Movie Review: “Killjoy’s Psycho Circus”

  It isn’t everyday I am able to direct a horror trilogy from a single director. I reviewed all of David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot trilogy. I have Renny Harlin’s new The Strangers trilogy to look forward to. One of these days I will finish my review of The Devil’s Rejects and wrap up my thoughts on Rob Zombie’s The Firefly Trilogy. As it turns out, I can also now cross John Lechago’s Killjoy trilogy off the list. As a series, the Killjoy series has been, mixed (Killjoy 3 and Killjoy Goes to Hell), at best, and godawful at worst (Killjoy and Killjoy 2). However, I did, honestly and truly, enjoy Killjoy Goes to Hell. Whereas Killjoy 3 received a 1.5 out of 5.0, Killjoy Goes to Hell received a 2.5 out of 5.0. It may not seem like a whole, whole lot, but it was a considerable improvement in my opinion, and it is the best Full Moon Feature I have reviewed of the new millennium, which has been plagued by less than stellar fare. 

   I was so hyped for what would come next for Killjoy and his group that I even backed Full Moon Features’ Kickstarter, procuring myself a DVD copy of the new film (which is still unopened – oddly, here I am, watching the film on Tubi TV). See, even when I harp on Full Moon Features, I still want them to succeed and am willing to support them.

   This new film is called Killjoy’s Psycho Circus, and it serves as a direct sequel to Killjoy Goes to Hell, seeing Killjoy, now on Earth, as a mere mortal, instead of the supernatural slasher villain he was before. Not unlike Killjoy 3, Psycho Circus sees the character approached with a light-heart, playful approach. I feel like I was right when I mentioned it as similar to the MTV Freddy Krueger, on a lower scale, blended with Loony Tunes and Adam Sandler – esque juvenile humor. When I said I could imagine Killjoy Goes to Hell as an animated film, it was definitely something in the lower card like Hotel Transylvania.

   Like Killjoy 3, this film is a little bit of a mess. Unfortunately, this mess feels more low effort and more lacking in direction. Although Full Moon Features has never been able to fully nail comedy during the best of times, I would argue that Full Moon Features’ humor has worked best with movies like The Creeps, Head of the Family, and Re-Animator, where the humor is more based in surrealism and audacity than it is directly trying to be funny. The humor from Evil Bong, The Gingerdead Man, and Killjoy are three series from the new millennium that act as a fair microcosm of what Full Moon Features generally is these days. The humor is lazy, the lowest hanging fruits, low effort schmuck. Killjoy Goes to Hell felt like a rare outlier from the unfortunate new status quo, evoking old-school cartoons and amounting to a rather entertaining mess. 

   Killjoy’s Psycho Circus sees Killjoy trying to run his own television broadcast, a surrealist, but fun concept, that ultimately doesn’t yield very much. The humor is cruder. The film is meta, with Killjoy even interviewing Trent Haaga (himself), feigning it as though the previous films themselves are now in-world. The film also sees crossovers with other films in the Full Moon Universe. Batty Boop is replaced in story by an impostor that is the main protagonist from the first Gingerdead Man and Larnell, the main protagonist from Evil Bong, also appears. All of this doesn’t add up to very much, even as somebody who was able to recognize them. It’s like the Family Guy humor where it is a cameo or reference rather than a story development or an actual joke. Meanwhile, actual ads like one for Adam & Eve, the adult film store, also occur. In fact, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus doesn’t simply include product placement, but it has actively embedded the product placement into its film. I know why too – this was a part of the IndieGogo campaign for the film! I believe it was that anyone who paid $6,000 would have their product embedded into the script. Jeez. I understand that you have to keep the lights on, but … my God does it leave an awful taste in my mouth with this film.

   This is something I wasn’t certain whether I wanted to write or not, because I thought it would be taken as too condescending or rude of a remark, but I feel like, most times, I find myself wishing Full Moon Features wasn’t a movie company, but the producer of a television show. So many of the films I have reviewed over the years feel far more suited to be an episode of a Goosebumps or Twilight Zone style program. Sometimes I wish Full Moon Features would experiment with their antiquated approach and embrace new, creative ideas. Frankly, whereas Killjoy Goes to Hell felt like it could have been chopped and edited to make for a solid episode or short film, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus feels like a string of YouTube videos stitched together, of corny skits and half-baked ideas. This approach would have even allowed them to do their little Adam & Eve advertisement a little less shamelessly. Hell, give Five Dollar Shave Club a call. Killjoy starring in a Last Drive-In style talk show could have been a fun short-term idea, spoon-feeding the goofy tarn they had spun. As is, this film loses the plot, offering the culmination of the Killjoy franchise going bonkers, with a spaceship battle and other nonsense. There is a charm there, but the film crosses into the bad faith territory for me, where I see a film trying to sell itself on its own badness rather than trying to do something with limited resources and too high ambition. The last half hour in particular about a company that didn’t give a fuck in the worst of ways.

   As a film, it is the worst of the “Killjoy” trilogy (but, still better than Killjoy and Killjoy 2), offering a mess of ideas being thrown at the wall for a bloated runtime, and none of them sticking.

Rating: – 1.5 out of 5.0