A Clown’s Recovery tells a great story, completely true, no embellishments, of the legendary and a friendly clown, name Jelly Boy known as Eric Broomfield through the lens of his brother and filmmaker Matthew Broomfield in this award-winning documentary. Matt made a horror film known as Freakshow Apocalypse: The Unholy Sideshow, which graced the stage and screen at The Terror Film Festival, with freakish mannerisms possible in 2007. Jelly Boy performed at the festival displaying his talents for juggling of knives and sword swallowing and gave another intimate performance using nails hammered into his skull. It was at this event I had the pleasure of meeting him personally, and thoroughly enjoyed his time, personality and never once did he come across as elitist, rather expressing passion for films and performance enjoyment. Therefore, learning about his struggle with his injury came to me as a shock, for that time and situations caused me to lose touch with this great talent, and leaves one after viewing this film with great resolve for our society, the communities that pull together and the human free spirit that strives to survive and deny the naysayers. The film released through Chemical Burn Entertainment, usually noted for very low-budgeted horror films, and their counterpart Reality Entertainment handles the documentaries, however, this time, Chemical leads the charge with a quality production complete with a thoroughly entertaining story.
Jelly Boy tragically starts on July 2, a Saturday morning, having performed the night before, for the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow, and staying at a friend’s apartment, all seemed fine, however a new unwanted and perhaps a reckless action not of Jelly Boy’s doing, began a new horror show. That culprit and a cigarette butt a burning ember that caused chaos which consumed without any care, feeding the need to survive. Jelly’s rescue came from a brave team of firefighter, who breached the apartment, and searched for him, finding him curled into a fetal position in a bathtub, the blaze burning around him. The next day Eric lay in the hospital and uninformed friends and family remained in the dark of the incident, when he missed a gig of performing at Coney Girlie Freakshow putting on a memorial show for the late JT of Cha Cha’s bar. Most figured he was in jail for some sort of crazy antics, yet the true fate was far greater than anyone realized. The injuries resulted in 15% of his body burned (head, neck, parts of his upper back and chest, and arms, and the hospital placed him in an induced coma, loaded him into drug sedated state of hallucinations, and constantly cough up and draining out soot from his lungs. His brother, Matt, made sure someone, a friend or family was in the room for Eric, just to reassure him, to calm the fears.
One must understand, the performance of what Jelly Boy did is not a silly clown, from Ringling Brothers, no oversized shoes, goofy makeup, or animal balloons, he does acts such as sword swallowing, fire breathing and flesh hook Suspensions. His circus has performers with the colorful names as Matterz Squidling, Je Lunchbox, Mackenzie Moltov among others, they strictly enforced and educate that they are not about exploiting human deformities that dotted the landscape in the 1920s and 1930s, and that films like Freaks  and even the Elephant Man. These clowns enjoy freakish acts, bed of nails, broken glass walking, and ‘human pin cushion’ which delights, shocks and overwhelming marvels audiences at many locations including Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
The hospital refused all requests to help in the documentary, no doctors or nurses spoke on camera, and in fact, the “hospital” gave no financial assistance to Eric, for at the time of accident, he was an out-of-state resident and therefore null and void of that special treatment. The documentary shows the poor treatment from those in highly touted and honorable profession called medical treatment, Eric endured on going debt, and $6,000 per day, and no means to pay the amount. His friends, family and fans knew the news would lead to more depression began the process of a documentary and used it to raise awareness and financial support. The first was set up by Nassau Chainsaw DDC and set up a Support Jelly Boy the Clown, and from the support grew nationwide and then worldwide.
Over a month at the hospital – five weeks in the ICU, Eric, signed himself out against medical advice, for as a free spirit, he knew the drugs and the rising costs were more of a determent to his existence and recovery. Therefore, for a period of cold turkey withdrawal from numerous drugs including Haloperidol and rehab at home with help from his mother, Jelly Boy regained his strength and lost excessive body weight, and performed worldwide with fire routines, sword swallow and suspension flesh gimmicks.
The entire film truly shows, homage to a magnificent sideshow performer, with wonderful style for connecting to the audience, bringing a very touching story to the surface of a struggling inquire brother, and the battle of survival all within an unusual oft overlooked sideshow community.
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.0/10