Martyn Burke’s The Clown Murders is one of those titles that gets tossed around horror movie discussions for two reasons:
-It features a killer dressed like a clown
-It costars a young Canadian named John Candy
Quick Plot: After an extended game of polo, a group of wealthy men with a complicated history (or not? I DON’T KNOW) come up with a dastardly plan for Halloween night. Philip, a work-obsessed lawyer with a bad back, Rosie, a silver spoon-fed jerk with a girl’s name, and Ollie, a John Candy with a sandwich glued to his hands, conspire to dress like circus clowns and help world traveler Charlie kidnap his ex-girlfriend Allison just long enough so she can’t help her entrepreneurial new husband sign some time-sensitive papers at midnight to sell her farm to greedy land developers.
Or maybe that didn’t happen. I mean, what business deal takes place at midnight? And not a minute after? As if there’s a slim window before the harvest moon experiences a lunar eclipse when any signature is rendered obsolete? It doesn’t make sense, you know? And truth be told, characters mumble in this film with less clarity than Liv Tyler in a library, so for all I know, the actual plot involved a chess tournament or creating the perfect recipe for tiramisu.
Assuming that the movie is indeed about the detected plot, it still makes zero logical sense. After the men HILARIOUSLY kidnap Allison and beat up her husband, it doesn’t take more than one newscast to reveal the authorities are, shockingly enough, taking this quite seriously. Rather than go to the police to say “Hey, we played a realllllllly stupid joke and are sorry,” (even though their ‘victim’ is the one who suggests it) the men decide to suspiciously retreat to Allison’s secluded farmhouse and build tension amongst themselves for the rest of the night, occasionally pausing to satisfy monstrous little trick-or-treaters, have super confusing flashbacks in Barbara Walters’ fog filter, or make a fat joke at John Candy’s expense.
Oh, and also, at about 90 minutes into the running time, to elude the level 1 Boy Scout traps of a crazed clown killer whose identity is adorably foreshadowed earlier by a bombastic score and the fact that said suspect is constantly shown cutting the heads off of chickens.
There’s also an Irish leprechaun playing the part of the farmer’s very Irish caretaker.
And did I mention John Candy likes to eat?
Seriously, the last point cannot be ignored. I do not exaggerate when I say that every single line said by or directed at Ollie involves food, be it croissants, doughnuts, peanuts, or a giant ham sub. The only exception? When Ollie sees a light in the distance. That’s not food related at all! Except when Rosie points out that Ollie is probably just spotting a refrigerator door that is opened, and you know what’s inside refrigerators? FOOD THAT FAT OLLIE CAN EAT!
Yup, this is a strange film. And a fairly terrible one, at least based on what dialogue I could make out. Even looking past the film’s lack of technical quality, we’re still stuck with a meandering storyline that spins its rusty wheels until it randomly decides to do something about its horror movie classification. It doesn’t do it well, but at least something actually happens.
You know, men dressed like clowns is always KIND of creepy, even when the men are stupid and the clowns set traps that Franklin Delano Roosevelt could probably elude
Oh goodness. The fact that this is a terrible movie. That’s about it
Cars are not picnic tables (though they’ll work in a pinch)
Nothing ruins a party quite like an unexpected kidnapping
In Canada, cops trust the men they arrest to just seat themselves in the backseat of police cars
John Candy REALLY likes to eat
The Winning Line
“I can’t figure out what’s going on,” says a befuddled police chief upon The Clown Murders’ finale. Was ever a more meta line of dialog spoken? I think not
Gluttons for punishment will find plenty to enjoy in The Clown Murders, be it horrifically unlikable characters in extreme closeup, barely audible dialogue, a plot that a toddler could probably rewrite more sensibly, or a gloriously WTF ending that solves nothing. This is a terrible film, one that seems to wander around dumb character decisions until it gets more bored than its audience and decides, ‘hey, I’ll just be a horror movie! It’s not too late!’
It’s not too late, it’s just still bad.