Clowns have such a bad rap. It’s funny how they started out in culture as harbingers of joy because these days, they’re connected more with hiding in dark corners and waiting to kill than with making balloon animals. The horror genre is notorious for exploiting how freakish they can be. It’s up to us to call out five perpetrators of this crime.
5 Excellent Evil Clowns
PENNYWISE from Stephen King’s It
Tim Curry is nearly unrecognizable as the subject of so many children’s nightmares, including mine. He’s a shapeshifter, adapted from the shapeshifting creature from King’s delirious novel, but mostly he’s a clown in a white jumpsuit and razor fangs that bleed. His eyes may be the scariest part – when he’s at his peak of fury, they glow a deathly blue, weirdly magnetic, which makes them all the more terrifying. He stalks a group of small-town kids, and then, even worse, continues stalking as they become adults. BEST MOMENT: Stretching his arm out of a photo album…
TOY CLOWN from Poltergeist
The clown here is such a supporting “character,” he’s almost difficult to include – but he truly makes an impression. He’s up there with the sliding kitchen chair and the horribly menacing hurricane trees outside the little boy’s window; all parts compose the pseudo-ridiculous Spielberg ‘80s classic. The closet full of violent sucking wind that consumes poor Carol Anne, is nothing in comparison to the toy that comes alive from under the bed. BEST MOMENT: …Under the bed.
KILLJOY from Killjoy
Here’s one you’ve never heard of, unless you scanned the outrageous box cover in Blockbuster one day – like me, and then rented it. When I was twelve. A couple of friends and I got it out of morbid curiosity and watched in one afternoon: it’s an “urban horror,” a sadly condescending sub-genre name for a horror movie tailored for African-American audiences, in which a tiny clown doll comes to life and stalks those around him for no apparent reason. But he is scary as hell – what the movie lacks in everything else, it makes up for in this creature’s make-up. Director of Killjoy, wherever you are, you’re being praised right here. BEST MOMENT: All.
ZEEBO from Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The children’s horror anthology from 1991 made an unforgettable mark on its tiny viewers for creativity and imagination. Nothing compares to Zeebo, the ever-chuckling gangster in clown’s clothing, a myth invented in the very first episode ever of this classic series. The myth, of course, is reality, and the clown brings torment to a very unfortunate victim. He breaks into the boy’s home, screws with his microwave, leaves dark messages on the walls… BEST MOMENT: Leaving smokey cigar butts in his trail. This is a children’s show.
KILLER KLOWNS from Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Now these are just bizarre. This campy late-‘80s sci-fi midnight movie boasts creature make-up that’s not exactly scary as it is ugly. The most memorable part of this movie, where the alien Klowns hi-jack ice cream trucks and kill people with cotton candy missiles, is the grotesque faces of the villains. They giggle and shake and destroy you with sugary goodness. You’ll have a good time, but you’ll have no idea what the hell you’re watching. BEST MOMENT: The Klowns lure our protagonists into a demonized funhouse tent for the finale.
When he’s not reviewing movies, Ross is writing about Halloween costumes.