Friday, September 20, 2013

"Stitches" - - The 'Citizen Kane' of Killer Clown Movies

*Note: This movie is really, really gross. So be warned. This review is pretty gross too.

I recently said in my review for the legal drama/horror film "Killjoy Goes To Hell" that clowns do not scare me and I generally don't find clown movies interesting in general. I've had "Stitches" for awhile now but never got around to watching it. A clown movie. Gee, how original.

I watched the first ten minutes or so, where the titular clown Stitches bangs a clown groupie while sound effects played in the background. Ugh. Then he goes to a kid named Tom's birthday party and all the kids are mean to him but since he's already portrayed as such a jerk I didn't really have much empathy for him. Actually, at that point I didn't care about any of the characters. He ends up tripping and getting stabbed in the face with a butcher knife, then some other clowns showed up at a clown graveyard, and I paused the movie and took a nap.

Yes, this is literally the last thing I saw before I went to sleep.

A few hours later I woke up well-rested and a little hungry. I grab some chips, microwave some nacho cheese and salsa, and sit down to watch the rest of Stitches. I figured I'd give it another 20 minutes before I relegated it to the "Do-Not-Review" pile of my collection.

Then this happened.

If you can't quite make out what you're seeing there, or if your brain is simply blocking your visual cortex from making sense of that picture, that is a clown ripping out a man's testicles. It's just a vision that the main character Tom is having, but . . .yeah. I paused the movie. put away my salsa, and realized I was in for a real horror movie.

The plot of "Stitches" is simple: When a clown dies during an unfinished party, he or she can come back, "and the joke is never as funny the second time" we are warned by the leader of the clown cult. Years later Tom is just getting over the terror of watching a man die at his birthday party when his friends decide to throw him a big bash for his 16th birthday. All the kids who tormented Stitches are there and they are also all messed up in their own way from that tragic day. Stitches isn't back to be their counselor though. He's back for revenge in the funniest, most clown related ways possible.

I remember when I walked out of the first "Pirates Of The Caribbean" movie I thought: "That is everything I ever wanted to see in a pirate movie." They had sword fights and curses and treasure, naval battles, all the stuff. I felt satisfied as a viewer.

"Stitches" left me the same way. When he made balloon animals out of a guy's intestines I laughed but pretty much expected that. But when Stitches rips off his fake nose and lets it roll around the house party to sniff out his prey I thought, "That's awesome. That is not something I would have come up with had I wrote this." Even at the end he hops on a tricycle in a slow-speed chase that still manages to be exciting. Everything you could ever think a killer clown would do, Stitches does it.

I did not add that subtitle. This movie is just that awesome.

Stitches never ceases to be both funny and brutal. One interesting point is that usually in these movies the "extras" at the party all leave for some reason (the cops show up, there's a better party somewhere else, etc.) so only the principal characters are around for the mayhem. Not only does that not happen here, but Stitches smashes through a window then breaks a coffee table in half just for the hell of it. THAT'S what scatters the party. At this point in the film we already know he is a threat. After he crushes a table simply because it was there made me realize this was a Jason Voorhees level villain.

The characterization was great and what is interesting is we care about the characters because they care about each other. Individually they're all kind of dicks (except Tom but even he is very stand-offish) but as a team they actually come across as real friends. They're slowly growing apart as all high school kids do but still have a bond and it's refreshing to see real characters underneath the horror movie stereotypes.

This movie also had one of the coolest kills I've seen in awhile and the way it's done is just magnificent.

We have Sarah, who is described as "easier to get into than community college."

She's one of the few to actually square off again Stitches and hold her own. When he tries to stab her with his umbrella she sticks a high heel right into his throat. She knows it's a killing blow. But when he slowly removes her spiked heel from his neck, she realizes Stitches isn't human.

She runs.

But how can you outrun an umbrella thrown with superhuman strength?

The umbrella impales her eye. With a close up on her eyeball we see her iris slowly close. She falls backwards and the umbrella slides through her skull.

Then the umbrella opens up, spraying blood across the room.

Gross. Very gross. But what makes this scene work is this violence is intercut with two of Tom's other friends preparing to have sex for the first time. The passionate kisses in the one room are juxtaposed with the brutal struggle in the next. The "whore" is killed but not after a fierce fight. The "good girl" willing gives herself up to be penetrated. That's some deep shit for a movie about a killer clown who uses a balloon pump to blow a dude's head off.

I highly recommend "Stitches" to any horror movie fan. It's funny, clever, engaging and above all very entertaining. The plot doesn't have many twists and turns but it still manages to surprise you. The acting is top notch and you will miss a few of the characters once they've been killed off. Actually, I'd recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a good laugh as well. I hope this is the beginning of a franchise and if not I see a bright future for the creative minds behind this movie.

Just don't plan on eating anything while watching it

1 comment:

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