as if those even exist) utter nightmares. I remember watching it as a kid and not sleeping afterward at all. But sadly, this is where the icky part comes into play, and why this film will forever live in infamy. In 1989, when it was filmed, the director Victor Salva was arrested for forcing and filming the 12 year old lead boy, and star of this film, into “lewd and lascivious conduct.” He was sent to prison and the film got buried. In a movie where psychotic clowns stalk a 12 year old boy, behind the scenes in reality, a psychotic director actually did way worse things to the same kid. It’s just unforgivable. Like I said, I hate the recommend it, but I have to because honestly, the film holds a unique stature of being truly and honestly disturbing on so many levels. If this is what you’re looking for, look no further. It’s about as messed up as it gets.


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