Killer Klowns from Outer Space Is a Low-Key Remake of The Blob

If you’re a hardcore horror fan, you’re probably familiar with Killer Klowns from Outer Space. It’s one of the best and most beloved horror comedies of all time, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a genre veteran who hasn’t at least heard of it. But despite the film’s long-running popularity, it still holds a few secrets that aren’t quite as widely known. For example, most people are unaware that it’s actually a low-key remake of the 1958 camp classic The Blob.

Now, I’m sure that sounds preposterous at first blush. If you’ve seen these two movies, you know they’re very different. One is about a hilarious group of murderous clowns, and the other revolves around a seemingly impersonal blob of red goo, so there’s no way Killer Klowns from Outer Space could possibly be a remake of The Blob…right?

Wrong. Granted, the monsters in these films are worlds apart, but if that’s as far as you go, you’re not going deep enough. To see how similar these movies really are, we have to look at the stories they build around their titular villains, and when we do that, we’ll see that Killer Klowns from Outer Space really is a low-key remake of The Blob.

The Old Man and the Circus Tent

Two people looking amused

Let’s start at the beginning. After a brief opening introducing us to one of the characters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space starts in earnest with two teenagers, Mike and Debbie, on a date at a local “lovers’ spot.” During their time together, they see a mysterious glowing object shoot across the sky, and they decide to go on the move and find where the thing landed.

At the same time, an elderly man who lives alone with his dog also sees this strange phenomenon, and he thinks it’s Halley’s Comet. He too goes in search of the object, but instead, he finds a circus tent in the woods. He decides to check the place out, and he and his dog get captured by the alien clowns.

By the time Mike and Debbie arrive on the scene, the old man is nowhere to be found, but soon enough, they realize that something isn’t quite right. The inside of the tent is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, and when they find the old man’s body cocooned in cotton candy, it becomes crystal clear that this isn’t a normal circus. Rather, it’s the mysterious glowing object they saw come crashing down to earth, and after barely escaping with their lives, they run away and tell the police about their bizarre experience.

Now, if you’ve never seen The Blob, you might not have any idea where I’m going with this, but if you’re familiar with that film, you probably know exactly what I’m going to say next. In fact, even if you’ve never seen Killer Klowns from Outer Space, those opening scenes will probably sound familiar to you because The Blob opens in a very similar way. Sure, the details and the tone are very different, but if we broaden our scope, we’ll see that the beginnings of both movies hit on a lot of the same basic plot points.

Two people talking

For example, The Blob also opens with a teenage couple, this time named Steve and Jane, on a date at a local “lovers’ spot,” and they see a meteorite flash across the sky and land not too far away. Similarly, an elderly man who lives alone with his dog also sees the meteorite, and he goes out to see where it landed.

When he finds the spot, the titular blob attacks him, but it’s not big enough to kill him right away. Instead, it just attaches itself to the guy’s hand, and soon afterward, Steve and Jane encounter him on the way back from their date. They realize that he needs help, so they take him to the doctor, and when they get there, they find that the blob has grown and taken over his entire arm.

The doctor tells them to go check out the spot where the meteorite landed, and soon afterward, the creature grows even bigger and consumes its victim entirely. Then, it attacks the doctor and his nurse too, and when the kids return to check on the old man, they initially find no sign of him or the doctor. But after a minute or two, Steve sees the doctor struggling with the monster, and he runs away with Jane to tell the police about these strange events.

As I said, the details of these two openings are very different, but if we broaden our perspective a bit, we can see a whole bunch of important similarities as well. They both involve teenagers at a “lovers’ spot,” an object flashing across the sky like a meteorite, an elderly man who finds it and becomes the monsters’ first victim, and kids who encounter the creatures and then run away to tell the police.

In fact, I’d even say that those parallels are too numerous and too specific to just be a coincidence. The beginning of Killer Klowns from Outer Space was obviously modeled on the first act of The Blob, so even though these movies are about very different monsters, they still start out by telling more or less the same story.

A Tale of Two Cops

People in a police station

And as the films continue, the similarities just keep piling up. For instance, consider the police officers the main characters encounter. Killer Klowns from Outer Space features two of them, and they’re just about as different as can be. First, we have Officer Curtis Mooney, an older, curmudgeonly man who hates teenagers. In fact, the first time we meet him, he’s bringing some kids into the station for drinking in public, and he handles them in an exceedingly rough manner. On the complete other end of the spectrum, there’s Officer Dave Hanson, a younger cop who’s much more down to earth and who treats teenagers a lot more fairly and humanely.

When Mike and Debbie first go to the station to tell the police about the killer clowns, Curtis just dismisses their story out of hand and insults them, but Dave is willing to hear them out. He even goes with Mike to the place where the kids met the creatures, and he only becomes angry when they find nothing there.

