August 1, 2022 Aliens, Clowns & Geeks (Movie Review)
Richard Elfman (Forbidden Zone 1980, Streets of Rage 1993) is back with a campy Sci-Fi Horror film that aims to top the ninja-pirate rivalry with aliens and clowns.
In it, a down and out actor, Eddy Pine (Bodhi Elfman: Mercury Rising 1998, Collateral 2004) stumbles upon an obelisk that happens to be the key to the whole universe. It ends up pulling him into the middle of a conflict between killer clowns and sneaky aliens that involves priests (George Wendt: Cheers series, Space Truckers 1996), mad antiquarians (French Stewart: 3rd Rock from the Sun series, Broken Arrow 1996), and the clown emperor Beezel-Chugg (Verne Troyer: Jingle All the Way 1997, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me 1999). All Eddy wanted was a job. Now he has the role of a lifetime. He just has to get out of it alive.
Keep in mind that Troyer sadly passed away in 2018, with Aliens, Clowns & Geeks being one of his last roles. The film was originally finished back in 2019 but will be getting a DVD and Blu-Ray release on June 7, 2022, through the MVD Entertainment Group. Though, is it better late than never?
If the Elfman name sounds familiar, that is because the film is a family production. Writer/director/actor/almost everything else Richard is the father of lead Bodhi. His wife Anastasia (Karma is a Bitch 2019, The Scout 2021) co-stars as multiple roles, and his brother Danny (Batman 1989, The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993) provides the score alongside Ego Plum (Spongebob Squarepants series). That would just be trivia, though it does make Anastasia’s role of Cindy, one of two blondes Bodhi comes across, rather odd.
But then it is an odd film in general. Just in case anyone thought a film called Aliens, Clowns & Geeks was going for the top prize at Cannes. It is a B-movie in the vein of Troma Entertainment, 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space, or indeed Elfman’s own Forbidden Zone, and it is self-aware of that fact.
Rebecca Forsythe (Law & Order: SVU series, Replace 2017) plays the love interest Helga with an over-the-top Swedish accent and wackier kung fu moves. Bodhi’s Pine has enough wisecracks and gags at his expense that give his straight man some twists, Anastasia chomps the scenery in her roles, and French Stewart is French Stewart. The aliens and clowns possibly come off as more normal by comparison. They look crazy, speak gibberish, and control their space vehicles with video game console controllers, but they’re not dancing through Hieronymus Bosch paintings in a diaper in a dream sequence like Pine.
This self-awareness extends to nearly everything else in the film. It is shot like a TV film with its bog-standard lighting and framing, and occasionally blurriness when it gets fancy with its zooming. Likewise, the special effects range from looking like a SyFy original film to looking like a high-end special by a YouTuber (after-effects lightning!). Yet, for what they are, they are put together well enough. It’s cheap, not incompetent. The score is the strongest technical aspect, if typical of Danny Elfman. It sounds like Jack Skellington could come around the corner at any moment.
Still, there are plenty of B-movies that go for the deliberately cheap, camp fun, only to end up more annoying than hilarious. Aliens, Clowns & Geeks walks between those extremes on a tightrope, as it does earn some genuine laughs. Bodhi has some good one-liners, as does Steve Agee (New Girl series, The Suicide Squad 2021) as the transgender Jumbo with his deadpan delivery. Other times, the dumb fun is just dumb and tests the viewers’ patience. Yet, it never gets as rage-inducing as the stupid jokes in 2022’s Ambulance, so it has one up over the A-list blockbusters.
To sum up, Aliens, Clowns & Geeks is as cheap and dumb as its premise suggests. The gags are very hit and miss yet are delivered earnestly by a cast that is in on the joke. Likewise, the special effects sometimes look nice, and low budget every other time, but fit the film’s tone and humor. It lives up to that weird, classic B-movie tone, though even on that basis the gags are hit and miss. Nice music though. It is worth sticking around for the credits for the Chinese rap and Danny Elfman bringing back some of that Oingo Boingo magic. Otherwise, Cryptic Rock gives Aliens, Clowns &Geeks 3 out of 5 stars.