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The Clown at Midnight

A murderous clown stalks a group of teenagers who are refurbishing an old opera house.

Genre - Genre Classics

Director(s) - Jean Pellerin

Writer(s) - Kenneth J. Hall

Cast - Christopher Plummer, Margot Kidder, Tatyana Ali, Sarah Lassez and James Duval

Blue Rider's Role - Executive producers

Release Date - 1998

Synopsis - The teenage daughter of a murdered diva struggles to discover the truth about her mother's assailant in this chilling thriller. Encouraged by her best friend, Monica (Tatyana Ali), Kate (Sarah Lassez) joins the high school drama class at a deserted theater where she meets the mysterious theater owner Harlan Caruthers (Christopher Plummer), who insists the opera house is haunted by the victim's ghost.

Though Kate finds consolation from her drama teacher Ms. Gibby (Margot Kidder), her visions over the dreaded event intensify after witnessing the odd behavior of fellow student George (James Duval), a brooding make-up artist who revels in the theater's horrific past.

Kate's sense of dread escalates to a point where her visions of a homicidal Clown not only torment her, but the other students who are soon trapped in the haunted theater with her. The elusive and psychotic figure murders the students, one by one, until finally, when the clock strikes midnight, Kate is left alone to face the Clown and her fate.

Festival Screening:
The film was selected for the 1999 Fantastisk Film Festival in Lund, Sweden.

Critics' Kudos:
Frederick Nordstrom, "I really loved it the first time I saw it, and now, six years later I still really enjoy it. It is the best clown horror flick since It, and no one can deny that. It's really a shame that it never got to see a US DVD release, as it surely deserves it. For anyone who's a fan of killer clowns, this is a must; order the DVD from Europe. I prefer the German one as it has gotten the best treatment by far.

"The acting is pretty good. We also get to see old horror icons like Cristopher Plummer and Margot Kidder. One thing I did like was how the director brought back the Italian giallo feeling from the good old days. That really was something that the movie had going for it."

Dustin Putman, Rec.Arts.Movies.Reviews: "It is a slasher flick, plain and simple, but what is so unanticipated is that the film is a step above many of the recent horror movies that have been released theatrically, and coming from Artisan Entertainment, this film deserves more notice.

"What differentiates The Clown at Midnight from the norm are some fairly nail-biting and stylishly executed moments. Aside from the startling opening, the murder set-pieces always try to suck as much suspense out of each situation as possible, especially one set in the basement, in which the location of the killer is almost impossible to predict. This particular sequence genuinely surprised me.

"The performances are almost unanimously above-par for the direct-to-video horror subgenre. The standout is Ali (TV's "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "Jawbreaker"), who is not only spunky and cute, but also truly likable--an amazing feat for such an underwritten part. Give The Clown at Midnight a chance; you may be pleasantly surprised."

Burnout Central review: "The direction has some style. Director Jean Pellerin gives us some cool shots and keeps the atmosphere bleak. The Clown At Midnight is a decent slasher with enough entertainment value to keep your eyes on the screen. Sure its dumb fun, but you can do a whole hell of a worse when it comes to slash."

W.L. Paynecraft, Horrorwatch: "The premise was fairly wacky, and the acting wasn’t half bad. Christopher Plummer was magnificent. Margot Kidder was good. The kills were decent. I believe the jock’s cruel girlfriend flashed a breast or two."

Popcorn Pictures review: "Compared to some of the more recent slasher efforts, The Clown at Midnight is quite a breath of fresh air in places. Christopher Plummer and Margot Kidder add a bit of experience to beef up the film. Plummer is excellent as always and from the moment you see him, you know something is up. There are red herrings throughout, and it does try to throw you off the scent of who the true killer is, especially during the ending, which throws as many red herrings and twists as possible. There isn't much gore, with the exception of a few bodies lying here and there. Then there is the obligatory sex scene in which some broad gets screwed up against a concrete post from behind. There are a few scares here and there, and the death scenes are well done.

