Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Directed By: Sean Haitz & Chris Potter, Written By: Sean Haitz & John Morrisey, Starring: Sean Haitz, Bill Moseley, Austin Judd, J LaRose.
Coulrophobia-A persistent and irrational fear of clowns. Why so many seem to suffer from this is a mystery. I mean, are clowns not meant to entertain us? Are they not just part of some farcical, comedy, circus act? The answer, in part, could lie in the hands of how clowns are treated in popular culture. Most notable examples being Pennywise in Stephen King’s It, or in the real-life, case of John Wayne Gacy. It may also be that people find the idea of someone hiding behind a painted on smile to be creepy or unsettling. Whatever the reason, the world of horror latched on to the idea that evil clowns are the perfect nightmare fuel for getting under the skin of its viewer.
Reelhorrorshow.co.uk had the pleasure of being treated to an advance screener of Big Top Evil and what a treat it was.
First, I will point out that this film is a very low budget affair, but that only makes what they achieve on camera even more impressive. There is an inventive, early Peter Jackson feel to the gore, displayed on-screen. Sometimes, having less money inspires a higher level of creativity, as is evident here. My personal, favourite moment being a cleaved head, that when split in two, continues to move its eyes. It’s a great example of imagination beating budgetary restraint.
The cast comprises mostly unknown actors who do a great job overall. The biggest name being Bill Moseley, who all true horror fans will know as Otis Driftwood from The Devils Rejects or Choptop from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Bill does what Bill does best in what can be described as an extended cameo. Any fans of the Saw films will also, briefly, spot J LaRose who, if you remember, met a grizzly demise at the hands of Jigsaw in Saw 3, whereupon he found himself pulled apart by hooks.
There was only one character I didn’t take to. He is what I like to call the Crispin Glover, type character from Friday the 13th part 4. The Dead Fuck character if you remember that film as well as I do. Lots of horror movies have that character, and Big Top Evil’s Dead Fuck character is called Donny. I was more than a little eager for Donny to meet a nasty end.
The plot revolves around a group of youths who go on a road trip to visit the location of the infamous Mangrove Slasher killings. They end up lost and wind up crossing paths with a girl named Candy. She informs the group that she is a trapeze artist with a local circus and invites them along to see her perform. The gang agree and it isn’t long before they find themselves at the mercy of a horde of ravenous, cannibal clowns. From then on, it’s a fight for survival as our heroes desperately try to survive the night and avoid becoming a clown canapé.
Sean Haitz plays the main character, Jay, and he also Co-writes and directs. He clearly knows his horror and delivers a well-paced, beautifully shot film that, often reminded me of House of 1000 Corpses. I believe that given a decent budget, Haitz could deliver a movie that would put him up there with the likes of Rob Zombie. He doesn’t lack creativity. I’m always impressed by anyone who can commit to putting off a passion project despite financial limitations and having Bill Moseley be part of a project certainly won’t hurt when trying to find an audience.
If watching a clown nibbling at the protruding leg bone of someone who has stumbled into a bear trap is your thing, then you should definitely give Big Top Evil a go. If you’re a self-confessed horror junkie as we are then you should definitely support up-and-coming filmmakers. It's what keeps the genre from becoming stale.
I look forward to seeing where Haitz goes from here. Whether he stays in the realm of the low budget, Grindhouse flick or moves on to bigger, flashier movies awaits to be seen.