“This Clown’s Not Funny”. You Can Say That Again: Stitches (2012)

“This Clown’s Not Funny”.  You Can Say That Again:





I’m very averse to slagging off any film because of my basic stance that nobody sets out to make a bad one.  But Christ on a stick, it is damned nearly impossible to say anything good about this Irish movie, Stitches, written and directed by Conor McMahon.  For want of a better word (like, maybe, ‘abomination’) I’ll call it a splatter-comedy.  The only thing wrong with that description, however, is that it’s not even remotely funny.  It’s not scary either…well, maybe if you’re one of those weird people who freaks out over clowns.

Just to quickly sum up the witless plot:  Ross Noble plays a sleazebag called Richard Grindle, an entertainer playing the clown circuit at children’s parties under the name of Stitches; and doing it in a half-assed way since he’d obviously prefer to be at home screwing his skank of a partner whilst wearing full clown make-up.  He manages to drag himself away from her long enough to be late for the tenth birthday party of Tom (Tommy Knight), a rich kid with the brattiest collection of friends that you ever laid eyes on.  Although on second thoughts, if you live in Ireland you will recognise them as being the same little shits that are dragged out by their swinish parents of a Sunday in order to ruin the afternoon for normal people who are trying to have a drink or a bite to eat.  And by normal people I mean those sensible enough to have spent their lives in a brat-free environment.

The clown isn’t funny, the children are horrible and ‘tragedy’ occurs when Stitches lands face down on a kitchen knife that Tom’s brain dead mother has left blade up in the wash rack.

When Tom goes to visit the grave of the dead man he witnesses a bizarre clown ritual (quite good actually, this bit) and one of them tells him in a spooky voice:

“A clown who doesn’t finish a party can never rest in peace; and the joke is never funnier the second time around.”

Ah yes, words to conjure with; but since this joke has been lame from the start it’s a moot point.  In any case cut to six years later where Tom is having a party for his friends once more but this time of the more adult variety.  In true dead clown fashion Stitches picks this night to return on a rampage of vengeance and you can guess the rest.

If you like blood there is gallons of it, although be warned that it’s of the now dated-looking eighties gorefest variety but completely without the charm of, say, The Evil Dead or Re-animator. The humorous scenes are totally laugh-free unless you like them of the repulsive kind.  You know, close up of a kid squeezing a spot and cut to an egg landing in a frying pan.  Yeah, that kind of thing.  I laughed until I stopped.  And if you stick around long enough for the outtakes at the end you’ll see why the cast and crew all thought this was amusing.

What is this ‘fear of clowns’ business anyway?  Is it a real phobia or just some sort of made-up one? I mean, I remember being taken to the circus a few times when I was a kid and I always thought the whole clown bit was kind of stupid, really.  You know, grown man in weird suit rides around on a tricycle meant for a three-year-old.  What the fuck is that about?  I’m sorry because I know that I’m maligning a great tradition or something but I just don’t get it.  I do admire rodeo clowns, though.  Now that looks bloody dangerous so I’ll give them the utmost respect.


stitches_conor_mcmahon_01Not Scary.


As to clowns being scary…I don’t know, are they?  Pennywise in Stephen King’s It was pretty creepy, what with his whole ‘We all float down here’ spiel.  And if you want to talk about really repulsive characters who wander around in make-up look at that guy in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects.  Now he was bad! And those teeth! Come to think of it I remember an episode of his comedy show where Kelsey Grammer was pretty bloody out there as Dr.  Frasier Crane, dressed up as a clown.

That’s it, I’ve thought about Stitches more than it deserves but I said at the beginning of this that I always try to find something to like.  The graveyard setting was good, there were some nice night-time shots and the closing credits played—blast from the past for me—the great Dublin band ‘An Emotional Fish’.  Here they are with ‘Celebrate’.




Author: Charley Brady

Share This Post On


  1. A little harsh on this one I think Charley, this movie never intended to take itself serious for one second.
    I thought Noble was pretty good in his first acting role, the one liners while silly were often funny because of Nobles delivery, yes we get the usual tedious teeth pulling sex organ jokes, seems no director these days can make a comedy without jokes about cock, vagina, tits and sperm?.

    Overall a fun ride with surprisingly decent special effects.

  2. Well, I did want to like it Patrick if only because it was Irish; but sorry, didn’t ring my bell at all. As for Noble…jeez, that whiny smart-alek accent of his was like nails down a chalkboard to me.

    Chalkboard? Was that a bit of unintentional Political Correctness sneaking in there? Is that stuff catching?

  3. When I heard it was Irish was nearly enough to convince me not to bother watching it all, most Irish movies are usually chronic, terribly acted, infested with the “F” word, which normally means it will be vastly overrated by the Irish critics, because its Irish and it stars Brendan Gleeson so it must be good yeah?.

    Not saying the acting in “Stitches” was oscar material by any stretch but a lot better than expected when you consider virtually the whole cast seemed to be plucked off the street.
    Do you remember the standard of the acting in those 80’s slasher movies? which this film pays homage while having some fun at the same time, say cheese!.

