Secrets of the Clown
I don't know who thought that clowns were amusing and would make good entertainment for children at circuses and parties as I find them extremely creepy - a sentiment I know that others share. It is precisely because clowns are scary that they made such great villains in IT and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, so this addition to the 'killer clown' subgenre is unsurprising.
Bobbie and Val are a happy couple and everything seems to be fine apart from Val's odd attachment to a toy clown. One night when she is out, Bobbie and his friend Jim are having a few drinks when Jim unexpectedly gets a broken bottle and stabs the clown. It's not long before Jim is mysteriously stabbed to death, and Bobbie has no idea who could be the murderer. Shortly after this, he begins having vivid nightmares involving Jim's corpse, Val and the clown doll; he also begins hearing things and seeing Jim's ghost.
When he meets up with his mates at the cemetery for Jim's funeral, Bobbie confides in one what he's experiencing and is considering getting a psychic involved to find out who killed Jim. They all find out and begin joking about it, with two of his friends, Jon and Ken, getting into a heated debate and starting to fight. Jon goes back to his car and before you can say 'killer clown' he has his throat slashed and is brutally murdered.
Bobbie is determined to get the psychic involved but Val is oddly against the idea, wanting to be out of the house at the time and doing all she can to dissuade Bobbie from pursuing the paranormal investigation. But why? Could it be to do with her interest in the occult and borrowing books on witchcraft from the library, or is that just a coincidence?
I expected this to be a cheap Child's Play knock-off with a possessed clown puppet instead of a Good Guy doll but it was surprisingly more than that. You begin thinking that the doll is killing people but this is impossible when you see the murder is human sized, albeit dressed like a clown. Furthermore, Secrets of the Clown isn't a straightforward case of 'possessed puppet killing people' but something with several twists and dream sequences before the final reveal of what has been going on all the time.
When the psychic becomes involved, the humdrum first half is largely forgotten as the film becomes much more interesting, mostly because of Micheal Kott's wonderful performance. Suddenly there are séances and inexplicable happenings with different people communicating with the dead.
I enjoyed this much more than I hoped to and it kept me involved and interested right until the end, trying to figure out what was happening and each character's motives. It's not the best film ever made with some wooden acting and the occasional clunky line, but the murders are bloody enough and there's even some decent nudity right at the beginning - just what you want in a low budget clown horror!
Picture and Sound
Secrets of the Clown is pretty well shot and the death scenes are low on gore but still effective. The picture isn't as sharp as it could be and is slightly muddy in the darker scenes, but it looked ok despite the letterboxed transfer.
The dialogue is clear and the fairly subtle score works well, not imposing itself.
For a film with an RRP of £2.99, this is good value despite the letterboxing and lack of extra features. There are much worse films around with a higher retail price so this is worth picking up for some entertainment on a dark night in. The actors acquit themselves well and the film isn't dull or straightforward with a decent twist at the end.