Plot: Bobbie (Paul Pierro) loves his on again, off again girlfriend Val (Kelli Clevenger), but her erratic behavior makes their relationship unpredictable and the two break up on a regular basis. After her latest split, Bobbie and his friend Jim (Jay O’Connor) have some drinks and vent about Val’s flakiness, when Jim discovers that she has left behind her treasured clown doll. As he is a little tipsy, Jim smashes the doll with his beer bottle and shatters the ceramic feet. After all, if Val is going to keep messing with his friend’s heart, she deserves a little paycheck, or so Jim thinks. As it turns out however, the doll is no mere decoration and the clown seeks payback for being damaged, murdering Jim in brutal fashion. After his friend’s death, Bobbie is plagued by horrific visions and in an effort to move on, he brings in a psychic, but will he unleash even more chaos by tapping into the other side?
Entertainment Value: Secrets of the Clown seems like it will be a possessed doll kind of movie for a while, but then it shifts gears and unravels into a convoluted, but often hilarious tangled web of horror cliches. I liked all the relationship dysfunction that starts off the movie and then the killer doll element, then a beyond over the top psychic, then some kind of occult rituals, then a bizarre, but quite buff clown appears, so there’s a lot going on here. Of course, some people prefer a coherent plot that makes sense and those people will not be pleased here, but at least this movie really goes for it and just kitchen sinks the entire experience. The first half is mostly fun for the awkward performances, odd dialogue, and constant dysfunction, while the second half focuses on making as little sense as possible. I can see how might find the first half slow, but I think the b movie appeal is still there, as the cast varies from wooden to over the top and the writing gives them some humorous material to work with. But the horror and descent into chaos is in that second half, so the pace picks up then and we have the clown, the rituals, the seance, and of course, that ridiculous psychic. I wouldn’t recommend this to those looking for a grounded, traditional horror ride, but for those who appreciate low rent, head scratching horror, give Secrets of the Clown a shot.
This one has a little sleaze involved, with a couple of topless scenes and neither is brief, so that’s a plus. So not a flood of exposed flesh, but better to have some skin than none, I think. I wouldn’t call the movie packed with bloodshed, but there is frequent violence and some red stuff splashes around. A nice throat slash is probably the highlight, but we also have some stab wounds, a katana kill, and in a fun turn of events, the clown doll cries blood while sitting in a microwave. That last one might not sound like much, but it is an odd moment and for some reason, I thought it was hilarious. There’s other minor bits of violence, but not much else to speak of. I had fun with the dialogue here, mostly because of the over the top performances and colorful characters. The dysfunction between Bobbie and Val was hilarious to me, as she was such a rotten girlfriend and the banter was humorous. The wild psychic was also the source of a lot of entertainment, while you have to love the random, oddball cowboy that pops up. So while the writing might not have been packed with home run lines, the cast runs with the material and ratchets up the score a little. On the craziness front, we have the doll crying in the microwave, the ridiculous characters, ludicrous narrative, humorous performances, dysfunction, and of course, a fist fight with a zombie. I’ll be honest, the general weirdness is solid here and the movie’s main draw.
Overall Insanity: 6/10