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Definitely deranged and occasionally borderline incoherent, Oliver Robins’ comedic horror feature runs the risk of completely debasing the killer-clown cliche for avowed genre fans and casual viewers alike, doubtlessly relegating Celebrity Crush to oblivion or at best some bottom-drawer streaming service.
Former child actor Jonathan Blakely (Robins, who appeared in 1982’s Poltergeist) hasn’t worked a day as a performer since starring in the 1985 cult horror film Chain Face Clown as the young target of a murderous mime. Instead, he’s dedicated most of his time to a screenwriting career that hasn’t come to much, so he jumps at the chance to go on the road for a series of celebrity appearances timed to the DVD release of Chain Face Clown. Arriving in St. Petersburg, Florida, with Peter (Eddie Craig), who plays the crazed clown in the movie, Jonathan feels a bit intimidated by his co-star’s slumming celebrity, which attracts no end of unsavory types.
Instead, he’s drawn to Emily (Alissa Schneider), an attractive woman he meets at his hotel who claims to be completely unfamiliar with the Chain Face Clown phenomenon. Secretly though, she’s an obsessed super-fan who’s followed Jonathan’s career since childhood and now sets about relentlessly stalking him. Once she seduces him and gets Jonathan back to her remote ranch home after drugging and kidnapping Peter, she imprisons her longtime crush in her garage, determined to hold both stars captive as long as it takes for Jonathan to finally fall in love with her.
The barely controlled mayhem that ensues might best be described as extremely random, with murder, torture and cannibalism all featuring prominently, not to mention forced VHS screenings of Chain Face Clown and table reads from the script. This principal plot, which also includes Emily attempting to persuade Jonathan that she’s his ideal soulmate after she’s imprisoned him, gets intercut with footage from the fictional Chain Face feature. These scenes, which primarily showcase Peter in clown makeup wielding an ineffective-looking hatchet as he searches a derelict neighborhood for young Jonathan, may be the most entertaining of the entire movie, styled to look like a Z-grade, retro-’80s feature.
Celebrity Crush’s production values are only a notch or two more refined, though, characterized by routine camera work, bare-bones lighting and rudimentary editing. Groaningly exaggerated performances dominate the hopelessly repetitive plot, which has the feel of a single act stretched to three. Although the movie’s broadly satirical tone isn’t lost on audiences, rather than amusingly spoofing a cherished period of low-budget horror releases, Robins’ film ends up as an exercise in self-ridicule that’s often squirmingly awkward to watch.
Production companies: One B Productions, Kyyba Films
Cast: Oliver Robins, Alissa Schneider, Melissa McNerney, Jonathan Daniel Lee, Wade Williams, Eddie Craig
Director-writer: Oliver Robins
Producers: Oliver Robins, Michael Baumgarten
Executive producers: Tel Ganesan, G.B. Thimotheose
Directors of photography: Michael Baumgarten, Austin McCurry, Oliver Robins
Production designer: Nat Girsberger
Editor: Jeff Rubin
Music: Karim Elmahmoudi
Venue: Dances With Films
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