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Ultra HD : Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: May 14th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1988

Killer Klowns from Outer Space - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray [SteelBook]

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: M. Enois Duarte
Cliché-ridden and hysterically absurd, the Chiodo Brothers' darkly twisted but bizarrely lighthearted Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a farcical tribute to the sci-fi B-horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s. Courtesy of Scream Factory, the alien creatures invade Ultra HD SteelBook with an impressive 4K HDR video, an average but ultimately disappointing pair of DTS-HD MA tracks and the same set of bonuses. Nevertheless, loyal, rabid fans will hunger to add this wildly popular cult favorite to their 4K cult library. Recommended

OVERALL:
Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Two-Disc UHD SteelBook Combo Pack, UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc / BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc, Region Free
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, Dolby Vision HDR / HDR10
Length:
86
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Special Features:
Audio Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Trailer, Blu-ray Copy
Release Date:
May 14th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

"Whatta ya gonna do? Knock my block off?"

Armed with cotton-candy blasters, mutated flesh-eating popcorn, balloon ray guns, acid pies, and animated shadow puppets that swallow you whole, Killer Klowns from Outer Space invade Earth to scare our funny bone to death. The colorful circus freaks draw us in with their playful pleasantries before cocooning their victims in cotton candy and storing them away on their mother ship, which is shaped like an enormous Barnum & Bailey tent. They suck on human blood at their leisure through the most convoluted funny straws, jump out of pizza boxes like a Jack-in-the-Box, and explode into a fireworks show of confetti when popping their noses. It's one silly laugh after another in this outrageously weird cult favorite.

In the tradition of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! and Night of the Creeps, the Chiodo Brothers created a hysterically absurd homage to the sci-fi B-horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s. The title says it all, promising a darkly cartoonish tribute to the period while placing it in a contemporary small-town setting, born of a twisted sense of humor and our childhood fear of clowns. No one specific drive-in feature serves as inspiration, but rather, it comes from the collective memories of those films and captures the spirit of the era while forging into slapstick excess. It's a romping good time at the movies, never meant to be taken seriously or all that scary. Just sit back and laugh at the farcical nonsense of clowns with a street vacuum or enjoy the wickedness of seeing a child about to be knocked on the head with a wooden mallet.

It's made even more bizarre when characters show absolutely no fear of the invading aliens simply because they resemble clowns. Many even approach them without the slightest concern or alarm that the creatures are walking the streets at night. The space invaders are actually hideous-looking monsters with grimy, yellow teeth and the most disturbingly sinister smiles. The Chiodo Brothers come from a background in special effects and make-up, and they played a major role in the production design and the look of Killer Klowns. They are precisely as we would imagine them in our worst nightmares — revoltingly phantasmagoric grotesqueries from another world that want to eat us, not bring a smile to our faces. One of the movie's most imaginative and admirable aspects is the effects and design. For a low-budget film, they're amazing!

The story, riddled with a variety of classic horror tropes and clichés, follows a young couple (Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder with funny names like Mike Tobacco and Debbie Stone) stumbling upon the alien invasion and setting out to warn their quiet, suburban town à la Steve McQueen and Aneta Corsaut in The Blob. Later, Snyder becomes the archetypical damsel-in-distress when kidnapped in one of those huge circus balloons that don't seem to exist anymore. With the sheriff (John Allen Nelson) convinced of the creepy threat these clowns pose, Cramer and he are on the rescue while mean-spirited Officer Mooney (John Vernon) remains a non-believer, leading to his demise as a ventriloquist dummy. Michael Siegel and Peter Licassi as the ice-cream-selling Terenzi Brothers join the rescue mission as a pair of comic-relief buffoons. 

Killer Klowns from Outer Space, which has grown into a wildly popular cult favorite from Halloween masks to collectible action figures, is not a movie for the faint of heart. Or at least, those who don't care for the over-the-top madcap zaniness and wickedly dark nonsense of alien clowns invading Earth. Neither are audiences required a familiarity with the B-horror features it plays homage to, as the impressive visuals and make-up effects are more than enough to deliver the laughs the plot promises. Decades later and after countless viewings, the movie remains a riot, one which the Chiodo Brothers will continue to be remembered for, even if they never went on to other projects of their own making. (Movie Rating: 4/5)

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Scream Factory brings the Chiodo Brothers' Killer Klowns from Outer Space to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc Limited Edition SteelBook. The Region Free, dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc, and both are housed inside a colorfully pink SteelBook. At startup, the UHD goes straight to a circus-themed menu screen with full-motion clips, the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.

Video Review

Ranking:

The Chiodo Brothers make a clown out of Ultra HD with a phenomenal HEVC H.265 encode that easily bests every previous home video release, making this the definitive version to own. Struck from a fresh restoration and remaster of the original 35mm camera negatives, the native, film-like 4K transfer parades through town with razor-sharp details in the clown outfits, from the stitching in their polyester-looking fabrics to the individual hairs of their wigs. We can also more plainly make out the distinct, minute features in their animatronic faces and the stage design of their circus-like spaceship. Occasionally, a few soft, blurry spots rear their ugly heads, but much of that can be chalked up as an inherent condition of the source or a result of the visual effects of the period. 

