Killjoy is a rarity amongst horror franchises as it actually improves with each successive sequel. Despite being an avid collector of everything Full Moon over the last twenty years, I must admit that Killjoy and its first sequel always seemed to lurk at the back of my collection – out of sight, out of mind. I was intrigued at the direction that Full Moon were going at the time (circa 2000) and Killjoy seemed part of a move towards more urban orientated output. We had flicks like Horrible Doctor Bones, The Vault and Ragdoll – but with directors like (the very fine) Ted Nicolau attached, it seemed somewhat of a mismatch.
Fast forward ten years or so and Charles Band announces Killjoy 3 and I presume that more of the same will be delivered. To my surprise however, Killjoy 3 ended up being the best film Full Moon have released in about ten years – it was excellent, primarily thanks to the lead performance by Trent Hagga who returns in the fourth and latest film in the series, Killjoy Goes to Hell.
Ok – a brief paragraph on the contentious issue surrounding this films UK release, the retitling to Killer Clown. We’ve been here before with Full Moon and UK distributors, mainly during the dark days of Film 2000 where Dangerous Worry Dolls was changed to Dangerous Chucky Dolls (seriously!) and Decadent Evil morphed into Decadent Evil Dead for some bizarre reason. So far, every Full Moon fan has to be pretty damned happy with the care, consideration and respect that 88 Films have shown the films of Charles Band – particularly as they’re a label that have set up in the most difficult retail trading conditions imaginable, and have been releasing the films of a company which takes the word niche and multiplies it to the max. For me I’m giving them a free pass with this name change. A film titled Killer Clown will shift a good amount of units especially with supermarket exposure, and if that guarantees another year of 88 Films and brings more Charles Band films to the UK, I’m willing to turn a blind eye and back them.
Anyway, I have a film to review here! Killjoy has been summoned to his arraignment and is asked how he pleads. He’s being charged by the devil of incompetence, ineptitude, inadequacy and a general lack of evil! Meanwhile the one student who escaped from Killjoy 3, Sandie (Jessica Whitaker) is being questioned by the police as to the whereabouts of her friends. Unfortunately for them though, all she is capable of is giggling hysterically.
After a doctor speaks to Sandie, the only name that comes to light is that of Killjoy the demonic clown, and he wastes no time in phoning the detective to suggest this could be a potential lead. Back in hell, Killjoy has befriended a lawyer with whom he’s sharing his cell, and after listening to advice decides that summoning his fabled cohorts could be a beneficial move – so we welcome back Freakshow, Batty Boop and Punchy just in time for the trial of the century!
Killjoy Goes to Hell is a great ride and manages to continue the series’ gradual rise in quality, but without diminishing its originality. It would have been easy for returning director John Lechago to simply crank out another four college kids into a different scenario, but instead he opts for a true sequel with an original bold storyline.
For a film shot in seven days it’s filmed really well. The sets look good and varied, and also the CGI hell prison is well created and far more professional than something that may befit this budget. Finally, the film as expected belongs to Trent Hagga. He owns the character of Killjoy now and embodies it with equal measures of menace and humour. All credit must go to Trent, and of course to John Lechago for turning what was once a curious misfire in the Full Moon filmography into one of its jewels.