Final Verdict: The Clown at Midnight is good viewing for slasher fans, and it is remarkable in the genre. It's got the feel of an Americanised giallo, which isn't a bad thing."

Opposable Thumb Film Reviews: "A hot teen ensemble cast! Thrills and chills! A cutting-edge alternative soundtrack!

"The plot, after a promising beginning, becomes typical slasher fare. Teens separate from the group, teens get knocked off, teens fornicate, teens get knocked off."

Viewers' Ratings:
The Internet Movie Database asked 367 users to rate The Clown at Midnight (as of April, 12, 2007), and ratings varied widely. Although females liked the movie more than males did, the group that rated it highest was males under age 18 (who gave it a 7.2 out of 10). The group rating it next-highest was females under age 18 (5.9).

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Jean Pellerin (Daybreak, four Skid Row films, Under Pressure, For Hire, Laserhawk).

Written by Kenneth J. Hall (Puppet Master, Evil Spawn, Dr. Alien, Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout, Test Tube Teens From the Year 2000).

Stars Christopher Plummer (Twelve Monkeys, National Treasure, The Sound of Music, Syriana, The Man Who Would Be King; eight awards and 19 nominations for works including The Insider, The Thorn Birds, Hamlet, Harrison Bergeron, Ararat, American Tragedy, Murder by Decree, Nicholas Nickleby and A Beautiful Mind; 83 other films and TV projects); Margot Kidder (Maverick, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, The Great Waldo Pepper, Black Christmas, Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx; four awards and two other nominations for works including Superman, Superman II, The Amityville Horror and Heartaches); Tatyana Ali (Kiss the Girls, Crocodile Dundee II, Brother, Jawbreaker, The Glory Road, Back in the Day; three awards and five noms for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air); Sarah Lassez (Nowhere, Malicious, The Foot Shooting Party; won three awards for Mad Cowgirl and The Blackout) and James Duval (Donnie Darko, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Go, SLC Punk, Frog-g-g!; three awards and a nomination for The Doe Boy, The Weekend and Independence Day).

Cast includes Melissa Galianos (Satan's School for Girls, Fatal Affair, Laserhawk); J.P. Grimard (debut); Ryan James Bittle (Devil in the Flesh, Sweet Valley High, Who's Your Daddy?); Liz Crawford (Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Three's Company"); Vicki Marentette (Christmas Rush); Jonathan Barrett (Capote, Falcon Beach, Escape From Mars); John Bluethner (Fear X, A Season on the Brink, Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay) and Pauline Broderick (A Marriage of Convenience, Bordertown Cafe).

Executive producers: Jeff Geoffray (Around the World in 80 Days, Shergar, Silver Wolf, Behind the Red Door and 23 other films and TV projects) and Walter Josten (Around the World in 80 Days, Behind the Red Door; The Call of the Wild; Emmy for The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie and 29 more films and TV projects).

Producers: Gary Howsam (Silver Wolf, Queen's Messenger, High Explosive and 55 other films and TV projects) and Gilles Paquin (Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, Cord).

Cinematography by Barry Gravelle (Bleeders, The Lost World, Rats, For Hire, Witchboard III: The Possession, Deadly Sins).

Film Editing by Bob Lower (Edge of Madness, Lost in the Barrens; two Directors Guild of Canada Best Film Editing nominations for Seven Times Lucky).

Art Direction by Réjean Labrie (Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, Cord, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, Desire, The Heart of the World).

Costume Design by Wanda Farian (Seven Times Lucky, Inertia, Zeyda and the Hitman).

Special Effects Supervisor: Kenneth J. Hall (Ghoulies, Carnosaur, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, Lurking Fear, Spellcaster, Biohazard and Kraa The Sea Monster).

Memorable quote:
"I felt like a bimbo in a slasher movie screaming like that."

Release Data:
It made its US and Argentine video premieres in 1999, debuting on video in Spain in 2000, on DVD in Germany in 2003 and on video in Italy in 2004.

Title in Brazil: "O Palhaço Assassino"

Internet Movie Database entry for The Clown at Midnight

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