Before reviewing the film, I guess I feel obligated to touch on the topic that usually comes up with any movie involving Victor Salva. For those not in the know, he groomed and molested the youngest of the three child actors in this movie. Some people will refuse to watch this film or any film with his name attached to it because of that and some people are able to separate the movie from the man. Whatever you choose to do is okay, I get it for both sides. For the sake of reviewing the film itself, I will review it as if a no-name directed it.
I originally watched this film in the 90's, way before I ever heard anything about Salva's history. Since Tim Curry's Pennywise from Stephen King's IT had such a lasting effect on me as a child, I gained an affinity for horror movies featuring clowns. My thoughts on the movie now are still more or less the same as when I watched it for the first time.
Clownhouse plays out like a slasher flick but has very little violence and almost no blood in it. Yet it somehow manages to keep your attention. The performances by the child actors is about what you'd expect from a low budget movie with very little acting experience. But because they're kids, it's easy enough to dismiss and give them a pass. There are three mental patients on the loose here, all dressed as clowns. The main one, Cheezo, is the only one with some sort of charisma as he has the most on-screen interaction. The other two are just kind of bumbling around, going through the motions.
Because the movie is entertaining enough without having to use much violence, I feel compelled to commend it for doing so. At the same time, the acting isn't very good and there isn't much substance to the plot. All in all, it is just some kids being chased by some mental patients in clown suits. Nothing more, nothing less. But since I'm into clown horror, it gets a little extra bump from me.