Big Top Evil is not billing itself as a 1970s exploitation-inspired evil clown movie, but it has that distinct nasty streak for its entire runtime. This is a net positive here. While the film is never all that scary, thanks to a high body count and tons of gore, it is continually entertaining. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. What is this horror film, even about?
In order to get his mind off of his cheating ex Jay’s (Sean Haitz) friends—Veronica (Chanté Demoustes), Casey (Jisaura Cardinale), Scott (Cameron Hall), Donny (Morgan Ferreira), Kate (Grace Haitz), and Trevor (Chris Potter)—convince him to go on a road trip. They are heading to where the fictional film Mangrove Slasher was filmed, but get lost. They stop for the night at a little hotel off a country road.
“Any guests that say yes to the generous offer wind up as dinner for the carnival workers…”
A circus is just down the road, and everyone decides to check it out. See, Donny, who is a bit awkward around women, hit off with Candy (Austin Judd), who is a performer there. However, the clowns at this particular big top have more than colorful makeup and slapstick antics on their mind. Shortly after the show has ended, select folks are invited to see the magic behind the curtain. Any guests that say yes to the generous offer wind up as dinner for the carnival workers. Now, Jay, Casey, and the others must escape the cannibal clowns.
Big Top Evil is written, directed, producer, and stars Sean Haitz; with John Morrisey co-writing. As such, I am positive the grindhouse feel wasn’t just deliberate but thoroughly thought out before and during production. Haitz shows a firm grasp on audience expectations for a film like this and mostly pays them off. For one, he doesn’t get bogged down in too many details. The group gets lost and are beset upon by dozens of cannibal clowns. Such a clean and simple set up allows for the focus to remain where it should. That is, of course, the chills and thrills of the slayings.
"…a 1970s exploitation inspired evil clown movie..."