A Color Story: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Title: Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Year: 1988
Director: Stephen Chiodo
Writer(s): Stephen Chiodo, Charles Chiodo
Producer(s): Stephen Chiodo, Charles Chiodo, Edward Chiodo
Costume(s): Darcie F. Olson
Cinematography: Alfred Taylor

Starring: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelson, Royal Dano and John Vernon


It’s the 80s. Late 80s at that. Killer Klowns from Outer Space should fit the mold of a b-movie that’s forgettable and yet the movie stands out for a couple of reasons: 1, you have clowns and 2, the color palette is unique.

When you think of clowns, you think bright colors, warm, the drawn smile is curvy and comedic. These klowns however are anything but. They are aliens disguised as what they deem are “clowns” and thus their reign on planet earth begins.

But this is another entry in the “A Color Story” series so let’s discuss it.

First thing that grabbed my attention is that traditionally, clowns have a primary color palette, that includes patterns. Looking at these clowns or klowns, that is thrown out the window. There are pastels, weird shapes on their “costumes”, lots of pinks and reds and duller shades. These aren’t happy clowns, these are darker. The patterns and shapes are very modern looking, perhaps art deco or pop art inspired. That’s what I’m reading from it. But of all things, despite the color palette, it still pops. It’s bright, welcoming. And unsuspecting as well. Lots of circular objects or patterns or curvy which is traditional in clowns. You don’t see clowns with sharp edges or points in their makeup, I believe it is some kind of rule about that… that makes you look evil.

The colors still make them cartoonish but also grotesque. But welcoming, which is why they can easily ambush or encounter people and people aren’t immediately threatened or frightened. It’s the overall look of the klowns that make them… approachable. 

What I also love is the colors surrounding the klowns work together. Almost as if drawing colors from their surroundings and not really blending in but it’s not by accident putting them against certain colors or against background characters and realizing they are sharing a similar color palette. 

The movie’s fun, goofy, terrifying at points. It’s colorful and bright, like how a circus should present itself. If you have not seen Killer Klowns, I’d recommend it!

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