Killjoy Goes To Hell
Directed by John Lechago
Starring Trent Haaga, Jessica Whitaker, Victoria De Mare
Available on DVD and RedBox
More 31 Days of Halloween horror movie reviews! Killjoy has been around since 2000, when Full Moon started to roll out some new franchises. It was a strange time for Full Moon, as the video market was slowly dying, they had lost their deal with Paramount and they had oddly decided to double down on making even lower budget films. They opened up several new labels so as to not ruin the Full Moon brand and one of those included an urban label where Killjoy was produced.
The first two Killjoy movies didn’t do very well and I avoided them because they looked like crappy urban horror movies. Full Moon seemed to realize this as well, as Killjoy sat on hiatus for 8 years before returning in Killjoy 3 back in 2010. Now a new Killjoy movie is out just in time for Halloween. I never saw Killjoy 3, as I assumed it would be more of the same. However, while waiting for the new Puppet Master movie to come out (review coming later this week) I decided to look up some info on Killjoy 3 & 4. Ultimately I decided to give Killjoy 4 (AKA: Killjoy Goes To Hell) a spin.
I rather incorrectly assumed that like most slasher flicks, I could pick this one up without having seen the other movies. While that is partially true here, the fact is that Killjoy Goes To Hell is a direct sequel to Killjoy 3. Full Moon recently re-released Killjoy 3 under the banner Killjoy’s Revenge, lest you get confused when trying to track down part 3 before watching part 4. Now yes, you can watch this movie without watching part 3 and understand it, but it’s definitely better if you watch part 3 first.
Killjoy is some sort of demonic demon guy in the form of a clown. In this film he’s resurrected by some old witch lady, to be taken to hell for trial. What’s Killjoy on trial for? Well, as it turns out (SPOILER ALERT) he didn’t get the job done in part 3 and let one of his victims go. Not intentionally, mind you, but the girl outsmarted him by laughing at him. Clowns are meant to be laughed at, after all.
While Killjoy is being taken to hell for a trial by the devil himself, Sandie, the girl (Jessica Whitaker) who escaped Killjoy’s terror in part 3 is locked up in an insane asylum. Police detectives are still questioning her about the murder of her friends. She’s clearly insane, because she just won’t stop laughing, but they can’t find any evidence that she’s responsible for their murders. One detective thinks perhaps something more is going on here and he begins to unravel the mystery behind Killjoy, a urban legend he remembers from his youth.
You’d think hell would be a good time for Killjoy, but alas things are not going good. He’s been given a horrible attorney, who essentially is a clown demon in training. This guy idolizes Killjoy, but he’s a terrible lawyer. The DA is Jezabeth (drool worthy Aqueela Zoll in clothes that should fall off but don’t) who is intent on seeing Killjoy stripped of all his powers and clout within the realm of evil. Satan is the judge, jury and executioner and he seems to be reveling in Killjoy’s undoing.
Unfortunately for Killjoy, when it rains, it pours. The poor guy didn’t exactly do a good job on his last killing spree and with his bumbling clown lawyer seemingly intentionally botching the case, he has to call on some of his fellow clown demons to defend his good (bad) reputation. He resurrects the killer clowns he used in part 3, including Freakshow, Punchy and the Harley Quinn to Killjoy’s Joker, Batty Boop (Victoria De Mare). You’d think that might turn the tide in Killjoy’s favor, but Batty is pissed at Killjoy for being a bad boyfriend, Freakshow is a mime and thus can’t talk and ol’ Punchy only speaks in carny.
Eventually the clowns decide to call a special witness, Sandie, whom they have to steal from the world of the living. The trial continues with some better results, with a full out monster showdown in the final act. Sandie takes on a strange twist and Killjoy’s verdict is rendered. I won’t spoil the last parts of the movie, but suffice to say our hero will likely be back in sequels.
