Review by Robert Long II ©2011
STARRING: Jacky Reres, Frank Lama, Mark Lassise, Johnny Alonso, John C. Bailey, Leanna Chamish, Savannah Costello, Adam C. Edwards, Phillip Levine, Clarence McNatt, Tom Proctor, Lars Stevens, Mike Baldwin and Chris O’Brocki
Director of Photography: David Mun
Musical score by Chad Seiter
Kevin Kangas and Frank Lama, Executive Producers
Written and Directed by Kevin Kangas
The sequel picks up some time in the future. Detective Dan Peters (Frank Lama) has found out from his doctor that he has an incurable disease; he has perhaps weeks or months left to live. This shapes the decisions that he makes – the first being that he is going to tell no one of his affliction. The second one being his giving two weeks notice to the force. The third is to make sure a certain killer clown never bothers Lynn Blodgett again…
At the same time, dangerous mental patient Doug Richardson (Mark Lassise) has broken out of the insane asylum with the help of a crooked orderly named Ralph (Johnny Alonso) and two other inmates – Tom Holland (Clarence McNatt) and Fred Dekker (Phillip Levine). In the previous film, Richardson had gone on a killing spree, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake on his search of Lynn Blodgett, the person he believes is the cause of his mental illness. By killing her he believes that he can rid himself of his demons. To make matters worse he has an alter ego called Shivers the Clown, and dresses accordingly. His choice of weapon is a huge double-edged axe. He had almost gotten to Blodgett when Peters apprehended him and put him behind bars. Shivers final look to Peters as he was incarcerated spoke wordlessly that the battle was far from over.
The third piece of this puzzle comes in the form of Lynn Blodgett (Jacky Reres). She was Shivers intended victim in the first movie, and has become a successful fine artist since he was put away. She paints clown paintings for a living. What is so strange about that? Well, she suffers from coulrophobia, which is a “Fear of Clowns.” Her way of working through her fear is through her art. However this is REALLY not a good phobia to have when you have a serial killer dressed as a clown after you. After Richardson was put away, she and her young son have tried to put their lives back together. That is all about to change…
The story really picks up where Peters is turning in his two weeks resignation at his precinct. As he gets up to leave, his superior tells him that Richardson has escaped. He asks Peters if he wants to take this one last case; he accepts. His first move is to locate Lynn. Ms. Blodgett is in fact on a book tour with her agent, promoting a bound volume based on her scary clown paintings. It is at a press junket in New York that she learns of her attacker’s escape. Terrified, she contacts Peters. He agrees to provide her protection; she will be moved to a police safe house.
And what of the big bad clown himself? Shivers and his band of bad clowns (the other mental patients – Fred and Tom – have become Giggles and Ogre) have taken up residence in his old crib (after killing the current occupants) and are hatching a plan for killing Lynn Blodgett once and for all. It seems that Ralph the orderly has been keeping tabs on Lynn, and knows almost her every move. Can Peters protect her in time before the crazy clown clan moves in for the kill?
Simply put – awesome movie. No dead spots; this keeps the action moving from start to finish. Within only three productions this director has shown that he is climbing up the ladder, not going down it. This is no simple “dumb teenagers are stalked by a madman in the woods” film. Kevin Kangas doesn’t roll that way. What I admire about his writing is that he does not take the easy route. Kangas’ stories have a depth and complexity woven into them. The first movie had the audience guessing as to which characters they could trust outside of Lynn and Detective Peters. The sequel steps that up a bit because we cannot even be sure of what Peters – due to his terminal illness – is up to anymore. It is like an onion being slowly peeled away layer by layer, until the audience is allowed to get to the heart of the matter. Once they are, they are not disappointed by what they find.
Special effects makeup guru Doug Ulrich was back for the sequel and had his hands full with a plethora of bloody body parts. Shivers’ favorite mode of death comes by way of decapitation, but the madman amps it up this time around. Besides having heads lose their moorings from the neck (I counted about seven) there are craniums cleaved in two, bodies chopped in half, eyes gouged out, spiked baseball bat attacks, and cannibalism. If you are into these movies for gore alone, you do not leave this film feeling cheated.
