After escaping hell, Killjoy has managed to land himself a cushy gig as the host of his own TV-talk show. However, after Batty Boop quits, he finds that his ratings are dropping and is in desperate need to start bringing more money in to the show if he wishes to continue. And to make matters worse, Beelzebub is hellbent on revenge against the demonic clown and is heading towards earth in a planet destroying spaceship.
Like any reasonable person, I watched the first “Killjoy” movie when it was originally released and absolutely hated it. Naturally, I skipped parts 2 and 3 when they came out but I did end up watching “Killjoy Goes to Hell” for some unknown reason. A lapse in good judgement? Maybe but “good” judgement has never been my strong suit so I find that doubtful, but let’s go with that anyway. Regardless of reason, there was something magical about that fourth movie. I found myself enjoying it, unashamedly. Suddenly the writers and actors found the perfect tone and direction for the out-of-place killer clown and his series of films that were somehow continuing on.
As much as I enjoyed “Killjoy Goes to Hell”, I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus” and I doubted that there was any chance of it being good. Mostly because with the last movie, it had steered into self-awareness territory and with quite a bit of satire in its humor. Which was great but where do you go from there? What else can you do with a character that’s now mocking himself? That very notion is what made a fifth movie sound like a terrible idea since the material could only be redundant.
Not to anyone’s surprise, I was wrong.
“Killjoy’s Psycho Circus” was not only great, but it put itself one notch above “Killjoy Goes to Hell” because John Lechago did what any worthwhile director should do: take a horror franchise and set it in outer space!
Think of any great horror series: “Friday the 13th”, “Hellraiser”, “Critters”, “Leprechaun”. What do they all have in common? They took an unnecessary sequel and inexplicably had it take place in outer space that allowed the films to transcend horror into sci-fi schlock. I don’t know about you but I openly wept when the giant-sized Leprechaun was sucked out an airlock because I knew horror films had reached their peak — mock me now but those installments will be regarded as classics in the future!
And I’m only slightly kidding about the whole space-thing (I have a genuine soft spot for those awful space sequels). “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus” actually features Killjoy and his cohorts taking off in a spaceship and getting into a laser battle with Beelzebub and his deathship. There’s even a goddamn “Spaceballs” reference during this climactic battle where Killjoy mentions having to jump to Ludicrous Speed! Sure, a movie might have gone too far in some places when it’s dropping a goddamn “Spaceballs” reference but that’s what made “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus” so much fun. The fact that the cast and crew got together and said fuck it and took the movie deep into the realm of ridiculousness.
The concept of horror is completely abandoned in favor of an unrestrained comedy, which was the best decision that could have been made. “Killjoy Goes to Hell” also gave up horror in favor of comedy but the humor was coming from a self-deprecating and satirical angle because there was room for the movie to go in that direction. I know I said this already, but when you do that kind of humor with a sequel, where do you go in terms of a follow up? In the case of “Psycho Circus”, everywhere, apparently. There’s absolutely no reason for a spaceship battle considering the last movie took place in hell, yet there’s one in the new movie anyway. That’s part of the charm of the movie — the fact that they had an idea for joke and ran with it as far as they could.
It’s not something that will work for any movie because it can make a film seem disjointed and random. “Psycho Circus” actually has that problem as well since there are varying plotlines that jump from Killjoy’s failing TV show to Killjoy learning what “human sex” is like. The movie functions more as a collection of scenes rather than building off a through-line but that is something that works for a movie like “Psycho Circus”. In part, because the series has already been established as being ridiculous and the audience has responded positively to it. And because of that, it gave “Psycho Circus” allowance to push the boundaries even further. Which is how we end up with a scene where Killjoy makes fun of Trent Haaga and how much of a better actor Ángel Vargas was in the first movie. It’s absurdity that’s skirting the line of stupidity but it works because the series has put itself in a place where it can get away with jokes like that.
Another reason why “Psycho Circus” is able to feel like a collection of scenes, and still work at being funny and entertaining, is because of the characters. “Killjoy” is no longer about trying to make a demonic clown as an icon in low-budget horror movies but about the situations that the characters find themselves in. That’s why you can have a completely random scene of Killjoy buying weapons but is offended by the names of the weapons. It’s not about the scene itself and how it fits in with the movie but about how Killjoy is responding and reacting within the scene.
The success of the characters is a combination of the collaboration between the actors and John Lechago but it’s also because the actors have a firm grasp on the characters and what works for them. Not to cut any of the other actors short but the movie stands out anytime Trent Haaga and Victoria De Mare are on screen (especially if they’re together). They have made Killjoy and Batty Boop their own and it becomes so much fun to just watch them — whether it’s Haaga presenting Killjoy as being sinister yet completely clueless or Victoria’s exaggerated facial expressions with a cartoon-like performance.
Again, had this been any other movie or if “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus” was a one-off movie, the humor would have come across more as being unfocused and scattered. The “Killjoy” series has reached a point to where it can do anything it wants to just because the fans like the characters and want nothing more than to see how they react to whatever situation and or environment they’re in. And I don’t want this review to sound like the movie is completely perfect in terms of comedy and entertainment, because it’s not. There were plenty of jokes that fell flat for me — like the “Mortal Kombat” fight reference, but that’s the way comedy is. Some of the material lands and some of it doesn’t. The important thing is that doesn’t diminish the overall entertainment value of watching this ridiculous collection of characters in an equally ridiculous movie.