Killjoy (2001) His Brother Killroy Wasn't Here.
This certainly didn't kill my joy, but I can't say it enhanced it. Urban horror flicks are a varied lot with Candyman, a story mined from a British author, sitting atop a heap that includes Blackenstein, an installment of the Leprechaun series, and at least two films featuring Snoop Dogg. Suffice it to say that the bar is set pretty low. So perhaps that's what makes Killjoy, a serviceable slasher with an all African American cast, seem like a diamond on the rough. In actuality, it's more like costume jewelry. If you were missing it after a party you'd be mad about it, but you wouldn't frisk your friends and neighbors to try and get it back. Killjoy tries to make all the right moves, but it’s like seeing a clown hit someone with a pie and thinking it’s hilarious. It’s funny, but it’s been done to death.
Michael (Jamal Grimes) is a nice guy, but unfortunately for him Jada (Vera Yell), the girl of Michael's dreams, already has a boyfriend, tough guy Lorenzo (William Johnson). When Michael won't leave Jada alone, Lorenzo and his crew kidnap him and take him to the woods to intimidate him. However, plans go amiss when Lorenzo accidentally shoots and kills Michael. What they don't know is that Michael was into some serious black magic, and before was killed we was attempting to raise a demon called Killjoy to do his bidding. A year after Michael's death, Lorenzo is hooked up with another girl and Jada is finally with a nice guy, but that doesn't stop the spirit of revenge one iota. I have no clue why he waited a year, but Killjoy, the killer clown, finally hits the scene as an ice cream truck driving drug dealer. Really, he's no carnival cut up, but rather a death dealer with a heaping scoop of comeuppance for those who lead to the demise of Michael.
As far as killer clowns go, well, I have to give the demonic Killjoy a second place to Kevin Kangas' Shivers from Fear of Clowns. However, that's not to say that Angel Vargas, who plays Killjoy, wasn't the highlight of the film. Wisecracking like Freddy, but freaky like, well, like a killer demonic clown, Vargas makes sure Killjoy is full of menace. Unfortunately, when the killer clown is not on the scene, the rest of the cast seem pleasant enough, but none of them demand your attention. They are there simply to get the viewer from one tangle with Killjoy to another. I am interested to see the sequels when Troma’s Trent Haaga takes over the role of Killjoy. I wonder if it will have the same gleeful, madcap viciousness that Vargas brought to the role.
As far as being a quality low budget slasher, Killjoy certainly should enjoy a place among them while Pennywise hogs the spotlight as far as famous horror clowns go. What really worked about this African American driven horror flick is that it didn't have to be African American characters. No one acted like Mantan Moreland. There wasn't endless talk of booty or crack or booty crack. It was a movie about a cast of kids, who weren't all that memorable, but, at least, they were not drawn as caricatures which is something desperately needed for this kind of horror film to work. Movies should not be made to enforce stereotypes. They should be made so silly clowns can make bad puns and kill people. Folks, that’s what cinema is all about.