For any fans of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, you have to check out my interview with the Chiodo Brothers.
But also, I am writing live from my hotel room at HorrorHound Weekend Indianapolis. Yesterday, March 25, 2011, I sat in on a Q&A with four of the cast of Killer Klowns: leads Suzanne Snyder and Grant Cramer, klown Harrod Blank, and stuntman Mike Martinez. A summary of that event is here:
* Harrod Blank auditioned as an extra, but the Chiodos liked him enough that he played the part of seven different klowns.
* Grant Cramer would wind down after the night’s filming (all filming was done at night) by playing Pong.
* After filming the nights scenes for a while, and then switching to interior shots, the cast voted to continue shooting at night to keep their sleep schedules. Suzanne Snyder said this was the only bad thing about shooting the film: trying to correct her sleep when it was all over. Shooting took about 2 months.
* Suzanne Snyder did all of her own stunts, getting bruised up, with one exception: the scene where the stunt klown (Mike Martinez) hits the hood of the car. Since there was a chance he might go through the windshield, for that brief scene they had a stand-in.
* Many of the special effects were very low-tech. For example, the scene where the cast is running away from the monster… this is a simple shot where they are running in the background and a small toy is placed an inch from the camera, making it appear larger.
* The klowns could rarely see where they were going, and could almost never hear. There were loud motors in the klown heads controlling facial expressions, so the grinding of the motors was all that could be heard. Also, the heads were very, very warm and sweaty.
* Talks of a sequel have been in the works for a while. They went nowhere because the film’s original owner, TransWorld, went under and nobody knew who had the film’s rights. Actors were not getting residual checks. Eventually MGM picked it up, and released it on DVD. In a short time, they sold 700,000 copies, making a considerable profit. The chances of a sequel are better now than ever. The cast is interested and the Chiodos have a script. They just need funding.
* Grant Cramer had an interesting relationship with assistant property master Mark Barofsky (who is now deceased). Mark insisted on calling Grant “Gram”. There was a day or two on set where Grant was sick and had to leave on short notice. He would nod to the director and then run off the set. He would then return a few minutes later. This happened repeatedly. After shooting was over, Grant’s agent called him up and said, “Grant, we have a problem. The rumor is that you have a coke addiction, and it’s so bad you have to run off the set in the middle of shooting to get more coke, and they have nicknamed you ‘gram’.” It apparently took a bit of convincing to play down that rumor.
Saturday night, March 26, I ended up chatting with Mike Martinez in the bar for a while, and he added a few more thoughts:
* His wife was actually a clown in the Ringling Brothers circus before this film was made.
* He holds an annual party where he screens the film for friends and then does his own commentary over the top.
* He clarifies the origin of the film: the Chiodo Brothers were driving one day, reached a stop light, looked over and saw a clown driving. They were so mezmorized by the clown that when he drove off, they only noticed the clown and not the car he was driving, given the impression that the clown was “floating”. They further added that any clown who floats must be a “killer” and “from outer space”. There is a floating clown scene in the film, but it is a fraction of what was filmed. A longer scene was shot, but the film was damaged and they had no budget to reshoot it. This lost scene also contained the character of “Joe Lombardo”, who later shows up inside a cotton candy cocoon.