This is probably where the film is most confusing. While this is a movie about demons and there are a handful of murders throughout… Calling this a horror movie would be a bit generous. It’s played almost entirely like a court drama. Killjoy is the main character and Trent Haaga puts on a tour de force in the role. Between his wisecracks and rotten luck, it’s hard not to like the guy. It’s reminiscent of the later Freddy Krueger movies, where you’d be more likely to cheer ol’ Fred than any of his victims.
There’s nothing really scary about this movie, nor do I think it’s ever intended to be scary. Sure there are some kills, but even they are pretty pedestrian. If you go into this expecting some sort of basic rehash of the slasher premise, you’re going to be disappointed. Director John Lechago did Killjoy 3 as well and likely felt since that movie was essentially what you’d expect in this genre, that it was time to do something new. Honestly, I applaud this unique take on the franchise because it makes Killjoy likeable. Full Moon’s best movies are all about characters and Killjoy is now a memorable character like Jack Deth or one of the Puppets.
The movie is about an hour and a half long, making it one of the longer movies in recent Full Moon efforts. However that’s not necessarily a good thing. There’s a fair amount of time wasted here, where perhaps we could have gotten some horror. The story plays out like a real trial, with motions and recesses and it sort of bogs things down a bit. My GF, who I often subject to this sort of stuff, didn’t really seem to know what the hell we were watching. On the plus side, this movie wasn’t filmed in China like the last few Full Moon movies and you can just tell that the movie benefits because of it.
All of the principle characters do pretty good in the acting department, which is a nice change of pace for recent Full Moon movies. Trent Haaga has played Killjoy three times now and you can tell he’s very comfortable in the role. At this point, nobody else could play this character. He’s embodied it in a very specific way. Victoria De Mare has a slightly annoying manner of speaking as Batty Boop, but she plays up the succubus clown very well. It also doesn’t hurt that her costume is basically body paint.
The auxiliary cast is generally quite good and it’s nice to see that Full Moon was able to get all the same players back from Killjoy 3. That’s a level of dedication that they rarely show and it helps Killjoy Goes To Hell stand as a better film. Likewise the special effects and costumes are mostly all very good, with a few minor exceptions like Freakshow’s brother, which is some sort of little doll that’s neither interesting or effective.
Overall the movie is a fun romp, but it’s very hard to classify. I’m not sure the end product makes a lot of sense, but I’m not sure how much sense a movie about a demon clown on trial is supposed to make. Still, in the end, it’s pretty darn entertaining. It’s made me want to see other Killjoy films and that in and of itself, has to be a pretty big endorsement. By most accounts this is the best Killjoy movie to date and that gives me hope that we’ll see even more Killjoy films and that they’ll continue to get better. If Full Moon can continue to get Haaga in the role and bring in his cast of cohorts, it could really turn into a fun series.
There is a brief making of that’s nice, but not necessarily up to par. I’ve mentioned before that Troma has pumped out some films that were definitely less than stellar, but their “Making of” documentaries that were included on the DVDs are must watch material. This is a very short featurette that’s not particularly informative or entertaining. I actually preferred the shorter behind the scenes feature from Beyond the Marquee. It was more entertaining in 6 minutes than the one included on the Full Moon DVD. This is one area where they really need to do more.
Trent Haaga is just oozing with personality and the entire cast and crew seemed to be having a fun time. Would it have been that hard to film 10-15 minutes of behind the scenes footage each day and then cobble it together into an hour long featurette? Surely that would have been better than including a bunch of trailers for Full Moon movies that came out in the 1990’s… But I digress. Good bonus features is what changes a movie like this from being a rental to a purchase. Something Full Moon seriously needs to reconsider.
Killjoy Goes To Hell can be purchased on DVD or you can stop at your local RedBox and pick it up. The movie is flawed in many ways, but it’s also a real step outside the box. The strong performance from Haaga, the good special effects and the fact that this movie was made in SEVEN days is more than enough to give it some praise. Plus it’s infinitely better than the similarly named Jason Goes To Hell, proving that sometimes a small budget film can do much better than a big studio feature. I am definitely looking forward to more from this series.