"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? Good night!"
So said John Lydon in what was supposed to be the final Sex Pistols show. I never was a fan of the Pistols, but I feel that said quote is appropriate here. The band performed a cover of The Stooges classic "No Fun", then called it a night. That was the whole show. If they had gone off like that and remained split up, I would probably have more respect for them. The audience wasn't the least bit happy, which is how most should feel after seeing Steve Sessions' 2003 movie "Dead Clowns"-especially when you first read it's synopsis. What could have been a decent low budget gem is instead a dull, incompetent mess.
The plot at first reads almost like a Troma movie-fifty years ago,a hurricane caused a circus train accident, which killed off several clowns. The town has mostly forgotten about this incident. That is, until another Hurricane is coming, and before you can say "Send in the clowns", here they come-undead, angry, and without flowers that squirt water.
Amazingly, the movie decides to play itself straight for the large part, avoiding what could have been a sub Troma level Horror Comedy. It's also obvious what Sessions influences are here-John Carpenter's "The Fog", the zombie films of Lucio Fulci, and Amando de Ossorio's "Blind Dead" series. It obviously means well-it's atmospheric and gory enough-but the whole thing is a chore to watch. Why's that?
Well for one thing, for all it's atmosphere, it doesn't know what to do with it. The movie just plods along, with events and kills occurring without any real interest or energy. There's no real story arc to it either. Sure, it has a plot, but the whole thing feels like it has no interest in doing anything as far as characters and story goes. And the characters are dumb too, and not amusingly dumb. They behave stupidly and barely even try to escape the zombie menace before them-as if they are practically begging to be killed. Let's also not forget the solution to stopping these Undead Bozos, which sets new standards for terrible plot devices in zombie movies.
It particularly sucks because the idea of Zombie Clowns is a novel one, and it's obvious that Sessions' heart is in the right place. The problem is that the whole thing-from the script to the direction and so on-is so poorly put together that it fails in nearly all accounts. It's best that you skip this one. I wish I had another clown joke to make, but alas.