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Movie Review: ‘Killjoy’

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Ah, Full Moon Pictures (now known as Full Moon Features). In its heyday, this production company made some pretty good low-budget horror fare. Here’s a sampling of their early flicks: Puppet Master, Subspecies, Demonic Toys, and Trancers. In 2000, maverick Charles Band also added a killer clown to his repertoire with Killjoy, which unbelievably has spawned several sequels. Killjoy certainly lives up to its name—this low-budget film is a real turkey.

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The story has Michael (Jamal Grimes), a studious and shy young man, trying to secure a date with Jada (Vera Yell). But Jada has hooked up with gangster Lorenzo (William L. Johnson), who puts a beating on poor Michael. Of course, Lorenzo doesn’t get his hands dirty, instead having his homeboy T-Bone (Corey Hampton) do the honors.

Humiliated and whooped, Michael goes home, where we find out the dude is into black magic. Sitting in a circle of power, Michael takes a small clown doll and performs an incantation that he hopes will summon a demon he calls “Killjoy.” His spell goes unheeded, partly because he is interrupted by Baby Boy (Rani Goulant), one of Lorenzo’s homeboys. Baby Boy claims he wants to be Michael’s friend, but instead it’s a trap. Lorenzo, T-Bone, and Baby Boy take Michael into a field, where they torment him with what they claim is an unloaded revolver. Sadly, the revolver is actually loaded, and Lorenzo winds up killing Michael.

With Michael dead, Killjoy at last is unleashed onto the world. Killjoy’s principal job is to kill everyone who ever harmed Michael, as well as anyone who interferes. The bulk of the movie has the demon clown going after and dispatching the gangsters and then setting his sites on Jada and her friend Monique (“D” Austin), as well as their new friend, Jamal (Lee Marks).

Killjoy is bottom-of-the-barrel filmmaking. Carl Washington’s script is heavily influenced by movies like the Wishmaster series, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and even the Spawn comic books. The dialogue throughout is trite and ineffective, with the gangsters spouting cliché after cliché and the demon clown given one-liners that will make viewers cringe rather than grin. Director Craig Ross does what he can with the script and his budget, but he can only make a film that lasts 71 minutes but feels more like several hours. Ross also succumbs to the multiple-ending syndrome, where nightmares lie within nightmares. This horror cliché in an already terrible film really serves as its final groaner.

The acting is horrendous throughout, with all the actors seemingly embarrassed by the dialogue and simply going through the motions. Of the actors, the gangsters work the hardest, turning in earnest performances. However, the leads—Jada, Monique, and Jamal—can’t even hold their restraint, sometimes looking off to the director and smiling after delivering some poor dialogue. Angel Vargas as Killjoy does an okay job as the supernatural clown—and his makeup is pretty good, akin to that of Pennywise in the movie It.

I should also mention the music, particularly during the relatively tame sex scenes. What’s really weird about the music is that it’s akin to that found on many porn flicks during the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, the sex scenes feel more raunchy than they really are.

When it comes down to it, there’s not much to recommend Killjoy. Only those seeking low-budget trash horror may find it interesting, as the movie did manage to spawn several sequels, the latest of which is 2012’s Killjoy Goes to Hell. Got that, homie?


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