From the Stereo to Your Screen: The Dickies and Killer Klowns From Outer Space

“Killer Klowns From Outer Space” by the Dickies from Killer Klowns From Outer Space

 

This is, quite honestly, one of my favorite songs of all time. Any chance I have to work it onto a compilation, mix tape, radio show, podcast, or otherwise, I will foist it upon those listening. Not only is it the theme to an excellently underrated movie, but it’s probably the best punk song to ever use “Entry of the Gladiators” as its backbone.

Granted, it’s probably the only punk song to use the circus calliope as its backbone, but still — fantastically catchy song. The Dickies have always existed as this strange bunch of circus freaks playing rapid-fire covers of classic rock songs, but their originals are at once ridiculously simple pop confections, as well as intricately-worded blasts of punk.

dickies killer klowns still

The song works perfectly as the theme for the 1988 Chiodo Brothers sci-fi horror movie. Like the best theme songs, it encapsulates the plot inside a three-minute pop song. If nothing else, it’s damned close in spirit to the Five Blob’s “The Blob,” in that it musically manages to be good ol’ swingin’ fun even with lyrics about the looming inevitability of your death. For realsies: catchiest line ever to make reference to eliminating an entire group of people that’s not “Holiday In Cambodia” was written by Leonard Graves Phillips. I speak, of course, of the couplet “See a rubber nose on a painted face/ Bringing genocide to the human race.”

The video manages to simultaneously fit in with the Killer Klowns From Outer Space movie, while also ending up pretty far off the mark. You’ve got a couple of the clowns from the film doing weird things — although not the crazy things they do in the movie. It’s set in a courtroom and jail, like the sets from some cop show were the only ones readily available.

dickies killer klowns gif

Given that at no point do the clowns do much more than nod or look menacing, it’s really a let-down. There are so many chances to take the Dickies and wrap them in cotton candy, and it never happens. There’s plenty of film clips for that sort of thing, obviously, and it makes for a great highlight reel, which ought to be more than enough to convince you to see the film if you’ve not already done so.

So, all in all: great song about the movie, great that the video actually includes characters from the movie, but the two don’t really mesh all that well. Watch the movie, buy the EP, and I’m sorry the video’s such a mediocrity.

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek

Nick Spacek writes about films scores in his monthly OST column for Starburst Magazine (http://www.starburstmagazine.com), and can be found talking about movie soundtracks via the From & Inspired By podcast (http:///www.fromandinspiredby.com). He was once a punk, but realized you can't be hardcore and use the word "adorable" as often as he does.
Nick Spacek
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