18 April 2014

The Clown Murders (1976)
96 min.
Directed by Martyn Burke.
With Stephen Young, Susan Keller, Lawrence Dane, John Candy, Gary Reineke, John Bayliss, Al Waxman.
It would serve no point in beating around the bush here: The Clown Murders is terrible.

A Canadian import from the mid '70s, this low budget dud is saddled with a weak plot, poorly drawn characters, and what seems like an interminable running time.

The story: four adult men formulate the ultimate Halloween prank to play on their mutual friend Philip (Dane). Namely, they plan on hosting a Halloween party, dressing up in clown costumes, and kidnapping Philip's wife Alison (Keller), while at the same time preventing the real estate sale of the couple's farm. But things begin to unravel when Philip calls in the cops.

The quartet of pranksters soon find themselves on the lam for a very real crime. To make matters worse, someone in a clown costume has decided to exact a personal revenge of their own...and this time it's no joke.

If The Clown Murders had kept things simple, it's highly possible we'd be looking at another unsung little horror made up north. Instead, this feature film debut from director Burke is a misfire pastiche of everything from Straw Dogs (1971) to Death Weekend (1976).

Unfortunately, unlike those gems from Peckinpah and Fruet, The Clown Murders doesn't have the requisite firepower - either in terms of its writing, or its ability to generate dramatic tension - to make for a worthwhile watch.

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