The most dramatic difference from its HD SDR counterparts is the Dolby Vision HDR presentation boasting a lush, flamboyant array of colors, washing over every scene in sumptuous primaries with reds looking particularly dynamic and vivid. Likewise, a richly animated selection of secondary hues supplies the aliens with spirited cotton candy pinks, energetic cyans, intense golden yellows, dramatically ornate magentas and succulent purples. Facial complexions appear healthy with lifelike textures that reveal every discrete wrinkle, pore and negligible blemish. Contrast and brightness balance are on point for the most part, furnishing the action with clean, brilliant whites, even the faces of the clowns, and crisp, radiant specular highlights that really make the rays from guns and explosions pop. Awash is a thin, better-refined layer of natural grain, accurate black levels bathe the absurdity in deep, inky shadows, allowing for better visibility of the darkest corners while providing the 1.85:1 image with impressive dimensionality and a beautiful cinematic appeal. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 92/100 or 4.5/5)

Audio Review

Ranking:

Unlike the video, whether the original mono audio also received the same remaster treatment is unclear. But sadly, as it stands, it would seem that it has not although a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 upmix now joins a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track. After conducting a back-and-forth comparison between the two while watching the movie, the latter lossless mix is the stronger of the two and arguably the preferred way to enjoy the clownish silliness. However, neither track is a winner, and both unfortunately reveal some disappointing issues, especially when compared to Arrow Video's BD edition featuring a more satisfying LPCM 2.0 option. Then again, the movie has never exactly had a good soundtrack on any home video release, which leads me to believe that these are likely flaws inherent to the original production. 

To begin, both tracks appear oddly off-balance with the volume strangely fluctuating from low and decently stable to suddenly obnoxiously loud at the weirdest moments, such as when Mike and Debbie are talking at Lover's Lane. The vocals are audible and well-prioritized amid everything else in the stereo track, which remains true throughout even as the noise and music swell, but in the 5.1 option, the dialogue tends to be drowned out by the louder background activity and score. In fact, the ambient effects of the surround mix come in at higher decibels and are noticeably overstated while also easily localized in the room with weak directionality. Both tracks exhibit a clean enough but mostly average mid-range although the higher frequencies tend to be on the brighter side. 

The worst and weirdest anomaly in both lossless mixes is the overall imaging. While conversations may be audible, they largely fall flat and lifeless with a light yet noticeable echoing across the entire soundstage. Added to that, the vocals are nearly never in sync with the lip movement by just a minor fraction and strangely don't always come through in the center of the screen, as in voices sometimes either come from the left or right front channels or suddenly float somewhere in between. The same is true for the ambient effects, like Dave's footsteps coming in obnoxiously loud from the left channel but closing the car door comes from the right side. No matter what changes I made in the receiver to help fix this, like switching between direct sound or applying the receiver's upmixing functionality, the issue with the vocals and sound effects remains the same. This is really annoying when listening to the 2.0 track, which sounds as though they downmixed the 5.1 version to make it. All the while, there's no low-end to speak of, adding to the overall lackluster and somewhat hollow lossless mix, making for a disappointing listen.

For the sake of being thorough and ensuring that it's not just my system experiencing this issue, my fellow HDD colleague took a listen to his UHD disc and also reported something odd in both lossless mixes not sounding right. It is as though they are not properly balanced with some sound effects weirdly placed within the soundstage. (Audio Rating: 52/100 or 2.5/5)

Special Features

Ranking:

For this UHD edition, the same set of supplements has been ported from the previous Blu-ray release.

  • Audio Commentary with the Chiodo Brothers 
  • The Making of Killer Klowns (SD, 22 min) 
  • Komposing Klowns (SD, 13 min) 
  • Visual Effects (SD, 15 min) 
  • Kreating Klowns (SD, 13 min)
  • Chiodo Brothers' Earliest Films (SD, 7 min) 
  • Deleted Scenes (SD) 
  • Killer Bloopers (SD, 3 min) 
  • Vignettes (SD)
  • Trailer (SD)

From the Chiodo Brothers, Killer Klowns From Outer Space is a farcical tribute to the sci-fi B-horror movies of the 1950s and 1960s but intentionally exaggerates the nonsense to the level of outrageous slapstick silliness. Cliché-ridden and hysterically absurd, the film comes with a very dark, twisted sense of humor that's bizarrely lighthearted and animated. Courtesy to Scream Factory, the alien creatures invade 4K Ultra HD SteelBook with an impressively shocking Dolby Vision HDR presentation that easily bests previous Blu-ray releases. Sadly, a pair of DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are average at best while displaying a few anomalies that ultimately make for a disappointing listen. Supplements are carried from the previous BD, but the loyal, rabid fans will nonetheless hunger to add this wildly popular cult favorite to their 4K cult library.

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review

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