Santa Cruz is one of the most photogenic places in the state. But until 2019’s Us, there was only one worthwhile movie made there. The Chiodo Brothers’ 1988 Killer Klowns From Outer Space was the best Santa Cruz movie for decades, just because it was a sturdy, humorous creature-feature that did what it set out to do. It’s a story of clowniform ETs in a flying circus tent whose idea of fun is MURDER.
Good Times writer Adam Joseph just wrote a loving appreciation of Killer Klowns, which the Chiodos shot six nights a week for six weeks in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. The Chiodos--Charlie, Stephen and Edward--are longtime L.A. stop-motion animators. Collaborators with Tim Burton, the Chiodos create work that epitomizes the saying “Cheap CG gets cheaper as the years go by, but cool puppets stay cool forever.”
To Joseph, director Stephen Chiodo describes the cult film: “it was a ’50s movie made in the ’80s, and it was exactly what we wanted.” Tidbits include crediting the source of the movie’s look to the influence of Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. They offer praise for Watsonville’s above-and-beyond cooperation with the shoot. And it seems the trek to Santa Cruz had less to do with the popular (but bad) Lost Boys than it did for Chiodo’s nostalgia for the Rye Amusement Park they attended as kids. That park, seen in the Tom Hanks movie Big, has a certain resemblance to the world-famous Boardwalk.
Read more on GoodTimes.sc: “When Santa Cruz County Became Klownsville.”