First an announcement: If you’re a filmmaker and you haven’t submitted your flick to the World Drive-In Movie Festival, the deadline’s in about three weeks (July 14th). I did a video explaining everything to everyone that you can find here:
Don’t wait much longer to start shooting your movie, because remember that that there’s that whole sound and editing thing to do as well. Yeah, Jamboree guest of honor Roger Corman was able to do
Little Shop of Horrors in record time, but he had three cameras, two crews and the sets already made — you don’t want to be cutting it close. As you all know, there’s a lot at stake here, namely the hallowed Hubbie, so get going!
With those formalities out of the way, I know it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a flick as we’ve been busy getting the Jamboree and the World Drive-In Movie Festival into shape. That changes this week and hopefully continues through the summer. I’ve had almost three people write in personally saying that they’ve missed reading my stuff. One thing we hate doing here is disappointing folks, especially when one of them is my mom, so we’re back.
Writer/director Todd Sheets has been doing exploitation-type stuff for a long, long time dating back 30-some odd years to 1991’s Sorority Babes in the Dance-a-Thon of Death. Nope, that was not a lost sequel to the classic sorority babe movie that was featured on Joe Bob’s original Last Drive-In marathon, but it did establish Sheets as one of our kind of folks who isn’t afraid to take a drive-in concept he likes, drill a bunch of holes in it and then find some bolts to attach something else that may or may not make sense.
I’ve checked out his work before in the anthology Hi-Death a while back when he did the last full segment about an artist guy who is in a dumpy hotel room, aardvarks a hooker who gets killed and resurrected, gets aardvarked by her reanimated corpse some more and then a bunch of H.P. Lovecraft monsters destroy the city because the aardvarking unlocked a portal or woke Cthulhu up outside Burbank or something.
So here comes Clownado, which is like another “-nado” movie that blew into the cultural zeitgeist on a certain cable network that chose to rebrand with a deliberate misspelling of Sci-Fi because those two extra keystrokes are killer. Sheets’ flick came out in 2019 when creepy clowns were the rage thanks to It and a bunch of German media reports, but maybe, just maybe, it’s inspired by a shadowy true experiment done by the U.S. government where they tried to control the weather by chucking clowns into tornadoes to save the American Midwest.
Hey, that’s what Sharknado franchise director Anthony Ferrante said happened when he was on The Last Drive-In. See what you miss out on when you don’t watch?
Clownado starts out the first 10 minutes like it’s a film noir with folks talking like they’re in a 1930s gangster meeting, some Creepshow lighting, then the next three minutes pay homage to Blood Sucking Freaks.
Savanna (Rachel Lagen) is pregnant from a man who isn’t her husband. They plan on ripping off Big Ronnie (John O’Hara) who looks like James Woods and acts like Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman (the first Michael Keaton one) and Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever (the Val Kilmer one). Ron, the head clown and owner of the Midnight Madness Circus of 1,000 Wonders, finds them in flagrante aardvarkus, then makes Savanna shoot Cash in the head and drags her out under the big top then throws darts at her garbonzas as part of a circus act in front of an audience, a la Bloodsucking Freaks.
Autumn Belle, the resident occultist, consoles Savanna, then a girl, Rachel, tasers her dad with a flashlight as they’re leaving the circus and runs away.
Ron’s gang of clowns — a big one, a girl one, a medium one and one with a goatee help Ron chop up Cash’s body. While that’s going on, Savanna and Autumn perform a ritual involving pureeing some liver and cow organs around a campfire, starts speaking Latin (with demon voice effects) and after cutting both Savanna and her hand, summons up a tornado that sucks the clowns up, creating the clownado of the flick’s title.
Savanna’s told to leave, so she does.
We need more characters, so a guy in a cowboy hat named Hunter (Bobby Westrick) picks up a Black Elvis impersonator named Dion (Antwoine Steele) who’s hitchhiking in his truck somewhere in Missouri. They go to a bar owned by Spider (Linnea Quigley) that has a topless woman named Bambi (Dilynn Fawn Harvey) writhing around in front of a bandana guy dressed up like 1980s Willie Nelson. A bar fight ensues when Bambi, the Willie-looking guy Hunter and the bouncer get into it.
Our protagonists get kicked out, figure they want to get dinner and end up at the same diner. The clowns show up in their tornado and there’s a lot of slaughter till the end of the flick. Like a lot.
Best Bogart Imitation: Cash (Christopher Prior) in the opening scene: “Most of my best friends are assholes. I think they ought to give out an award for the biggest asshole. Make a placard and put it on the wall and everyone can see what they’re dealing with.”
Best Lunatic: Big Ronnie, doing his best Batman villain impersonations, who tells Savanna “give me some time to heal so I don’t murder you in your sleep” before seeking ultimate revenge later in the flick.
Best Facelift: The clowns escape the tornado and pay Autumn a visit in her RV. The girl clown Satchel (Cayt Feinics) rips off Autumn’s face in a gooey and not at all disgusting manner (although would have been cooler if the shot would have held a second longer and the actress opened her eye in the midst of the bloody goo.
Best Massacre: The clowns off about two-dozen people from the diner in increasingly messy ways and turn cannibal.
Best Scene Involving Carnivorous Garbonzas: Nic Stone (Douglas Epps) gets his face eaten off, but survives long enough to tell Rachel he’s her real father.
Best Comeback: After Big Ron, the head clown, thinks he dispatched Savanna, she attaches a serrated knife and a two-pronged fork to her bloody hand stump so she can murder people.
Going to give it a star and a half. No plot. Lots of gore effects. Big body count. Static camera work. Blood, breasts and beasts, often in the same scene.
Check out Clownado streaming on TubiTv, Vudu, FreeVee or on physical media.