Art

Recommended for You: Farah Al Qasimi on Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Loreta Lamargese

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Stills from Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988).

Before we even press “play,” Killer Klowns from Outer Space flaunts its absurdity by way of its title alone. Released in 1988, the film is a punk mash-up of two popular 80s b-movie genres: the monster movie and sci-fi flick. Killer Klowns, predates the filmic Stephen King take on freaky clowns, It, that would arrive at the turn of the next decade. Farah Al Qasimi’s current show at Helena Anrather, Funhouse, now accessible online, is similarly a self-aware invitation into a playful, multi-faceted realm of distortion. Here, we enter the public and private spaces of the UAE and the US, populated with a lush array of goods—bootleg and synthetic, pricey and gaudy—that make up the folly of consumerism.

What is your favorite movie?
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988).

How do you apply the idea of “favorite” here?
It’s ridiculous, elusive and inexhaustible; greater than the sum of its parts. It’s got enough plotline to be interesting, but, at the same time, it’s the kind of movie you could leave on in the background for suspenseful atmospheric noise.

This movie really has it all: a spaceship, cotton candy cocoons filled with corpses, a ‘good’ cop, a bad cop, a romance subplot and, best of all, the soundtrack is heavy metal renditions of circus tunes.

How would you describe this movie to a close friend?
Completely unique and yet totally forgettable.

Where were you when you first watched it and how did you feel?
In our living room in Abu Dhabi sometime in the early 2000s. I think my brother brought me the VHS tape when he came back from college. We had a rotating set of a couple of movies on VHS, most of which were ’80’s classics like E.T. or The Goonies. I was horrified, nauseated and elated.

If you were putting together a double feature, what movie would you play alongside this one and why?
The first Alien movie, but I’d play Killer Klowns second, for a comic relief palate-cleanser. I’d screen it at midnight and everyone would have to come dressed as either Ripley or a clown.

How, if at all, has the movie inspired you in art-making?
It’s fortified my love for slapstick humor and my dedication to making people laugh, even if occasionally for the wrong reasons.