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Films That Time Forgot: The Clown Murders (1975)

The Clown Murders (1975)

Director: Martyn Burke

Tagline: "It started as a joke…"

Plot: Four snobby college chums—including a constantly snacking John Candy—conspire to screw with their annoying fatcat boss by putting on clown costumes and kidnapping his wife, in order to prevent him from closing on a land deal that will turn a family farm into an apartment complex. But after they do the deed, they can't stop bickering with each other over whether this is all a big joke or an actual crime. And then, out of nowhere, a mysterious maniac in a clown mask shows up. Who could it be? The perpetually picked-on Candy?

The sexually aggressive asshole who always picks on Candy?

Or maybe the caretaker's creepy son, who looks like Gary Oldman and gets an ominous snap-zoom every time he appears?

Whoever it is, one thing's clear: An angry clown is a dangerous clown.

Key scenes: When they first discuss the plan, the most persuasive argument they can come up with is, "Come on, we haven't had a good caper together since we put the fox and the hounds in the clubhouse." Well, that, and a spontaneous chorus of their old school song:

Later, when everything starts to go awry, a tussle between two of the clown-suited kidnappers is broken up by snot-nosed trick-or-treaters, who mock them mercilessly:

And when all hell starts breaking loose, the kidnap victim decides the best course of action is to seduce Candy, which leads to some never-to-be-forgotten shots of John Candy in the throes of ecstasy:

But when you're dealing with a movie called The Clown Murders, there can be no scene more key than the one where the clown starts a-murderin':

Can easily be distinguished by: A cast that's about ten years older and three times richer than the usual slasher fodder, and a score that sounds like a cross between a broken hurdy-gurdy and the soundtrack to an Italian melodrama.

Sign that it was made in 1975: Toronto-based venture capitalists are still dreaming of the day when they'll have their very own major league baseball team.

Timeless message: Soap opera dialogue sounds better when delivered by men in clown suits:

Also, clown kidnappings are zany:

Memorable quotes: When Candy tries to correct his asshole friend's anecdote about an ex-girlfriend, the asshole snaps, "How would you recognize one woman from another, huh? I mean they all look like one big cheeseburger to you."