The story follows three brothers home alone after their parents both have to be out of town. Thankfully though the circus is in town to keep the kids occupied. Unfortunately for one of the brothers this means dealing with his fear of clowns. A deep and bone chilling fear that is known to make the youngest brother piss his pants! Sadly though that isn't the worst of the brothers problems because this same night just weeks before Halloween three psychos break free from a local mental hospital and after killing the clowns at the circus set out to terrorize the brothers dressed up in the dead clowns identities. Sucks to be you kid! Trust me I know, I hate clowns and have spent much of my own childhood in fear of them thanks to those fucking jack-in-the-boxes my parents insisted on buying even though I would break them. My screams were their antidote to a boring afternoon.
Anyway back to "Clownhouse". The scenes are epically shot for the 80's. The film keeps with the classic dark, shadowy, slow, creepy vibe like earlier films like Halloween and Black Christmas. The clowns are megalithic in stature next to the kids in every shot. The way the light silhouettes the disturbing make-up and attire make these evil carnies look nearly demonic. Next to the "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" version I think these clowns in "Clownhouse" are probably the scariest clowns in early cinema.
The story is pretty solid and has very little holes or missteps as the movie plays out. The only thing that I didn't catch was why exactly out of everyone in this small country town did the psychos pick these kids, who lived way out in the middle of nowhere! It is just a little quip that I found and petty actually because the lack of gore and kill shots did not bother me and the rest of the film moved pretty fluidly. I still catch myself tensing up every time I watch this movie when the clowns make it into the house, and just about every moment that the creepy soundtrack kicks in to let ya know something is about to happen. Those aspects along with shadowy chase scene through the house and down the dirt road where very intense.
"Clownhouse" has a lot missing compared to most horror films, classic or otherwise. However the lack of bloodiness is a fleeting complaint because the film actually does have a scary and eery element that remains as fresh today as it did in 1989. It is a good film to let the little kiddies bite their teeth on without having to worry about trauma due to severed limbs on scene or decapitations. You do have to endure some "goddamns" and other curse words from the three brothers but it isn't anything never heard before, stereotypical of juveniles. For me the most creepy moment was the scene when the tall clown opens the front door for the first time and just stands there against the dark interior and the moonlight from outside then creeps into the house. My second favorite scene is the chase through the corridors of that big ass house with the clown only steps behind the youngest brother. Man I tense up on chase scenes quickly! Clowns are creepy, scary, and unnatural so this film is a great little scare story.
"No man can hide from his fears; as they are a part of him, they will always know where he is hiding."