I spend alot of time saluting Troma here..but the truth is the weren’t the first independent studio that I became obsessed with as a kid..That honor (of course) goes to The killer doll heavy empire that is Full Moon.
Headed by mad genius Charles Band, Full Moon has been giving the world a steady diet of cheese sleaze and silliness since 1988 and there is no stop in the foreseeable future. While Troma is certainly the king of off the wall bafoonary, Full Moon has a flair for bringing 50’s style nostalgia and 80’s style nuttery together for genre defying, all around crazy productions with oddball monsters like Killer Bong, The Gingerdead man, and Ooga Booga (not to mention the long list of maniacally murderous puppets and dolls that made them so famous) In short, they make kid’s movies for adults. Perpetual teenagers rejoice whenever they see that familiar rising moon logo..and I’m one of them.
In 2000 Full Moon hit pay dirt after a bit of a dry spell with an odd little semi-blaxploitation film called Killjoy. Killjoy told the story of a dejected abused teenager who after being killed fuses with a demonic clown named (you guessed it) Killjoy who then wreaks revenge on the boy’s tormentor.. When I saw the film I was 14 and I fell in love with the character (in a gay way..a reeeeally gay way..just kidding..or am I?) The film (sorry to be blunt) wasn’t the greatest. It had some issues with pacing and acting as well as some pretty big plot holes..but the character was great. Sassy, playful and undeniably, irredeemably evil, Killjoy was Full Moon’s Freddy Kruger and the fans recognized this and begged for more.
In 2002 that’s exactly what they got. But one sequel wasn’t good enough..Nope, we got three..But something almost unheard of happened with the series..IT GOT BETTER AS IT WENT ALONG! That’s right, by the time Killjoy Goes To Hell came out in 2012 The series had finally established it’s tone and direction. Gone was any semblance of trying to make coherent sense or be serious in any way and in it’s place was just a parade of stupidity and wild disregard for anything but having fun..And that’s precisely the direction the series needed to take! Even Killjoy’s appearance became better with each installment!
The fans went rabid with demands for a continuation of the story from where Killjoy Goes to Hell left off..and Charles made us wait four years!!! Damn you Charles! But when it did arrive I think we’ll all agree it was worth the wait!
Today is Charles Band’s 65th birthday and what better way to celebrate the legacy of this visionary cheese pedler then to take a look at the latest entry in what is likely his best series since Puppet Master (actually, lets be honest, better then the later entries in that series) KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS
KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS opens shortly after Killjoy’s escape from hell along with his gang of cantankerous clowns, Batty Boop, Punchy and Freakshow. Things aren’t going the hottest for our favorite former clown prince of Hell. He’s become a washed up talkshow host (on a show that gives the film it’s title), lost Batty after she finally got fed up with his assholeish ways, and worse..he’s becoming mortal! Just when he thinks life on Earth can’t get any more shitty, formal rival Beelzebub is granted a spaceship and a reprieve from Hell to come to orbit Earth and collect Killjoy’s soul to bring back to Hell.
Killjoy, Spaceships and a talkshow? Hell yeah! Yes this one is a ridiculous and cheesetastic as it sounds. The story comes across as the wet dream of a fifteen year old uber nerd..and I say that with the utmost respect. It’s fast paced, random and doesn’t waste a second with any bullshit filler, writer/director John Lechago (who also wrote and directed Killjoy 3 and KillJoy Goes To Hell) continues to do an excellent job creating what can best be described as live action cartoons with this off kilter little collection of characters. You can tell this fella has a lot of fun and a lot of love for these characters and their continued story as it shines through in every second of the films he has contributed to the series. He may not have joined the series until part three but this guy is the true lifeblood of Killjoy.
The acting here was hilariously over the top. This was the first time we really got to see Killjoy struggle with any kind of human emotion and seeing how uncomfortable he is with the concept of love, affection and (spoiler alert) the prospect of possible fatherhood is fuckin’ great. Freakshow also got to talk in this one and it was nice to see that the character actually had some useful things to say. Punchy, of course remains the surprisingly insightful closet philosopher who everyone sees as the group idiot due to his unseal speech patterns and Batty..Well Batty is still Batty which is why we lover her so damn much..But she now has more of a tender side which added a nice little bit of dimension to the character while (thankfully) not making her any less bat shit crazy..in fact she may even be more crazy here!
The effects here were a hoot! With 90’s style computer animation that looks straight out of a sega saturn game and some great old school practical effects for alot of the gore. Full Moon is a company who doesn’t try to hide it’s tiny budget but instead crams it down your throat and flaunts it..Honestly I think that’s why stuff from them works whereas Sci-Fi originals and other things like that tend to fail so epically. If you’re going to make a bad movie make it that way on purpose..That seems to be the Full Moon philosophy! The only complain I had in this department is the same one I’ve had for virtually every films I’ve reviewed in the past 3 or 4 years: CGI BLOOD..It looks terrible, it’s not worth being cost effective..STOP USING IT!! CGI blood is probably the most irritating thing in the world to Horror nuts such as myself. It leaves me wondering..have Corn syrup and garden sprays really become that expensive? this is really a small squabble here as it wasn’t overly used..but the film would certainly be better without it.
Overall I give KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS No Middle fingers up. It’s endearing, it’s silly as hell and it gives me a lot of hope that this series will only continue to get better and better as it goes..so here’s to hoping for Killjoy part 6-38.. and when can we see Killjoy fight The Blood Dolls? Or perhaps lost in the Necropolis seen at the end of The Dead Hate The Living..Let’s make this happen Charles! Happy Birth