How cult movie ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ became a theme park maze and a video game

In the late 80s, brothers Stephen, Charles and Edward Chiodo made the film “Killer Klowns of Outer Space”, a humorous sci-fi thriller featuring murderous clowns in savage outfits who wielded goofy weapons.

It was a passion project for the brothers, who wrote, directed and produced the film, as well as created all the practical effects and makeup. Although not a huge box office hit in 1988, it garnered a cult following when it was released on VHS and hit the shelves of video rental stores. Over the years its popularity has grown and even now teenagers have been spotted walking around Universal CityWalk wearing ‘Killer Klowns’ t-shirts like Universal Studios Hollywood’s Annual Halloween Horror Nights opened earlier this month.

“We just thought we made a pretty neat movie, but it’s nice to know that nearly 35 years later, we’re entering a fourth generation of ‘Killer Klown’ fans,” Charles Chiodo said as he walked with his brothers on the red carpet. at the opening of Halloween Horror Nights, which features a dizzying maze based on “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.” This labyrinth, and seven others, are open select nights inside the theme park until October 31.

  • The creators of the 1988 horror, comedy and science fiction film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ (left to right: composer and sound designer John Massari and writers, directors and producers Edward Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo and Charles Chiodo) pose on the red carpet at the opening of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, which features a maze based on their cult film. The event is now open on select nights until October 31. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff, Getty Images for Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • From the creators of the 1988 horror, comedy and sci-fi film...

    The creators of the 1988 horror, comedy and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ (left to right: writers, directors and producers Edward Chiodo, Stephen Chiodo and Charles Chiodo) pose on the red carpet at the opening of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights which features a maze based on their cult classic film. The event is now open on select nights until October 31. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff, Getty Images for Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

  • A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 film...

    A scene from inside a maze based on the 1988 horror, comedy, and sci-fi film ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. The seasonal event features eight new attractions at the theme park and is open select nights until October 31. (Photo by David Sprague, Universal Studios Hollywood)

The Chiodo Brothers agree the attraction is as close to fans as it gets on the set of the film, which was filmed on California’s central coast. Set in the fictional town of Crescent Cove, the film follows alien clowns and their circus tent-like spaceship as it crashes on Earth. Inside the maze, guests must dodge these clowns and avoid being put into cotton candy-shaped cocoons. All attractions are multi-sensory experiences and while the others use scents like “dead body” or “rotten flesh” to increase the fear factor, the “Killer Klowns” maze smells more like cotton candy, popcorn and caramel apples.

“That’s how the Klowns have you,” Stephen Chiodo said with a laugh. “They lure you in with this, then go for the kill!” »

This is the second time a “Killer Klowns” maze has made its way into Universal’s annual scare-a-thon. HHN creative director John Murdy was a teenager when the film was released and remembers seeing it in theaters during a midnight screening. He became obsessed with the film and its soundtrack, which featured one of his favorite punk rock bands, the San Fernando Valley-based band The Dickies, who wrote and performed the title track.

“I went to see this movie because I was a fan of The Dickies,” Murdy said. “I loved it, and then I worked in a video store in high school and college and saw the beginnings of this cult after it came out on VHS at the time. When I did the maze in 2019 i had no idea how popular it was and was just shocked how fans flocked to this maze as much as they flocked to “stranger things” which was the hottest thing at the time .

Composer John Massari, who grew up in Garden Grove, said making the music for this particular film was one of the greatest joys of his life and career.

“We worked on this movie like it was going to be a masterpiece,” said Massari, who has racked up numerous television and film credits since. “We put all our energy into this crazy, crazy idea, but I’m so lucky people’s eyes stopped rolling when I told them I worked on this movie. It’s one favorite projects I’ve ever done and I’ve done all kinds of things throughout my career now but this one is the most expensive We have the fans to thank for all of that love and dedication they have for this wonderful little film are the reason we are here today.

For years, there’s been talk of reboots, sequels, and even a TV series based on the film, none of which came to fruition. However, interest in the film did not wane. A slew of officially licensed toys and action figures became blockbusters in the mid-2000s, and the merchandise soared off the shelves of Spirit Halloween stores when it was released last year.

Last month, it was announced that “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” would officially become a multiplayer video game slated for release in early 2023.

“Who doesn’t want to kill a Klown,” Stephen Chiodo joked about the video game. “The way they did it is amazing and the weapons the Klowns have are unlike any other weapon in any other game, so I think that really makes this game different from anything out there.”

“There is a community component and you can play as a team and work together as townspeople or as Klowns,” added Edward Chiodo. “If you work in a group, you’re stronger and you have those fearsome enemies in the game.”

Massari is also back on this project, creating new music for the gaming experience.

“I was thrilled when they asked me to score the video game,” he said. “The game is… well, it’s next level. What they’ve done with it is really next level and it’s exciting and I just appreciate the whole thing.

Halloween Horror Nights

When: 7 p.m. some evenings Sept. 8-Oct. 31

Where: Universal Studios Hollywood, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City

Tickets: $72 to $102 general admission; $179 to $289 Universal Express; $219 to $329 Universal Express Unlimited; $112 to $154 after 2 p.m.; day/night pass; RIP tour from $319 to $449; $199 Frequent Fear Pass; $329 Ultimate Fear Pass. All tickets are now on sale at universalstudioshollywood.com.

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