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A youth, played by Nathan Forrest Winters, is waiting for his brother to return home from a bloody war. He encounters something very nasty and evil in the basement of his house claiming his older brother died.
Nathan Forrest Winters
Just before Halloween, three kid brothers who are alone in a big house are menaced by three escaped mental patients who have murdered some traveling circus clowns and taken their identities. Written by
Slashers don't tend to be my favourite type of horror films, but this one is slightly better than most because it actually has some vision, and its gimmick, while not exactly original, is well used. Many people find clowns frightening, and it's not hard to see why; as these make-up wearing funny men definitely have a sinister aura about them, and that is something that director Victor Salva has capitalised on here. These clowns are particularly nasty as well, and the fact that they're escaped lunatics helps to ensure this. The film takes a while to get going, but this time is well spent on introducing the audience to the three lead characters. I'm not a big fan of movies that star children, but these three aren't too bad. We follow three brothers who find themselves under attack in their own home. The main plot is only one babysitter away from being the oldest one in the book, and the fact that the intruders are escaped mental patients doesn't exactly help it in this area. Luckily, the film is largely well done, and it's a good job because if it relied solely on its story, Clownhouse would have been easy to forget about.
Director Victor Salva is a notorious presence in Hollywood, which is down to the fact that he confessed to being a child molester a year before Clownhouse was released. You've got to question the wisdom of allowing him to make a movie with three kids, therefore, but really, I'm only interested in his film making ability, and it's obvious that Victor Salva is a talent. His use of the camera is superb, and he creates a brilliantly foreboding atmosphere around the house, which helps this kind of plot no end. The music too is well implemented, and helps the film at the right moments. The acting is nothing to write home about, but in fairness; the three leads do rather well. Nathan Forrest Winters puts in the best performance as the youngest of the trio, and receives good backup from Brian McHugh and a young Sam Rockwell, who both fit their roles as his brothers well. The film isn't very gory for a slasher and most of the movie is rather restrained. Salva goes for the scares without using gore and, for a change; it works in its favour. I can't say that Clownhouse is a classic or must see, but it's not bad and is undoubtedly better than either of the Jeepers Creepers films.
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