Rob Zombie directs Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster and Richard Brake in this lurid horror flick where travelling carnies find themselves pitted in a deadly game of survival against psycho clowns.
Rob Zombie flicks shouldn’t work. They invariably star his wife, who while an enthusiastic performer, unsurprisingly never seems to find work outside her husband’s batshit mental oeuvre. They lack restraint and imagination, happily churning up hardcore grindhouse imagery with such sleazy gusto that the artless overkill becomes charming. He couldn’t write a likeable character if he tried. Even horror fans sneer at him, and they’ll champion any old shit. Yet I’ve enjoyed every single one of his calculated demented noise and gore poems. What he lacks in originality and subtlety he more than makes up for in thrills, spills and senseless killings. I mean, sure, there probably are earlier films where a midget clown covered in swastikas menaces his prey but who has time to find or watch that whole boring cheapo. Zombie borrows the concept, uses and abuses it for 10 effective minutes, moves on to the next piece of exploitation imagery. He digests all the random, unwatchable nasty that’s out there down into a slightly better made, slightly more palatable entertainment. And this one has a great villian turn from Richard Brake. His Doom-Head killer is shocking, convincing and terrifying. In genre terms, I think we have witnessed a new star be born.