  4. Oh man, that first paragraph has me laughing so much. I do know what you mean, Patrick, I really do; and sometimes I have tried to like a film just because it’s Irish. What can I say? I have a soft spot for anyone who can get any kind of low budget movie out. That’s why I’m usually harsher about big budget shit that displays no imagination whatsoever.

    But on your ‘chronic’ Irish movie spiel–I’m sorry, I’m still laughing because it’s true–are you old enough to remember an eighties movie called “The Courier”? It was one of the first real features that I recall being done from here at that time and we all tried to convince ourselves it was good. But it was awful, just awful. About all that I can remember about it is that Gabriel Byrne was in it for about twenty minutes. Now personally I like Byrne, always have done; but I do know that just the mention of the man’s name is enough to wreck some peoples’ heads. I don’t know what it is, he is just like a red rag to a bull for some folk. What can I say? I like him. But seriously, “The Courier” was…bad.

    I have a huge affection for eighties splatter movies (although my real love will always be the thirties black-and-white horrors) and you’ve just reminded me that I’ve wanted to put up some stuff on the great Stuart Gordon (“Re-animator, “From Beyond”) for a while now. Quite honestly I thought that the standard of acting in them was just fine. Sure, hammy at times but at other times played straight in a way that really gave them charm. Apart from anything else I suppose if I revisit those two movies it’ll give me an excuse to look at the gorgious eighties scream queen Barbra Crampton in bondage gear again. (Excuse? We don’t need no steenking excuse to look at Babs in bondage gear, you damned gringo!)

    Anyway, I’m happy that “Stitches” has at least one admirer. But you didn’t address Noble’s voice, my friend. You didn’t address that voice. You KNOW that there can be no excuses for that!

  5. Considering I can’t stand the sound or the sight of that Russell Brand I probably should have been irritated by Noble’s voice but srangely enough it never really bothered me.
    That new version of “Arthur” starring Brand as Arthur could be used as a torture tool in Guantanamo Bay, after just 15 minutes of this torture the prisoner would tell you the whereabouts of several Al Qaeda leaders.

    I vaguely remember “the Courier”, with Byrne starring it was almost certainly instantly forgettable.
    Probably the worst casting decision of the Coen brothers career was getting Gabrial Byrne to play leading man Tom Reagen in Millers Crossing?, an otherwise excellent film almost ruined by that hammy performance of Byrne, as for that awful attempt at an East coast big city American accent?, it makes me cringe every time I hear it, I almost feel embarrassed for the guy and after all these years no matter what role he plays he still sounds like somebody just dragged him off Moore street, having said that Lian Neeson still hasn’t shed his northern twang but at least in Liam’s defence he can actually act.

  6. It’s a beautiful morning here in Oranmore and I’ve just had a fabulous walk up to Renvylle and the bay. Here I am in one of those moods for losing a half stone in one day (they usually last until noon) and in good form when you hit me with the dreaded Russell Brand! Was there ever a bigger dickhead walking the earth? I’ve no idea how bad “Arthur” is because he’s in it. Isn’t his five minutes of fame up by the way?

    You have me laughing again with the comments on Byrne. Why does he have this effect on some people? I thought he was great in “Miller’s Crossing”. In fact I was disgusted that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination. It was deserved! He was robbed, I tell yez!!Look into your heart, Patrick. Look into your heart!

    OK, I’m winding you up now but I’ll try throwing one at you: “Defence of the Realm”. Surely you liked that?

  7. Clowns, I hate them, always have since I was a wee one but after our Chicago Clown mass murderer John Wayne Gasy, AKA the Killer Clown, a children’s party clown who murdered over 32 young men and buried them in his home’s basement, I never want to see a clown up close or personally. At least Illinois did something right for a change and executed him in 1994. Gacy became known as the “Killer Clown” due to his charitable services at fundraising events, parades and children’s parties where he would dress as “Pogo the Clown”, a character he devised himself. So, I guess we could say he was a clown with a heart doing all that charity work and all, the question was who’s heart he was holding in his hands. I’ll skip this movie thank you.

  8. Speaking of John Wayne Gacy, do any of you remember the tv movie “To Catch a Killer” starring Brian Dennehy?, if my memory serves it was shown in two parts?. Brian Dennehys performance as Gacy was simply chilling, the hairs still stand up on the back of my neck when I think about it.
    If you havent seen it well worth checking out.

  9. I had meant to answer this a few hours ago but a sudden crisis hit Brady Towers as I discovered that the cellar was not only low on Moet & Chandon but was completely denuded of Dutch Gold!

    All is now well.

    I had actually considered mentioning both John Wayne Gacy and Brian Dennehy’s portrayal of him but decided not to as the review is essentially comedic; and God knows there was nothing funny about that evil bastard.

    Yes, Patrick. I remember the film quite well and I THINK Dennehy won some sort of award for it? Be that as it may, I found it extremely disturbing, not just for the events which were obviously horrific enough. But seeing solid, ex-marine, dependable Dennehy in the role, especially when he was in costume really added to the whole nightmarish quality of it. Yeah, chilling was the word.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.