Thursday, September 20, 2012

'Killjoy Goes to Hell' is like classic Full Moon

Killjoy Goes to Hell (2012)
Starring: Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Jessica Whitaker, Stephen F. Cardwell, Aqueela Zoll, John Karyus, Jason R. Moore, and Randy Mermell
Director: John Lechago
Producer: Charles Band and John Schouweiler
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

After one of his victim's escapes death by his hand, the demon-clown Killjoy (Haaga) is called before Satan himself (Cardwell) to answer for his failure... and for not being evil enough. Will his ex-lover Batty Boop (De Mare) and the rest of the demonic clown posse come up with a way to save him before all his names are struck from the demonic record and he fades into oblivion?

"Killjoy Goes to Hell" is another Full Moon winner for John Lechago. In this direct sequel to "Killjoy 3" (which is being re-released by Full Moon under the new name "Killjoy's Revenge"). he builds on what was started in that previous film while taking Killjoy and related characters in a completely different and unexpected direction. The result is the sort of crazy mix of fantasy. humor, and horror present in some of the greatest Full Moon releases of years past. We also have some honest-to-God plot and character development present in this film, something which has been lacking in most recent pictures from the Band fantasy factory and which has been in short supply in the "Killjoy" films until now. To make the package even more enjoyable, the film features passable digital effects, nice sets, and great make-up jobs.

Trent Haaga, in this third outing as the demonic clown, gives his best performance yet, actually managing to give a little depth to what is basically a killer cartoon character. Similarly, Victoria De Mare, returning as the clown succubus Batty Boop, as quite a bit more to do than just be silly and look sexy and deadly--like Haaga with Killjoy, she gets to give Boop some texture and depth.

In fact, every single character in the film--from the girl who survived Killjoy and his clown posse's rampage  in the previous film (now committed to a mental hospital) to minor characters like the Demonic Bailiff--has one or two character defining moments if they utter any dialogue at all. Even the do-nothing character of Freakshow from "Killjoy 3" serves a purpose and gets to shine in this outing.

And because writer/director Lechago actually took the time and effort to write a decent script that gave the actors something to work with, there's enough material that he was able to create a full-length 90-minute movie, instead of sneaking over the finish line with 65-70 minutes that seems to have become the Full Moon norm. The strong script also makes the fairly pointless side-business of a pair of homicide detectives trying to piece together the truth about the events of Killjoy 3" tolerable even while you're wishing the film would get back to the insanity of the trial in hell.

The fact this film is as good as it is is even more remarkable when when considers the fact that it was made on an extremely small budget, was shot over 7 days in May of 2012, and that I am writing this review in late September of 2012, not from a rough edit but from the final version that will be on sale at in two weeks and showing up in Redbox rental outlets in time for Halloween.

Is it perfect? No, but most of the problems I could call attention to would amount to little more than nitpicking. This is a fun flick that is full of the spirit that old time fans loved Full Moon for back in the 1990s. It's the sort of film I hope for as I keep coming back to the House That Band Built... and it's a film that has just put John Lechago high on the list of names to watch for. He's two for two as far as Full Moon films go! (Three for three overall, if I count his non-Full Moon picture that I've seen.)

 Note: Full Moon Features provided me with a review copy of this film, free of charge.