Eventually, Dave changes his tune and begins helping Mike and Debbie when he discovers conclusive proof that they were actually telling the truth, but Curtis remains steadfast in his denial up until his well-deserved death. While Dave is away with Mike, he stays at the station and receives multiple calls about the clowns, but he doesn’t believe any of them. He thinks it’s just a prank orchestrated by Mike’s friends the Terenzi brothers, two kids he especially dislikes, and at one point, he even says that the pranksters are targeting him specifically and trying to “break me down, drive me out of the force.”

Now, when we turn back to The Blob, we find that the film actually has three police officers, but unsurprisingly, it focuses mostly on two of them, Sgt. Jim Bert and Lt. Dave Barton. Much like Curtis in Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Jim is a grumpy fellow who seems to hate teenagers (and especially Steve’s friends Tony, Mooch, and Al), and up until the final scene, he thinks Steve and Jane are just trying to pull a prank.

People looking through a ransacked room

In fact, there’s even a moment when he utters a line that’s very reminiscent of Curtis’ attitude in Killer Klowns from Outer Space. He says, “I think they’ve got it in for me…They heard about my war record, and it bugs them. They’re trying to break me down, see what makes me tick. Anything they can try, they try.”

In contrast, Dave is much more lenient and understanding, just like his counterpart of the same name in Killer Klowns from Outer Space. While he doesn’t quite believe the kids’ story at first, he’s willing to investigate it, and at one point in the movie, Steve suggests that his friends ask to speak with Dave when they call the police to tell them about the blob. This kid knows his local cops, and he knows that Dave is much more likely than Jim to take them seriously.

So just like the opening act, it’s clear that the police officers in Killer Klowns from Outer Space are also modeled on The Blob. Granted, the good cop/bad cop dichotomy is common enough that it could be a coincidence, but the other parallels are too specific to be anything other than intentional.

For example, the bad officers both think they’re being directly targeted by a prank, the good officers are both named Dave, and the bad cops both have a particular dislike of the main characters’ friends. The similarities are just impossible to miss, so once again, we see that despite their very different monsters, these two movies are still telling the same basic story.

The Terenzi Brothers

People with an ice cream truck

Last but not least, let’s talk a bit about the main characters’ friends in each film. In Killer Klowns from Outer Space, they’re a pair of brothers, Paul and Rich Terenzi, and we meet them very soon after the movie begins. These kids drive an ice cream truck, and for some reason, they think it’s a good idea to take it to the “lovers’ spot” where Mike and Debbie are having their date. There are multiple couples there, so these guys apparently think they’re going to make a killing.

But as you could probably guess, they have no such luck. The lovebirds there just want these bozos to get lost, so the Terenzis are forced to leave the place with their tails between their legs. However, later on in the movie, they redeem themselves (somewhat, at least) and take on a much more important role in the story. Mike eventually recruits them to help warn people about the clowns, so they use the loudspeaker on their ice cream truck to get the word out. Then, in the film’s final battle, they help Mike, Debbie, and Dave defeat the aliens once and for all.

Unsurprisingly, when we turn to The Blob, we find that Steve’s friends Tony, Mooch, and Al play almost the exact same role in this movie that the Terenzi brothers do in Killer Klowns from Outer Space. For starters, these kids’ initial appearance in the film also revolves around a car, but this time, it’s not an ice cream truck. It’s just a normal passenger car, and when they first appear on screen, they’re challenging Steve to a race with it.

Then, later on in The Blob, Steve needs to warn the town about the danger they’re in, so he recruits these three guys to help. Much like the Terenzis, they do what they can to spread the word about the blob, and at the end of the movie, they also lend a hand in the final battle against the monster.

A Low-Key Remake

A giant clown attacking a truck

Aside from those three major parallels, there are also some other, more minor similarities between Killer Klowns from Outer Space and The Blob. For example, both films bring their heroes face to face with a giant version of the villain at the end, and they both close on a somewhat ambiguous note.  Granted, some of these parallels are insignificant in themselves, but when we take them all together, the big ones as well as the small ones, it becomes pretty hard to deny that these movies do in fact tell the same basic story. 

And in a nutshell, here’s what that story is. A meteorite falls to earth and unleashes vicious alien monsters (The Blob only has one monster, but you get the idea) on a small town, and they claim an elderly man as their first victim. Then, after a teenage couple encounters the creatures, it’s up to them to find a way to save the human race. They try to tell the police, but one of the officers they encounter hates teenagers and refuses to believe them. Luckily, the other one is much more understanding, and for the most part, they can count him as an ally.

Eventually, the kids decide that they need some reinforcements, so they recruit a few friends to help spread the word about the monsters. Then, these teenagers and the good cop have to band together to finally defeat the creatures that have descended upon their town, and in the end, they emerge victorious…for now.

Admittedly, I’ve left out a lot of little details, and I’ve smoothed a few things over, but in broad strokes, that’s the basic plot of both of these movies. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is clearly modeled on The Blob from beginning to end, so even though it features very different monsters, it’s fair to say that it’s a low-key remake of that 1950s camp classic.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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