We’re not afraid to admit it; we’re terrified of clowns. There’s something inherently unsettling about the painted mask, the false smile, the leering grin, and the bloody knives they carry around with them. Wait, not all clowns carry murderous, blood-stained tools with them everywhere they go? Must be our overactive imagination at work. We can blame a childhood that coincided with Poltergeist the movie for our “condition,” but whatever the catalyst, you can’t deny that you agree with us. No one has capitalized on our fear like Hollywood. They’ve taken the whole horrible clown thing to unprecedented heights. Here are the ten most terrifying clowns ever to grace the screen.
10) Funny Man — Funny Man (1994)
We can’t decide on what the hell Funny Man is. He’s not really a clown, more of a monstrous demon jester-thing. His weirdness makes him pretty damn disturbing. So does his habit of tormenting and killing people in complicated ways because it amuses him. It’s bad enough to have to face a horrible clown monster, but the last thing you want is one that laughs at the misery of others. There’s a lot of camp and 1990s nostalgia in this movie, but that doesn’t stop Funny Man from freaking us the hell out. He’s just wrong on every level.
9) Killer Klowns — Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Maybe we’re cheating here – since this isn’t just a single clown but a whole troupe of them. We don’t care. The Killer Klowns are actually aliens brought to the big screen during the height of 1980s special effects – including a lot of make-up and animatronics. They are pretty creepy, and a bit stupid. They crack dumb jokes, but they also eat human beings by transforming them into food inside cotton candy cocoons. Yeah, that’s right, they came here to eat you – think about that. There’s some pretty nasty stuff that happens, especially involving the corpse of a police officer that might also increase your already justified hatred of ventriloquist dummies.
8) Captain Spaulding — House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Captain Spaulding is the tour guide to hell who lures unsuspecting victims to their eventual demise inside the home of that lovable Firefly family in House of 1000 Corpses. He’s more of an instigator than an actually killer in the first movie. In the The Devil’s Rejects Spaulding becomes a lot more terrifying as he attempts to elude the police in a quest to find his daughter. We hate to admit it, but we sort of end up rooting for this mad clown who is presumably the driving force behind all the incredibly horrific things that happen to tourists over the course of two movies.
7) Horny the Clown — Drive Thru (2007)
If we ever die and come back as vengeful spirits we promise to only seek vengeance on the people who actually wronged us – and not their children. In a rather “Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street kind of way,” the vengeful spirit in this movie comes back to kill the children of those who murdered him. In one of the most peculiar choices in cinema – he inhabits the clown mascot of a hell-themed fast food joint in order to exact his murderous justice. We admit, the mascot is both scary and comical all at once. He does a lot of bad stuff, and by that we mean he leaves a blood trail from one end of town to the other that will make Rambo a bit jealous. More importantly, Horny will make you think twice about ordering a value meal from any mascot ever again.
6) Gurdy the Clown — 100 Tears (2007)
Poor Gurdy. After being accused of crimes he didn’t commit (rape) this distraught circus clown does the only logical thing and decides to go on a murderous rampage (overreact much?) At first Gurdy is mostly concerned with killing those who accused him of the wrongdoing. It’s sort of like some Batman vigilante-style justice, only instead of the wrong-doers being brought to justice Gurdy just goes ahead and brutalizes them. Once he’s had a taste of murder Gurdy just can’t stop himself. We imagine it’s like eating a piece of pizza. Once you have one you’re going to eat the whole damn thing. And at this point what are a few dozen more deaths for a mentally unstable killer clown? Eventually a couple stupid journalists decide to track Gurdy down and become pawns in his creepy game of hide and seek – because, you know, they’re stupid journalists.
5) Emmett — Scary or Die (2012)
Emmett doesn’t get a ton of screen time. In fact, he’s only around for half the thirty-minute short called “Clowned” in a film full of horror-themed shorts. So why does he make the list? THE DUDE’s A FREAKING HUMAN-EATING MONSTER CLOWN – that’s why! Emmett, a low-life scumbag as best we can tell, gets bitten by a clown at his brother’s party (happens all the time) and slowly transforms into a terrifying and monstrous creature who decides that his brother would make a nice tasty afternoon snack. Maybe it’s not Emmett’s fault, but that doesn’t mean we’re not losing sleep over this. As if clowns weren’t scary enough, now we have to worry about being bitten by some drunken party clown and turning into a were-clown? No thanks – just put a bullet in us and be done with it.
4) Clown Killer — Amusement (2008)
We might not be able to talk rationally about this one. There are just so many things that are wrong here. Firstly, who on earth keeps a room full of clown paraphernalia? Does that seem normal to you? Secondly, if you show up to check in on your nephews (the sons of said crazy-lady with the clown room) and the baby-sitter is missing and there’s a life-sized clown doll in the “creepy clown room” you have two options; run like hell, or get a shotgun and blast the doll two or three times, then run like hell. You don’t casually watch the kids, and later when your aunt calls remark on the clown doll and then learn that she doesn’t have a life-sized clown doll and you’re probably going to die in a really bad way before you can hang up the phone. I mean, really? You don’t call someone when you realize the babysitter is missing and the kids don’t know where she went? And we ask again, who the hell has a clown room? Can someone answer this for us?
3) John Gacy — Gacy (2003)
Who put the real-life terror of clowns in us in the first place? John Wayne Gacy, that’s who. Gacy tormented, raped, and killed numerous people – many of them teenaged boys. He is known to have killed over 30 people and he’s one of America’s most feared serial killers. This poorly done film is a particularly disturbing account of several creepy murders. It focuses primarily on Gacy’s crimes and leaves his upbringing and development into a serial killer mostly alone. Gacy makes the list because one of his jobs was acting as a party clown at children’s parties. There might not be a more sinister real life person and there’s really no reason to watch this film unless you want to traumatize yourself or have a thing for serial killers. One thing’s for certain, you’ll never hire a party clown for your children after seeing this movie.
2) Clown Doll — Poltergeist (1982)
What’s more sinister than a killer clown? How about a killer clown doll! This doll is pretty much the scariest toy a child could have – and that’s before it becomes possessed. Why anyone would give a kid this long-armed freak of a doll is beyond us. Once this thing comes to life it pretty much terrorizes viewers into never owning a clown doll of any sort for the rest of their lives. Its super-scary facial expressions, hiding under the bed and attacking the kid, and just being a murderous clown doll pretty much ruined a lot of our childhoods permanently. If clown dolls were ever popular they certainly weren’t after Poltergeist hit the big screens. We hate to repeat ourselves, but who the hell buys a creepy clown doll for their child and leaves it in their room?
1) Pennywise — It (1990)
Tim Curry plus Creepy Clown equals “Holy Shit we’re running away from any clown we ever see again no matter what.” Maybe Stephen King wanted to ruin clowns for us once and for all, we don’t know, but Pennywise is just awful in every imaginable way. Since he only comes around every three decades or so Pennywise has to make the most of his time while in town. He feeds on the fear of children – which means he runs around and tries to scare kids all the time to grow bigger and stronger. He does this by doing things like ripping their arms off and leaving them for dead. He also springs unsuspectingly out of the shower! He shows up in places you’d least expect him to be, like you know photographs. Pennywise is largely terrifying because he isn’t out on a murderous rampage per say. He doesn’t even show up that much in the movie – but when he does he’s going to put you into therapy for the rest of your life. Good luck getting to sleep tonight.