The latest in Full Moon’s Killjoy series is the weirdest of the bunch
Full disclosure: producer and Full Moon honcho Charles Band is my partner in making the cult film magazine Delirium. So my judgement when it comes to his work and substantial legacy is a bit tainted by my insight into the man himself. I was raised on Band’s early imprint Empire Pictures (Re-Animator, Parasite, Troll etc.) and later was a fan of his early Full Moon Features output (Puppet Master, Subspecies). I watched the world change and saw Band always in the game, rising and falling but never giving up.
Now, Band and his over 200 movies made (as either writer, director, producer, distributor or all of the above) are part of the fabric of freaky pop culture and, though the world of indie filmmaking and distro has radically changed, Band keeps finding novel ways to keep the lights on. So with that, even though I have nothing to do with his film production and live in another country entirely, I’m still able to kind of keep a blind eye watching him put his new productions together. And while I’m not always sure WHY the world needs another Evil Bong movie, it sure is fun watching him round up his band of weirdos and make one.
Same with his Killjoy franchise. I don’t get the whole crazy “clown” thing. And the Killjoy movies have a whole mess of clowns from Hell and other dimensions doing maniacal things. Especially as the series progressed, with the addition of actor/writer/multi-hyphenate Trent Haaga as Killjoy in the sequel and director John Lechago taking over the franchise as of part three. Now here we have the 5th installment, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus, perhaps the lowest budgeted of the bunch but also the funniest and outright weirdest. And even more than any other contemporary Full Moon flick I’ve seen as of late, Psycho Circus genuinely feels like a pack of maniacs deciding to pool their talents and just “put on a show” for the fans. And that’s a very good thing.
The film continues where 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell left off and handily recaps much of that film at the opening (said opening also amusingly nods to 1980’s Flash Gordon, complete with faux-Queen theme song, hinting at the go-for-it pulp spoof that is to follow). Now, the murderous clown Killjoy, having survived the underworld, has escaped, is mortal and is now hosting his own intergalactic variety show called… yep… Killjoy’s Psycho Circus. With most of his whack pack intact, KJ nevertheless is missing his former muse Batty Boop (once more played by the smoking hot and charismatic Victoria De Mare) and, despite having hired a stand in for her (hilariously played by frequent Full Moon thesp Robin Sydney), it just aint the same. When Batty, who has been roaming the earth enjoying random pleasures of the flesh, sees her former partner’s show on TV, she freaks out and sets off to kick some clown ass. Meanwhile, the devil has himself been punished for letting Killjoy escape and has set forth a spaceship to pursue the wiseguy not-so-funny funnyman and blast him to oblivion.
The plot is really just a rack to hang its endless bits of mayhem on and to give the unbelievable Haaga a huge canvas to go berserk on and man does he ever. There’s even a sequence where Killjoy has Haaga on as a guest on his show, which means Haaga is interviewing Haaga, the goofiest bit of lunacy since Divine raped himself in John Waters’ Female Trouble. Lechago and co-writer Band have also let go any pretense that this nonsense is scary and just flipped the entire enterprise into a gonzo satire. In fact, the movie looks and feels like some sort of rabid Japanese fantasy/comedy, with garish costumes (the make-up FX are a highlight here), deliberately cartoonish CGI and over-the-top performances. The film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer and God bless it for that.
If Killjoy’s Psycho Circus has a flaw, it’s that it doesn’t go far enough. Sequences of death and murder are set up as splatter jokes but for whatever reason, rarely pay off as wetly as they should. Not enough fluids spurt or flesh explodes when both clearly should be. Still, if you’re a Full Moon fan or looking for a cross-eyed party flick, you’d do right by getting your mitts on this. Horror fans will hate it but fans of subversive, campy cult entertainment will get plenty of mileage out of the movie. It’s a Full Moon movie through and through and it proves that the studio and the brains behind it have built their own genre and cater to the wide fan base that eats this stuff up. Like Troma, but with an emphasis on imagination as opposed to toilet humor. Here’s hoping my man Band and his merry, er, band keep cranking these crazy things out until the planet stops spinning.