The Clown Murders (1976)

DIRECTED BY MARTYN BURKE
MAGNUM PICTURES

Based around a rather dubious proposition – kidnapping an acquaintance’s wife to prevent him from making a business deal at, uh, the stroke of midnight, or something along those lines – the REAL horror here is in the breakdown of the characters’ shared relationships, man. Oh, and in the revelation of the ugly truths underlying their established personas. Or something along those lines. Only intermittently interesting for some of the glimpses at the dynamics of the power structure within this group of former school chums, events eventually take a dramatic and unexpected turn for the somewhat perverse once the action tips toward and past the climax. (Literally! In at least one sense.) It’s not too hard to figure out the mystery-of-sorts as regards the killer clown(s), but another mystery proves more elusive: what the hell?

WHY DID I WATCH THIS MOVIE?

The title caught my eye, but wouldn’t have convinced me without the summary promise of intrigue, which never developed. A caper undercut by duplicity it did turn out to be, but alas not nearly as interesting as it sounded.

SHOULD YOU WATCH THIS MOVIE?

I’m fairly certain you can find better examples of the basic motifs at work here, albeit probably without the clown costumes.

HIGHLIGHT AND LOW POINT

What really sold me on this flick was that it was one of John Candy’s first major film roles, and not a comedy. Unfortunately, he predictably played a heavier-set gentleman, one of whom’s friends constantly ridicules him about his size; throughout the film, his character is quite often seen eating. Since Candy reputedly had a lifelong struggle with his weight and self-image, and died at 43 because of related health issues, this was kind of a bummer. The turning point in the film, which involves his character, is itself extremely distressing for myriad reasons.

RATING FROM OUTER SPACE: C

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