Search - Clownhouse on DVD

Actors: Gloria Belsky, Frank A. Damiani, Timothy Enos, David E. Gehringer, Kate Haefke
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
R     2003     1hr 21min


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Movie Details

Actors: Gloria Belsky, Frank A. Damiani, Timothy Enos, David E. Gehringer, Kate Haefke
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned,Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 07/07/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1990
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 34
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Spanish, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

A Creepy Delight
Graboidz | Westminster, Maryland | 07/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I heard all about Victor Salva and the young boy who plays the lead in Clownhouse. And I have to say, it's a shame Clownhouse gets smeared with the scandal. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski are considered great director's, and everyone seems to forget about thier history? Clownhouse is a fantastic little creepy movie. And unlike most of the other 80's slasher flicks, it doesn't play on the same old formula of hapless teens out to have sex getting butchered by a maniac. Clownhouse has real character development. You genuinely care for the three brothers, and anyone who feels the oldest brother is too mean to his younger siblings, never grew up in a household full of boys! I believe the characters are very believable and endearing. This group of no-name kid actors make the movie. The suspense is pretty tight, and there are a few genuine scares sprinkled here and there. Look beyond the scandal associated with Clownhouse and you will find a gem of a horror film."
An tainted 80's horror gem...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"From writer/director Victor Salva, who brought us Jeepers Creepers (2001) and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003) comes Clownhouse (1988), his big screen directorial debut. The film features a cast of relatively unknown actors, with the exception of a young Sam Rockwell, appearing in his first silver screen role.

The film begins by introducing us to three brothers Casey (Nathan Forrest Winters), Goeffrey (Brian McHugh, and Randy (Rockwell). It seems Casey, the youngest, suffers from a deep-seated fear of clowns, apparently due to a previous visit to the circus a year ago. This fear manifests itself in the form of reoccurring nightmares. We soon learn the boys are going to be alone on this particular night as their father is away on business and their mother will be visiting a distant relative. The boys plan on going to the circus, with a reluctant Casey in tow. We also learn three homicidal inmates from a local insane asylum have escaped. Will the inmates find their way to the circus and assume the roles of clowns, follow the boys and terrorize them in their big, dark, empty house? You betcha...on hearing about some of the elements of the film, it would seem this to be your very run-of-the-mill type 80's horror film, but once you settle in, it becomes much more than that. Salva quickly displays his talent for creating suspense and tension on screen, while avoiding the more visceral elements so prevalent in the genre during that time period. The use of light, shadows, and creepy music really combine well to create an atmospheric chiller that almost leaves you breathless at times. Sure, there's the occasional `pop out' scare, a scene where something jumps out of the dark to frighten and shock the audience, quite a cheap effect in my opinion, especially when overused, but Salva doesn't rely on this technique throughout. I felt he more or less used it sparingly, priming the fear pump to bring on better, more intricate scares developed by turning things the experienced viewer would expect to see in a film like this around and presenting them in a different way. And this was done in a very subtle manner, as not to really call attention to the subversion of the normal techniques, allowing the audience to experience a squirming sensation as the film progresses.

The pacing seems quite slow through the beginning and well into the middle, and I think there's a good twenty minutes between when the clowns enter the dark and creepy house until their presence is actually known by the boys. This seems very deliberate on the director's part, allowing for him to let the pot simmer, letting the viewer get unnerved with the knowledge of the intruders well before the boys know it. The clowns seem intent on playing a game of cat and mouse for whatever reason, but given that they're psychotics recently escaped from a mental hospital, who knows what their methods or motives are? I thought the three actors playing the brothers did quite well, presenting a fairly realistic portrayal of typical siblings, including all the meaningless fighting and rivalries many would be familiar with within their own relationships with their brothers and/or sisters. The house itself was quite odd and maze-like, being so very large yet it felt like so little of the seemingly huge interior was actually utilized within the film. I did feel a few scenes the actions of the characters or dialog didn't seem to fit as well as it should have, but these were minor gripes on my part, and didn't really lessen the overall effect of the film, which was to scare. There is an underlying plot thread throughout the film, one that focuses on the dealing with of one's own fears (actually, it's more of the core of the movie), but it didn't get in the way of this film providing some generally excellent scares.

Okay, as some may know or not, there is a much darker side to this film than what's presented on this disc. It's hard to provide a review and not mention it, so here it goes. The director, Salva, got into trouble after some very inappropriate actions with one of the young stars of the film. I'm not going to go into details, but he was convicted of his crimes, and served his time (you can look up the details on the web easily enough if you wish). Do I support what he did? Certainly not...there is a taint on this film, and those who are familiar with the history behind may decide to avoid this based on the actions of the director, and I wouldn't blame them, but I cannot change what happened. Hopefully all parties involved got the help they needed as it's hard to ignore the talent involved. I can't help but think it was this situation that caused me such difficulty in finding an affordable copy of the film.

The film is presented in a wide screen format here, and it looks pretty good. Some scenes were a bit dark, and the audio seemed a bit soft at times, but if you are looking for a seriously creepy horror film from the 80's that avoids many of the clichés of the time, then this one is a real gem. The disc is extremely sparse on special features, allowing only for a theatrical trailer and English, French, and Spanish subtitles. Some may find the film hard to find, but I did hear of a possible re-release on DVD, so I would suggest avoiding the high priced versions. I actually found my copy on another website, new, for a very reasonable price.

Darn Good Thriller. Where Has This Film Been Hiding?
Jay Fenton | Washington, PA USA | 03/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"From the new MGM Vault releases, I decided to watch CLOWN HOUSE first. I was quite impressed with it.

The plot: A young boy has been frightened by circus clowns since he was three years old. His older brother, 14, is understanding; another brother, 17, is a mean jerk who constantly ridicules the boy about his fears.

The circus is in town, of course, and guess who doesn't want to go, but is bullied into it by his oldest brother. As fate would have it, three escaped mental patients kill three clowns, take their clothes and break into the home of the three boys when mom and dad are away.

It takes half the picture for the youngest kid to convince his two older brothers that the clowns aren't just in his imagination. Even the police won't believe him.

This is one of the best-choreographed horror films I've seen and reminds me of a darker version of HOME ALONE. The amount of times the two older brothers just miss seeing the clowns is amazing and done with extraordinary skill by the filmmakers. I wonder why this film isn't better known? I've seen worse become big hits at the box office. I'm not saying it's a forgotten masterpiece, but I don't think many will be disappointed if they give it a look."
Another Reason to Be Afraid of Clowns
Josh | Sc, Usa | 04/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I really related to this movie in one main way, the fear of clowns. Why, to me, is there so much fear of clowns? The same reason the little guy in this movie gave, or the reason the movie gave. You always see the outer shell of a clown: the costume, the paint, the brightly colored wig. But you never see what's on the inside. In Clownhouse's case, it was three psycho lunatics that escaped from a mental ward and managed to kill three clowns from a town circus. They then take the costumes, and face paint and apply it to theirselves. Meanwhile, three brothers are at the circus, and the youngest has a great fear of clowns. The brothers leave the circus, thinking everything is great, but the mental patients follow them home. This movie used the usual horror methods. Like the killer following closely behind it's victim without the victim knowing it. Although this has been used many times, it was cleverly pulled off here, and made for some tense and creepy moments. Another method used was the silent killer type. This could be creepy in any other movie, but try looking at a painted on smiling face who's expression never changes, and sound never escapes it's mouth. People with great of fear of clowns will relate to this movie, but those who don't have a fear, will enjoy it non-the-least."