Stephen King is an author that never goes away even when he’s experienced something of a renaissance in pop culture. King’s “It” remains one of his most iconic and easily digestible novels, but peculiarly a book that needs drastic alterations to make it more palatable for film. Andy Muschietti had a bonafide challenge on his hands to deliver a two part film that confronted the terror of loss of innocence, and confronting the demons of the past. It all invariably comes dropping down on the Losers Club with the help of the mercilessly vile Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Damien Leone has been pretty much grooming Art the Clown to become a cult slasher icon since his earlier films. He was even the somewhat paranormal narrator and ghoulish monster that ushered in various mediocre tales of horror for “All Hallow’s Eve” parts one and two. Apparently since the character has garnered some kind of momentum within the horror community, Art gets his spotlight as a bonafide slasher, who delights in viciously murdering people left and right on Halloween night. The results inspired a wholly ambivalent shrug from me overall, I’m sad to say.
After a clown is killed by a virus in Romania, his corpses is brought back to the United States. Not long after, an office building is under attack by vampires and humanity’s only hope is a ragtag crew of inept night watchmen.
Coulrophobics look out, “The Night Watchmen” is easily your worst nightmare come true, but it’s also one of the best horror comedies I’ve seen in a while. Director Mitchell Altieri delivers one of hell of a great horror gore fest that imagines the world overrun by vampire zombie clowns. “The Night Watchmen” is set primarily in an office, and Altieri makes great use of it, picturing the night shift from hell. You could make a sub-genre out of horror movies set in an office work place, these days, but “The Night Watchmen” has a great time making use of the back drop, with the various halls and corners of the office, and the typically monotonous setting.
If you think Rob Zombie is the only director releasing a schlocky survival horror film about evil clowns, you’d be mistaken. Here comes Tom Nagel’s “ClownTown,” a film a group of hapless travelers that wander in to an abandoned town ruled over by psychotic clowns that want to kill them a lot. After an unusual and tacked on prologue that copies John Carpenter’s “Halloween” almost shamelessly, we enter in to the actual tale of a group of friends heading to a concert. When they’re accidentally run off the road in a seemingly abandoned town, they and two other travelers find themselves being victimized and terrorized by psychotic and murderous clowns.
It’s amazing how a man like Rob Zombie who fancies himself a hardcore horror fan has done little to evolve since his first film “House of 1,000 Corpses.” Every film he’s made since that initial movie has repeated the same beats over and over, just re-arranged in various ways to look new and original. He fills the screen with genre veterans again. He inexplicably sets his movie in a mid-seventies gritty trailer park landscape. The opening of his film is directed by a goofy music video, padding the run time, and he even includes something of a montage with our characters, set to classic rock music as we saw in the finale of “The Devil’s Rejects.” Worst of all, he writes some of the clunkiest dialogue I’ve ever heard, and he is still dead set on placing wife Sheri Moon Zombie front and center.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty five years since “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” premiered on Nickelodeon in the US. The anthology horror series is one of the most fondly remembered kids shows of the 1990s mainly for its creative premises, surprise twists, and deeply entrenched moral lessons that were found in many episodes. The history of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” is just as interesting as the show itself. It was the launch pad for many very well known actors, and displayed a shocking sense of edge with every episode.
The show thankfully still holds up today as a creepy and creative horror series, and despite some camp here and there, it’s a still a well written anthology with a ton of memorable monsters including Zeebo, The Ghastly Grinner, and the Frozen Ghost. Here are my top five episodes.
For such a unique premise and concept, it’s surprising how unremarkable “Clown” ends up being, in the end. Despite its best efforts, “Clown” feels like a short film that perhaps should have stayed a short film, as most of its narrative feels spread out to fit a hundred minutes. And I don’t know how they’ll pull off a sequel, if the final scene is any indication. “Clown” probably watches a lot better as a short film, but it breezes through the premise in the first thirty minutes and stops being interesting by the end of the first hour. Kent is an average dad who finds out the clown he had booked for his son’s birthday has cancelled. Anxious to keep his promise of a clown, Kent goes rummaging through his basement and finds a clown suit locked in a mysterious chest.