Clownhouse – USA, 1989 – overview and reviews


clownhouse cover

Clownhouse is a 1989 American horror feature film written and directed by Victor Salva. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the dramatic category at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival. Clownhouse was the film debut of actor Sam Rockwell.


Just before Halloween, three young brothers alone in a big house are menaced by three escaped mental patients who have murdered some travelling circus clowns and taken their identities.


Salva was charged with the abuse of Nathan Forrest Winters, the lead actor who played Casey, during the making of this film. Salva served fifteen months of a three-year prison term and was released on parole. Winters had come forward in 1996 when Salva’s film Powder was released.

Salva became noticeable again in the film industry in 2001 with the release of his sleeper hit Jeepers Creepers, followed by its 2003 sequel Jeepers Creepers II. The third entry in the franchise, Jeepers Creepers 3, belatedly arrived in 2017.


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“Despite the dodgy history surrounding the film, it holds up well enough. If you are looking for something atmospheric to get you in a jumpy mood, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Clownhouse. Once your expectations are in check for gore and massive production value, you should have a good time with this. If you happen to be freakish about clowns… well, maybe best to stay away.” Rewind Your Damn Videotapes

“Am I recommending Clownhouse? In and of itself, divorced from the reality behind it, it’s a serviceable thriller with some truly odd touches (the boys’ mother and a fortune-teller they encounter at the carny both seem like chubby drag queens). Viewed in its real-life context, it becomes exponentially distasteful and squalid, moreso than any 42nd-street European zombie dreck that depicts the slaughter of actual animals.” EFilm Critics




Victor Salva
Director Victor Salva and clowns