Acting-wise all the performers have stepped up to the plate and are hitting them out of the park. In the first Fear of Clowns I think it would be safe to say that the acting was a bit uneven; this time there are no such problems. The principle players have their characters down cold, especially Frank Lama as Dan Peters and Jacky Reres as Lynn Blodgett. Lama in particular has to pull off several complex attitudes and emotions for this production; he does so with great skill. Reres this time out is more even in her portrayal of artist Lynn Blodgett. The viewer gets the feeling that she understands the character better and is able to pull off the performance totally convincingly. Mark Lassise returns as Shivers and is given a much stronger, meatier role in the sequel. He’s quiet, but he’s smart; he has things figured out far in advance and manipulates those around him like pieces on a chess board.
The other killer clowns are as disturbing as Lassise’ Shivers. Clarence McNatt as Ogre lets his huge stature do the talking of him. Phillip Levine comes off incredibly disturbing as Giggles, the sadistic clown with a taste for human flesh. You don’t want to accept a balloon animal from either of these maniacs. Rounding out the crooked quartet is Ralph the orderly (Johnny Alonso). Shaky, shifty, and sleazy Ralph is the only one that can appear “normal” in public and thus gets the gang their food, weapons, makeup, and information. The audience never really knows where his alliances lie, but he does seem to know more than he’s letting on.
The other characters shine just as bright. John C. Bailey plays the shifty administrator at the mental institution that Richardson escapes from. You just KNOW he’s up to something. Leanna Chamish plays Lynn’s art agent as a woman more worried about success and money than the fact that a homicidal clown is after her client. Also to help him, Peters has hired three mercenaries: Hotrod (Adam C. Edwards), Stolz (Lars Stevens) and Rego (Halloween 6’s Tom Proctor). They have come armed to the teeth and loaded for bear, but the clowns may just have a few sadistic surprises hidden up their sleeves.
Composer Chad Seiter is back and his musical score is stronger than ever. It really sets the tone for the whole movie, and is relentless during the final 20 minutes of the movie. Musician Erik Ashley also has a few rock-based songs in there for good measure, and they fit the movie like a leather glove.
Something that has gotten better per Kangas movie is the production values. Even with the low-budget restrictions of his very first movie “Hunting Humans” he was at least trying to get convincing locations, mood, lighting, and atmosphere into his productions. Fear of Clowns 2 goes to show just how far he has come. In this film we are treated to several solid locations – including an art gallery, police station, restaurant, and safe house compound. Plus there are explosions, stunts, fire gags, gun battles, and a plethora of emergency vehicles in this one.
The movie is available it two forms: one is through the Kangas Kahn Films, LLC site and is in DVD form. This one is the Director’s original cut and includes the ending that is NOT presented on the one available through Amazon.com. This DVD also has included an extra called “Project: Red Light” that is a humorous take on the making of behind-the-scenes of Fear of Clowns 1. It stars Kevin Kangas, Jacky Reres, Mark Lassise, Frank Lama, and Rick Ganz ratting each other out and is a lot of fun. The last thing included is a web address where the viewer can go to download the audio commentary track for Fear of Clowns 2. Kangas and Ganz did a terrific commentary for “Hunting Humans” and I wish I could say the same for this commentary. Unfortunately Kansas sounded very tired on this one; perhaps it was done too soon after the film was wrapped in post production, and he had not had enough time to distance himself from the movie.
The other avenue is to get it in downloadable form from Amazon.com. I am not sure if any extras are included with this download, but I do believe it has the ending that the general theatre-going audiences prefer.
FINAL RATING: 8.5 out of 10 helium balloons. Get this movie. You need to watch it if you are a fan of WELL DONE slasher movies. It is a horror roller coaster ride from start to finish and has NO padding in it whatsoever. My hope is that it gets receive wider distribution because it deserves it. Fear of Clowns 2 is smart, scary, sexy, and exciting. I don’t know what more a viewer could ask for.