When you think of the horror genre what comes to mind? You probably think of vampires lurking upon helpless women for their blood, or maybe a man tearing at his own flesh while he transforms into a werewolf, but just maybe you imagined a figure hidden behind caked on makeup and an unflinching smile. Clowns have been a staple of modern horror since the popularization of Stephen King’s IT in 1986 and have continued to ravage the minds of coulrophobes everywhere. To celebrate the upcoming IT remake, we’re listing off the creepiest clowns in cinema. Pennywise will not be included in this list, instead, we are focusing on the other monsters he’s influenced.
5. Pogo the Clown, Gacy (2003)
Based on the true crime story of the infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, how could we not include him? Though not influenced by IT, this biographical film recounts Gacy, who was a business man, Father, and part time clown known as ‘Pogo‘. He would dress as Pogo at children’s events like birthday parties or festivals; unknown to the public though, Gacy would use this as an opportunity to lure in teenage boys. The boys were taken to his home where they were tortured, then later buried between the crawlspace. This killer clown took the lives of over thirty teenage boys in his serial killing career and that alone makes this one of the most unsettling clowns on our list.
4. Twisty, American Horror Story: Freakshow (2014-2015, 2017)
Inspired by John Wayne Gacy himself, this terrifying image of a clown will keep you up at night. Twisty was a circus clown in a freak show but when some of the other performers relentlessly bullied Twisty and accused him of being a child predator, he decided to take his life. His attempted suicide didn’t go as planned and after taking a shotgun to the cheek it left him to hide behind a porcelain smile. Twisty although murderous and misguided had a good heart, too bad he liked stabbing the hearts of other good people.
3. Doom Head, 31 (2016)
Rob Zombie’s Captain Spaulding was going to make it here but we wanted to give some notoriety to another nightmare inducing character; Doom Head. In 31, Carnival workers must survive a night amongst the deadliest and most horrendous clowns imaginable. Our final girl is met by Doom Head with switch blades and a bloodied smile. If you don’t believe us, believe his creator, “Doom Head does not f*ck around. This guy is one f*cking intense dude”.
2. Art the Clown, All Hallows Eve (2013)
If you were asked to describe Art the Clown, you’d probably say Pennywise made love to a mime and Art is what popped out. Okay maybe not, but regardless- Art made our list for the originality of his character. Creator/Director Damien Leone created Art the Clown and featured him in a 2008 short, entitled The 9th Circle, and revisited the character in the 2011 short, Terrifier. The character of Art began with the idea of an un-filmed scene where a woman boards an empty bus on Halloween night, only for a clown to begin harassing her. A clown that doesn’t make a sound is way more intimidating than the stereotypical chuckle, especially when done right.
1. Frowny the Clown, Clown (2014)
Forget everything you know about evil clowns and tell me this isn’t the most terrifying idea for a horror film. A loving father dresses as a clown for his sons birthday party, unfortunately though his cursed costume won’t come off. So I guess that’s what they mean when they say dress for the job you want and not the one you have. Clown by Eli Roth is basically the most messed up version of Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask. We picked Frowny as number one for the intense body horror and the fun reinterpretation of what a monster movie can be.
Comment your favorite creepy clown below!