31 Days of Horror(1)

A couple years ago I was shopping at a Wal-Mart and browsing the cheapo DVDs as I’ve been known to do when I came upon an item.  It was a trilogy of movies I had not heard of: the tile was Killjoy and there was a Full Moon logo on the box and it was really cheap so I snagged it and took it home to watch.  I only had a few hours before work so I had time to watch the first one, I popped it into the DVD player and sat down.  30 minutes into the movie I experienced one of those awful epiphany moments where it occurred to me that I am dying and time spent watching something as dull and shoddy as this was time I would never get back.  I took the disc out of the player, placed it back in its case and threw it on the resale pile to take to the used bookstore.  That was my first and last experience with Killjoy, now I’m back to finish what I started.


Killjoy is the story of Michael (Kareem J. Grimes), a nerdy young man who just wants to be with Jada (Vera Yell) but her boyfriend Lorenzo (William L. Johnson) doesn’t like that, so he takes Michael out to scare him and unintentionally kills him when a gun he’s threatening him with turns out to be loaded.  Unbeknownst to Lorenzo, Michael has been performing black magic rituals to summon a demonic spirit into a clown doll he calls Killjoy.  When Michael is killed, the spirit is absorbed by him and he becomes a demented clown driving an ice cream truck that contains a portal to his own hellish dimension.

I will say one thing for Charles Band, he’s not afraid of diversity.  Even now in 2015 it’s rare to see a movie about people who aren’t white doing something that doesn’t somehow revolve around white people.  Killjoy is one of the more afro-centric horror movies that Band began distributing in the late 90s and early 00’s and one of the few movies I’ve seen that features no Caucasian cast members or characters at all.  Even the film’s writer Carl Washington and director Craig Ross Jr. are African American men, making this a genuine rarity.  Unfortunately the movie is disastrously bad and almost entirely unwatchable.

There are just so many wrongheaded decisions that went into making Killjoy.  The story is underdeveloped for one thing: our lead character Jada barely has any involvement with the plot until nearly the end of the movie.  She goes from being window dressing to a b-plot that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie to the heroine when some random old man arrives, tells her the events of the entire movie up until now (with flashbacks to scenes we just watched minutes ago), and tells her that only she can stop it.  Her friend Monique and boyfriend Jamal are barely even existent.

Killjoy the character is awful: a bargain basement mash-up of Pennywise, Freddy Krueger (complete with a poorly-lit warehouse subbing in for a boiler room), and The Wishmaster  His one-liners and gag deaths all feature generic ghetto trappings such as a gangster smoking a giant joint which causes him to burn up himself.  Actor Angel Vargas (who would be replaced by Full Moon regular Trent Haaga in sequels) is enthusiastic enough but never comes across as even particularly menacing, he just capers and giggles like Jack Nicholson’s The Joker.

The production quality is probably the worst feature of the movie.  The cinematography is uninspired, poorly lit, and looks to have been shot on video.  All the performances are stilted and awkward (though Michael actor Kareem Grimes is pretty good and certainly outshines his clown counterpart), at the requisite “the evil isn’t dead” moment our trio of heroes seem just mildly annoyed that the clown demon is still alive and they’re still trapped in his nightmare dimension.

And then there’s a part where Lorenzo, in attempt to murder Killjoy, fires a revolver 21 times in a row without reloading.  A gag involving the character spitting bullets which he has been shot with is lifted wholesale from The Mask.  The ending stinger features a ripoff of the ending of A Nightmare on Elm Street followed by the clown saying “”That was some good pussay!!!” and syrupy R&B music playing as the credits roll.

Killjoy is inept, unoriginal, dull, and at a miniscule 71 minutes still seems far too long.  This movie is so underdeveloped that I’m surprised it cost anything at all to make, it doesn’t even have any entertainment value as a piece of garbage cinema.  I can’t laugh at Killjoy’s mistakes, I mostly just feel embarrassed for the people who made them.  It’s a boring slog of a movie and I just can’t see why anyone at all would like it.  I definitely don’t get how it would inspire four sequels.

Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Put it in a stout box and huck it off a bridge.

If You Liked This, Watch: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), IT (1990), The Wishmaster (1997), Leprechaun (1993), Leprechaun in the Hood (2000), Tales From the Hood (1995), Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror (2006), Beetlejuice (1988), The Mask (1994)