I’ll be the first to admit – the new millennium has been rough for Full Moon Features. The first couple years sawseries installments like Trancers 6, a negatively received installment to their science-fiction series that saw the main-character of the previous five films recast, as well as Puppet Master: The Legacy, a stitched together film mostly made-up of recycled footage from earlier entries in the series. Not only that, but Charles Band went through a dark, moody phase where he re-branded Full Moon Features as Shadow Films, acknowledging how the films had strayed away from his original vision and that they’d lost that Full Moon magic (and yes, the jig is up, this is why I call it Full Moon Magic Mondays!).
This decade also saw the launch of more absurdist series’ like Evil Bong and Gingerdead Man, and product placement embedded into film narratives in ways I still find myself cringing over. The 2000s weren’t so bad, with occasional flickers of what originally brought them to the dance, but the 2010s have been very rough. October 2000 saw the launch of the Killjoy franchise, a series I actually have a lot of attachment toward.
I will dig into whether or not that’s warranted shortly, but, as I’m certain you’ve noticed, this edition of Full Moon Magic Mondays! isn’t acknowledging Killjoy or it’s 2002 sequel. A lot of my affection for the series actually arises from Killjoy and Killjoy 2, respectively, but that isn’t because I thought they were enjoyable movies. One of my fondest memories from my high-school years was sitting on a friend’s back-porch, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, while both films played from a projector. Saying the films were bad would be an understatement. In-fact, if I reviewed either of them, they’d certainly finding their way on the bottom of “The List,” especially the second film. They were blaxploitation slasher films with an “urban” soundtrack funking it up in the background, and, … I wouldn’t recommend them. Instead, I’ll be skipping them, and jumping straight into Killjoy 3.
Released at the tail-end of 2010, Killjoy 3 feels mostly removed from its predecessors. There is small references throughout, mostly in the opening, but it can otherwise be seen without needing the followups. Killjoy 3 is written and directed by John Lechago, a name I hadn’t heard of, that also went onto direct Killjoy Goes to Hell and Killjoy Psycho Circus, respectively, and will helm the upcoming Blade (Puppet Master spin-off) film for Full Moon in 2020. The film also sees Trent Haaga as the titular clown, a decision that’s among the smartest choices in-terms of righting the series. Trent Haaga can be seen in many other independent horror films (he has had some involvement with Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma brand), but I’m more fond of him because of his writing credentials which include a film called Deadgirl (a disturbed concept I thought was unique) and his work on The Evil Within 2 (the video-game). Unlike the other films I’ve reviewed thus far on Full Moon Magic Mondays!, this film isn’t available on TubiTV, I did, however, own a copy of this film on DVD.
Killjoy 3 sees the demon clown summoned again, but, this time, he is not given a name for his victim and, thereby, remained trapped in his realm. In an attempt to remedy is predicament, Killjoy makes use of a magic mirror, luring four college students into his realm in-order to inflict his flower-gun carnage! However, Killjoy has not come alone, and, instead, he finds himself joined by a new assortment of clowns: a larger fella named Punchy, a Harley Quinn – esque Batty Boop, and a mime with his conjoined twin named Freakshow.
I knew if I wanted to a definitive exploration of Full Moon Features on Mashers Club, I would need to at least dabble into the Killjoy series. Something I discovered, however, was how much I overrated Killjoy 3 for all these years. It’s something that happens sometimes, especially back when I would watch every independent horror film I could reach my hands on, where the slightest break from mundane normality feels amplified. What I remembered best about Killjoy 3 was the portrayal by Trent Haaga. It was over-the-top and cheesy, but I distinctly remembered him as charismatic and enjoyable, almost akin to the later Elm Street movies when Freddy started to really double-down on the comedy. And, you know what, forgetting the frizzy clown-hair, I really liked the look of Killjoy in this film. There’s other scenes that depict him in a more “demonic form,” which basically sees the frizzy hair swapped with horns. I’d call that look a slight improvement, but, unfortunately, it has setbacks as well, being as how the rubber horns wobble like a cheap Halloween costume as he talks. Overall though, he looked playfully menacing and memorable, exactly what I’d want from a clown-slasher flick.
The set design is on the lower-tier side, although, it does have its glimmers of inspiration. I particularly liked the cutaway dream sequences which felt, once more, akin to something out of A Nightmare on Elm Street. The limitations are obvious – the set is mostly contained to a house and Killjoy’s evil lair comprised of some curtains and other smoke and mirror tricks to cheaply instill a sense of atmosphere. I enjoyed some of it, but the lighting and camera-work for some of the scenes in house felt very low-budgeted and unpolished. As mentioned, I like the appearance and costume choice for Killjoy, and I think that sentiment carries over to the other cast of clowns. I especially liked the appearance of Freakshow, even if his “conjoined twin” plastic doll attachment was very goofy.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film is mostly in shambles, very much so, in-fact. Killjoy’s victims feel ho-hum and bored, reading their lines without injecting them with any life, and, frankly, you couldn’t blame them with how little they were given.
The central conflict of Killjoy, his rules, and how to deal with him, also feel very loose and inconsistent. Sometimes it even feels like they’re creating the script for this film as they go and mushing things together in whichever way’s most convenient. The female clown Batty Boop is smitten with Killjoy, and suddenly, in a matter of one scene, she’s jealously fighting over him. Then, the protagonists uncover a hidden weakness from Killjoy in a manufactured, unearned manner that feels forced and, ahem, laughable.
Killjoy 3 is an improvement on Killjoy and Killjoy 2, but I can’t say it was the quality Full Moon Feature film I remembered. It’s a messy, subpar production that flirts with elements of horror series’ like Elm Street and even the IT miniseries (or now, the newer films) by subverting reality, but never comes together for something coherent. It isn’t the worst film among Full Moon Features’ catalog by any stretch, but it isn’t one of the diamonds in the rough either.