Killjoy (2000)

I’ve been looking to review more series, so here goes with a piece on the first installment of a hokey franchise some might find to be of a similar stock as the Leprechaun films I covered back in March and April. Enjoy.

Mania Banner Killjoy [alt]

Directed by Craig Ross

Synopsis
Loner Michael is beaten up for getting too close to a street thug’s girl. Humiliated but not defeated, Michael performs a black magic ritual on a clown doll in attempts to summon a real-life version for bloody revenge. “By the power invested in me, I bring forth Killjoy… Come alive, Killjoy! Come alive!” he chants. Before he can finish his ceremony, the same wanksters from earlier show up, grab Michael and drive him to a secluded location. “How many times I done told you to stay away from my girl, man? Huh?” Leader Lorenzo asks. “So many damn times I lost count.” Frustrated, Lorenzo whips out a gun, pulls the trigger and— nothing. Sigh of relief. While Michael cries like a punk-ass buster, Lorenzo explains he was putting the scare in him. He says his gun isn’t loaded. Seconds later, it turns out it was when it accidentally goes off, killing Michael.

Cut to a year later and Killjoy has hit the streets, selling drugs from his ice cream truck by day, offing those involved with Michael’s death by night. Can Jada (the object of Michael’s affection), her new boyfriend Jamal and a girl no one cares about find a way to bring the bad clown down — for good?

Review (SPOILERS)
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” -H.P. Lovecraft

Sometimes, the best thing a horror filmmaker can do is not show you their villain. When a concept like that is left to a fertile imagination, the results are often scarier than anything that could be realized on screen. Here, our villain is wisely teased for the first few times he appears. After his full reveal a half-hour in, things take a right turn to ridiculous. The whole tone shifts from a dark, dramatic tale to more of a stupid, shameless horror-comedy, rather quickly might I add.

Killjoy 7

I mean, Killjoy might be the least frightening villain of all time. Dude’s a contender, for sure. But more on that later.

As mentioned above, Killjoy comes to exist when Michael performs a black magic ritual on a clown doll. It’s never clearly explained where the doll came from, so I’ll assume the obvious — Michael made it. Later, he and the clown are portrayed as alter egos of each other. Michael becomes the doll, becomes Killjoy. I get the impression that Killjoy spawned from Michael’s emotions, which differs greatly from later movies where Killjoy is passed off as this ancient demon people have summoned for centuries, this horrible urban legend that’s told around campfires, whispered of at slumber parties. The black Pumpkinhead. That’s just my interpretation.

Here’s what the movie does explain: Killjoy can only be conquered when either his heart or the doll itself are destroyed. Also, he can’t die in his own realm — a warehouse with lots of graffiti and stacks of boxes. Oh, and the only way into his realm is through the back door of his ice cream truck. Physically, Killjoy’s victims remain where they are. Only their minds are whisked away to the warehouse. Now, if they die there, they die for real. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well, kind of. Ok, did you get all that? Great, now forget it! Knowing most horror franchises, we can expect these rules to completely change by the next film. And they do.

With an all-black cast (save a lonely Hispanic guy), Killjoy was one of a handful of Full Moon’s attempts to break through to the relatively-untapped black demographic (under its Big City Pictures banner). Only, I don’t think it worked (note how the cast gets whiter with each installment). Killjoy was pretty roundly panned, currently holding a 2.4 out of 10 at IMDb. In my opinion, they should have cranked up the gay factor instead, reached out to the gay demographic. I mean, Killjoy screeeaams gay. Well, full-on, stereotypical San Francisco gay anyway. Now, that’s not a slam on gay people. Heck, I love ’em. Point is, it’s really hard to be scared of a boogeyman this flamboyant, this fabulous, dressed in lime green and pink, no less. And— wait, what are those? Big rubber cleaning gloves? There’s no real sense that we’re fucked beyond all hope. I’m pretty sure I could beat this guy up in a life-or-death situation.

Come at me, bro!

So, the question begs, does Killjoy deserve its 2.4? Yes and no. Its biggest problem is probably its cheap digital effects. For example, you’ll find no less than ten instances of characters digitally fading out of existence, but no gore, only one or two practical special effects, and very little blood. Also, like I’ve said, its villain is less than imposing. That’s a real problem. Moreover, Michael’s acting just isn’t the most convincing. No, this isn’t a great movie. It has its faults. But 2.4 is a little harsh. I’d probably give it a 4, which translates to a 2 on the Doink scale below. It’s not a complete train wreck, and sports a few funny scenes.

Gotta laugh when Killjoy says, “That’s some good pussaaay.”

Killjoy 8

A Few Questions
Why is Killjoy an ice cream man?
Why were there randomly swords and an axe in that cardboard box?

The Verdict
Skip it.

Recommendations
Pumpkinhead (1988)
Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

KilljoyMania Doink the Clown Rating: Two Doinks
Doink Scale 2

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