A multi-generational tale of gun-toting, murderous clowns may not be everyone’s bag of candyfloss, but The Last Circus looks so spectacularly insane l will have to go and see it at this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival.

Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia (El Crimen Perfecto, 800 Bullets and The Day of the Beast) is known for his dark off-beat comedy-thrillers, but this film looks like it’s a step beyond and there’ll be little clowning around this time. If the red band trailer below is any indication, we are in for one heck of a wild ride.

Despite all the crazy goings on, the film looks absolutely stunning and has some incredible imagery. No, I’m not talking about the clown firing upon the cafe-goers with his dual machine guns (although, having said that…). Both Javier ‘The Sad Clown’ (Carlos Areces) and Sergio ‘The Happy Clown’ (Antonio de la Torre) look to have real screen presence and I can imagine getting completely caught up in their feud over the stunning Natalia (Carolina Bang).

The Last Circus should be a very entertaining watch, and it’s one of my picks to be a ‘cult hit’ at the festival.

Here’s the red band trailer:

Could they even make a green band trailer for this film? Perhaps it would just be the title and credits for 2 minutes.

And here’s Magnolia Pictures’ gloriously detailed official plot synopsis: (warning: it may contain spoilers)

1937, Spain is in the midst of the brutal Spanish Civil War. A “Happy” circus clown is interrupted mid-performance and forcibly recruited by a militia. Still in his costume, he is handed a machete and led into battle against National soldiers, where he single handedly massacres an entire platoon. This absurd and disturbing scenario raises the curtain on a twisted tale of love, revenge, and psychopathic clowns that could only spring from the mind of filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia.

Fast forward to 1973, the tail end of the Franco regime. Javier, the son of the clown, dreams of following in his father’s career footsteps, but has seen too much tragedy in his life – he’s simply not funny and is only equipped to play the role of the ‘Sad’ Clown. He finds work in a circus where he befriends an outlandish cast of characters, but as the Sad Clown he must take the abuse of the brutish Happy Clown Sergio, who humiliates Javier daily in the name of entertainment.

It is here that he meets Natalia, a gorgeous acrobat, and abused wife of Sergio. Javier falls deeply in love with Natalia and tries to rescue her from her cruel and violent husband, unleashing Sergio’s jealousy. But Natalia is torn between her affection towards Javier and her lust for Sergio. With neither man willing to back down, this twisted love triangle evolves into a ferocious battle between Sad Clown and Happy Clown, escalating to unbelievable heights in this absurd, shocking, irreverent and unforgettable film.

Directed by Alex de la Iglesia, The Last Circus stars Carlos Areces, Antonio de la Torre (Volva and Che: Part 2), Carolina Bang, Santiago Segura (Hell Boy 2), Sancho Garcia, Manuel Tallaf, Fernando Guillen Cuervo (Quantum of Solace), Raul Arevalo, and Enrique Villen. The film won both the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

Head over to www.nzff.co.nz to see when The Last Circus will screen at a festival centre near you. The film is getting a limited theatrical release in the States on 12 August, but no theatrical release date for New Zealand has been announced.

So what did you think of the trailer? Will you be going to see The Last Circus at the festival? Or would you rather be trapped down a drain with the clown from Stephen King’s IT?