This clownado swirls up a whole lot of crazy characters, cheap-chunky guts and a little T&A.
Director Todd Sheets (Dreaming Purple Neon, Bonehill Road), wrote, directed and edited Clownado and much in the same fashion of his other films, Clownado harkens back to grindhouse and pulp influences, but despite the ambitious effort to merge clowns with tornadoes (as some kind of Bozo infused Sharknado?) this movie doesn’t really know what it wants to be.
Spoiler Warning in Effect for the Following “Clownties” Until the End of This Article
It spans multiple genres. The highly stylized intro merges old circus footage with VHS fuzz and ‘80s slasher-inspired graphics that have some real razzle dazzle. However, much like a scumbag knife killer from an ‘80s slasher, the intro lures you into a dark room and then slowly inserts his knife into your fucking chest. You think you’re about to dive straight into a grindhouse, ‘80s throwback — something akin to Killer Clowns from Outer Space or Funland — but you’re thrown into the sloppy gut-mash-gumbo of about six different movies in one. The first 10 or 15 minutes set things up as a pulp thriller with Savanah Dane (Rachel Lagen) as a damsel in distress looking to enlist the help of her lover to pull one over on her psychotic boyfriend Big Ronnie (John O’Hara).
In fact, the beginning of the movie blends into Savanah and Big Ronnie’s workday life as circus performers in a way that makes you feel like you’re tuning in to the end of one movie and immediately moving into that movie’s sequel. There’s also a lot of exposition throughout the movie as each new set of characters is introduced starting with Big Ronnie and his insane clown posse, and there really has to be a lot of explanation as to what’s going on because this movie is the fucking Cloud Atlas of cheap, killer clown movies.
So, at the beginning — at the heart of knives of this whole crooked, cumulonimbus clown tale — Savanah wants revenge on Big Ronnie and his rag-tag jesters. Autumn Moonspell (Jeanne Silver) is a witch who tries to help Savanah get her revenge by enacting a dark curse that somehow makes the gaggle of clowns more powerful (nigh invulnerable) and gives them the ability to travel in tornado form.
Speaking of…the title is a bit misleading. There are clowns, but not nearly enough to be considered a furious tornado of clowns. It’s like five clowns who sometimes travel via GMC truck or sometimes travel using a demonic, electrically charged tornado cloud to hunt down their cavalcade of victims including (but not limited too):
- Thugs from dime store novels
- Pulp damsels in distress turned undead huntresses with knives made from their own hearts
- A wiccan gypsy woman
- Bar room strippers
- Grumpy, diner waitresses
- Black Elvis impersonators
- Lost fathers
- Drunk-redneck fathers who get tased in the nuts by daughters
- Drunk rednecks in Bret Michael’s cowboy hats nicked named “Doghouse.”
- Idiot Sheriffs who may or may not be having a stroke
- Bi-curious lesbian drivers
- Young storm chasers using their uncle’s ice cream store’s liquid nitrogen reserve to stop the formation of tornadoes?
There’s also a gruff, seasoned pilot named Hawk who’s a lame-ass one-liner machine who flies in and flies right out of the movie as fast as a foot-long oak splinter blasted right through your genitals by a gale-force wind, but to be fair, almost every character is a one-liner and exposition meat puppet who bounces around in every scene.
Also, the use of tornadoes in this movie is a little confusing. The clowns travel via tornado, but can’t use the tornado to burst through locked doors?
About 25 minutes into this dark storm, a black Elvis impersonator hitchhiking across the U.S. gets picked up by a redneck named Doghouse Riley. They jump into his ford truck and head to a Coyote Ugly-style bar and defend the honor of a topless dancer before hitting a sleazy diner. This is where the movie could have and should have started. Once at the diner, almost all the characters meet and are quickly hunted by the clowns traveling via clownado.
Much later in the film (at least it feels much later), a group of young storm chasers shows up and a sheriff who delivers his lines as if someone is typing them into his brain on a computer with severe internet lag, talks about the tornado that’s heading toward town. There you go. You could have had all the main characters converge right there. Got the whole “tornado” schtick rolling right out of the gate. Damn it. I keep forgetting I’m reviewing, not re-editing this movie.
I will give these clowns credit where credit is due. The gore scenes are on par with some Troma-level visceral disgust. John O’ Hara who plays Big Ronnie the clown has a great, creepy clown voice and brings a deranged and manic energy to the scenes he’s in. Blood lovers rejoice, for every murder scene is a gore fest. The three most notable kills would be the old waitress forced to do the ultimate split, a little person clown spawned from the womb of a dead clown, and all the sheriff’s backups turned into a handy little human-skin handbag. Honorable mention also goes to the uncomfortably long scene at the beginning where the clowns chop somebody apart for what feels like 20 minutes straight.
Big Ronnie the main clown and his main squeeze Savanah have this strange chemistry every time they encounter each other on screen. It’s like they’re playing a sadistic, sexual roleplaying game and can’t achieve orgasm unless they one-up each other 100 times with one-liners.
“Ronnie, baby. I leave a taste like blood in your mouth and I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible and once I’m finished, you’ll understand why storms are named after people. We’re on a joyride to hell, you and me, and here’s your one-way ticket…”
All in all, if this Clownado pops up on your doppler radar, it might look like one hell of a ride you want to get sucked into, but viewer be advised: If you watch this movie, you’ll want to strap yourself to an old well pipe with your belt and pray Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt show up to save you from this clowntown blowdown (blowdown is circus slang for a disaster.
Twister, for readers under the age of 18, is a reference to a disaster movie about tornados. Hey! If you think my jokes are bad just watch Clownado *Honk Honk* (that was me honking my clown nose). I’m dressed like a clown as I write this, for I am a clown, a sad clown. Cue Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson. Honestly, I’d rather get drunk with John Wayne Gacy in his basement, than watch Clownado, but that’s just my personal preference.
I truly and sincerely believe in independent art, specifically independent film and I applaud any and all efforts to produce new, original content even if it’s not the best. If this same movie were made in 1969 or 1977, I’d probably be raving about how zany it is and how everyone needs to watch it so bear this in mind before any of you fucking juggalos jump into your Fiats to hunt me down and turn me into clown chow….
See, that’s one thing we can agree on. Clown Chow is a pretty cool slang I picked up from this movie that only the African American characters say, and last time I checked African American’s invented Jazz, Rap, Hip-Hop and that’s all considered pretty cool. Ever hear of the Harlem Renaissance? Yeah, didn’t think so. How about this? How about you spend the hour and half you would have spent going brain dead from watching Clownado and just read up on the Harlem Renaissance. Fuck. At least read some poems by Langston Hughes for fuck’s sake.