Color, 2012, 93m
Directed by John Lechago
Starring Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Tai Chan Ngo, Jessica Whitaker, Al Burke, John Karyus, Stephen Cardwell, Aqueela Zoll, Jason R. Moore
Full Moon (DVD) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD2.0
One of the weirdest success stories in recent low budget horror has to be the Killjoy series, a Full Moon franchise begun with inauspicious first installments in 2000 and 2002, a lackluster pair of stories about a demonic killer clown stalking some kids. Things took a drastic leap up in quality with Killjoy 3 (aka Killjoy's Revenge), with director John Lechago taking over the reins and delivering a colorful, surrealistic little cult classic with a spirited lead performance by Trent Haaga and, perhaps even better, the introduction of Batty Boop, a lime-haired, body-painted she-demon (played by Victoria De Mare) who made an energetic foil for our anti-hero.
Injecting the series with even more punchy insanity is the fourth and best installment (to date), Killjoy Goes to Hell, which spins the story off in a completely different and much more ambitious direction. The springboard here is the clever idea of repurposing The Devil and Daniel Webster with the demon clown tricked by a witch into returning to the underworld, where he's blasted down an elevator to Satan's court and put on trial for failing to claim his last victim's soul and generally coming up short in the evil department. That survivor from the last film, Sandy (Whitaker), is now being interrogated by police who think she murdered all of her friends, but her continuous giggling leads Detective Ericson (Moore) to connect her to the legends of Killjoy. Meanwhile in Hell, Killjoy gets an appointed attorney, Skid Mark (Poultrygeist's Karyus), while the leggy, martini-sipping prosecutor, Jezabeth (Zoll), seems unusually determined to send Killjoy up the river Styx.
Weird, nutty, and wildly entertaining even at the longer-than-usual-for-Full-Moon length of just over 90 minutes, Killjoy Goes to Hell cements the series' reputation as Full Moon's strongest in its current stable. The actors and dialogue are surprisingly clever, the hell sequences are visually inventive even on a limited budget, and even the scenes in the real world develop the story and push things along to a particularly berserk climax. Also noteworthy is the atmospheric and sometimes rousing score by Michael Sean Colin (who also scored Lechango's last three films), using what were probably minimal means to craft a richer soundscape than you'd ever expect. As usual Haaga and De Mare are the MVPs here (the latter combining her goofy voice and raw athleticism to intoxicating effect), but series newcomers Zoll (a newbie, apparently) and Karyus fit in perfectly alongside alums like Al Burke as Punchy. There's even some bizarre monster action during the melee at the end that might make this a fun co-feature with Killer Klowns from Outer Space, too.
Pretty much on par with the presentation for the third film, Full Moon's DVD features a colorful anamorphic transfer that delivers the eye-popping reds and greens about as well as NTSC can stand. (Hint, hint, Full Moon: a Blu-Ray double bill of this and the third film would be awfully nice.) Lensed in HD, it's a pretty slick-looking production, and the stereo audio mix sounds just fine, especially during the action and hell transportation scenes. As for extras, you get a six-minute featurette about the making of the film (featuring some FX shots and interviews with the cast) along with trailers for the first three Puppet Master films, Castle Freak, Zombies vs. Strippers, Killjoy's Revenge, and promos for their Grindhouse line and Reel Evil.