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Movie Review: Clowns Vs. Ninjas

By Mike Everleth ⋅ April 22, 2009

It’s an idea whose time has come: Clowns vs. Ninjas, a rip-roarin” violent smackdown of gargantuan proportions that’s about fifty gazillion times more brutal than chocolate vs. peanut butter. It also comes in two thrilling varieties. First, there’s the ferocious music video that delivers exactly what the title promises and which you can watch embedded above. Then there’s the extended short film version that’s available for purchase on DVD.

The very title Clowns vs. Ninjas promises a lot and, thanks to a cheery visual inventiveness by director David Brocca, the finished product delivers. Pitifully, the clowns don’t stand a chance against their ninja attackers and they are slaughtered wholesale in hilariously original ways. Brocca totally goes for broke in not just coming up with unique ways to slice off limbs, have brains explode and have testes get popped, but also in the ways he chooses to creatively frame the bloodletting. On what must have been a scrappy little budget, the video has an impressively crisp and slick look.

What’s also nice was the choice to give each clown a distinct persona. They’re not just differentiated by their make-up, but also by the type of clown character they inhabit. There’s the sheriff, the maestro, the magician, the boxer, the doctor, the big baby retard and more. It lends an additional air that serious consideration went into producing this inherently silly affair. Then the video amplifies that silliness with an infectious good nature that’s impossible to resist.

The music also being damn catchy certainly doesn’t hurt the video, either. “You Got It” by indie rock band The Other Side of Morning is a hard-charging quasi-throwback to the ’90s grunge scene and a perfect fit for all the visual chaos. The extended DVD version of Clowns vs. Ninjas comes with an Other Side of Morning EP, including “You Got It” plus four other songs. I’m not much of a music critic, but I like their grungy sound.

The long version of the video on the DVD begins with a prologue featuring a pair of bored mobsters looking for a new thrill. It’s a cute little scene, shot nicely in some sort of warehouse, and featuring some funny acting by James F. Peak and Dave Alspatch. But the real gem is an introductory sequence with the clowns, none of whom know what they’re getting into. Like with a good horror movie, it’s better to care a little bit about the victims before they meet their demise. They’re a gruff bunch, led by a crusty Jeff Copas as their ringleader, the sheriff. It’s a fun sequence that sets up the premise nicely.

Also on the DVD are some nice bonus behind-the-scenes footage, including a detailed overview of the development and execution of the production and an in-depth interview with Jason Collins of Autonomous FX who explains the surprisingly complex gore effects. Plus, there’s a low-rent version of the music video cobbled together from pre-production staging meetings. It’s a very satisfying package and a good primer on how to do sophisticated FX on a nearly no-budget production.

Buy the DVD / EP package at the official Clowns vs. Ninjas website.

And for more information, visit the website for Pitch Films, the official site for director David Brocca and his producing partner Albert Brocca.

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