Clowns are supposed to be entertainers, right? The point of dressing up and wearing goofy makeup is to make people laugh while at a party or some sort of celebratory event that requires a good performer. Instead, clowns seem to have become somewhat of a horror image for Halloween. Clowns have a long history, but most of us seem to know them now as a way to terrorize our friends and haunt our dreams. Why did a once seemingly friendly figure become such nightmare fuel?
Most of the blame for turning clowns into a spooky image can be blamed on the media. But aside from just media perspective, clowns can just be scary all on their own, even when they aren’t trying. There also seems to be a big lack of positive clown portrayal in the media, as most of what we see of clowns are pretty terrifying. If you want to make a popular scary movie or show nowadays, it seems putting a clown in it is a surefire key to success.
Everyone knows someone in their lives or at least have met one person before who is terrified of clowns. Maybe that person is you? Regardless of whether or not you’re afraid of clowns, you might be after reading this post. If you still aren’t scared, there’s probably someone you can share this post with or tag them to turn their afternoon into a fright fest. If you’re brave enough, here are 15 terrifying images of clowns you wish you hadn’t seen!
15. Clowns Have Been Around For A Long Time
Clowns have a seemingly long history, and there is no exact date of when the first clown appeared. Of course, the clown originated in the jester, a comedic person used to entertain the king. From the jester, many different characters and entertainers evolved and one of the evolutionary results was that of a clown.
The first recorded use of the word clown came in the mid-1500’s. The origin of the word is actually mostly unknown, but it is believed it derived from various forms of the word “clumsy.” Compared to today’s clown, however, clumsy might be a useless description. For anyone who fears these colorful characters, they’re anything but clumsy, and more so seem to be skilled murderers trained in terrorizing.
Regardless of the origins, society has a way of turning normal things into something much more disturbing, so it is no surprise that has happened to one figure that originated as a harmless comedic performer.
14. Coulrophobia Is The Fear Of Clowns
Coulrophobia is a very real fear and is the fear of clowns. Although most people would say that these images are pretty terrifying to anyone who isn’t diagnosed with the fear, a portion of our society does struggle with a very real fear of clowns.
It also stems from just beyond the regular Photoshopped or made-up costume of a terrifying clown. People who suffer from Coulrophobia have a very real fear of all clowns, even the most harmless and gentle entertainers who have no intention of scaring anyone. There isn’t really much history on the subject, and it isn’t even well known where the origin of the fear existed.
Many blame the media and rise of the portrayal of evil clowns in movies and TV shows as a possible reason people developed the fear. The morphing of the body parts and distortion of the face has monstrous qualities as well, that are known to be a fear for many people.
13. Did It Start The Fear?
It is a novel by Stephen King that came out in the mid-80s. The book was eventually made into a movie and still provides plenty of fear to people to this day. The movie is blamed as being one of the first major depictions in our popular culture of an evil clown.
When thinking of the evil clown archetype, It is one that people often remember the most- if you’ve seen the movie, that is. As many people know, Stephen King is one of the most terrifying writers of our time, so it’s no surprise that this novel has lasted throughout our history and as one of the scariest movies from the ’90s.
The story is just that, though, one story, so it can’t be completely blamed for ruining the friendly and childish image we once had of clowns. More pieces throughout history have to be accounted for as well.
12. John Wayne Gacy Helped Create Fear, Too
Before It, there was John Wayne Gacy. John Wayne Gacy is known as one of the most evil serial killers of all time. He also happened to be a clown known to entertain children’s parties. Gacy used his clown status to lure customers into his home, where he would usually rape and murder them, though his victim of choice were young boys.
Gacy murdered countless of victims and is convicted for murdering at least 33. He did a lot of traveling as well, and has admitted to killing more people than the bodies that were found, so it is unknown and will always remain unknown just how many victims he actually took.
One common misconception is that Gacy murdered in his costume. He was never known to murder while he was acting as a clown and just clowned as a way to make his money. Though only his victims will truly know the length his clowning and murdering went to.
11. But The Fear Started Earlier
Fear of clowns was known to be around before even Gacy as well. It rose to prominence around the time the Joker was first making appearances as well. By now, we don’t really see The Joker as a clown- he’s prominent enough to be his own sort of character.
Even before that, anyone who dressed up like a clown was still feared by some at one point or another. Clowns wear exaggerated makeup, and distortion of facial features can spark common fears among some people. The image is somewhat related to a sort of monster figure, so clowns can be especially scary to children who aren’t able to comprehend that clowns are just innocent entertainers meant to show you tricks and make you laugh. That is, some clowns are meant to scare and entertain. The children of our future may never be able to see clowns as anything but horror icons.
10. Clowns Are More Often Seen As Scary
Clowns are rarely hired for birthday parties nowadays. Clowns were also commonly seen in circuses as well, another dying trend. Instead, people are hiring Disney character look-alikes and having their parties at popular restaurants instead of hiring clowns.
Non-evil clowns seen nowadays are most commonly seen at rodeos, though those are losing popularity as well due to their ties with animal cruelty. It seems that the more non-evil clowns die off, the more evil clowns rise to prominence. Most commonly now, evil clowns are seen at Halloween horror fests all across the country, and there are more evil clown masks at Halloween stores than there are regular clown costumes.
Clowns are seen in other forms, however. At one point, cynicism and sarcasm didn’t exist as much in the mainstream, so in order to entertain, people dressed up goofy and silly to make people laugh. Our society is moving more towards a more nihilistic form of comedy, so our modern clowns are our favorite stand-up comedians and comedy series showrunners.
9. Real Clowns Wish You Weren’t So Scared
Not all clowns are gone, however. Some people still have a real passion for entertaining each other through the use of clown tactics. And these clowns are really ticked off about all the horror depictions. The evil clown archetype is directly responsible for the massive decline in the ability for a clown to get a decent job.
However, many would argue that that’s not the only case for the decline in popularity of the typical clown. As previously mentioned, we’re moving more towards a nihilistic form of comedy. It’s not really that funny to the millennial generation to watch someone juggle bowling pins anymore. Watching people squirt water from a flower on their shirt just doesn’t make us laugh. Circuses are seen as cruel places known for abusing wild animals like elephants and lions. There really isn’t a place for us to be entertained by clowns anymore other than Halloween haunted houses.
8. American Horror Story Made People Upset
American Horror Story had a pretty scary depiction of a clown that is like our modern It. Twisty the clown debuted on screen as one of the most terrifying characters in the horror anthology series. And clown communities weren’t afraid to voice their opinion on the subject.
They made headlines when they came forward saying that they were offended by the image and did not support this depiction of clowns. Regardless, viewers loved the series and Twisty the clown is an image stuck in our heads. Even if you weren’t afraid of clowns before American Horror Story, you have to admit that Twisty the clown was pretty terrifying.
Although real clowns were utterly horrified at the depiction ruining their image, viewers everywhere will forever be horrified of that creepy mask on the American Horror Story clown, and especially of what image was hiding under his face piece.
7. There Are Many Clown Urban Legends
Along with the idea of horror, the image of clowns carries a plethora of urban legends. Clowns are growing alongside other horror figures like witches, ghosts, and Frankenstein, and seem to be a more and more popular subject for terror every day. Why are we so obsessed with the idea of a terrifying clown?
Part of it is that horror lies in mystery. Clowns are seen as mysterious beings. Much of their identity is hidden, and some clowns don’t even talk as part of their act. This builds the horror mystery, having many people wonder if there is even a person behind the mask at all, or if instead, clowns are just some sort of terrifying monsters.
With such a mysteriously terrifying creature, there are bound to be numerous urban legends on the subject. One of the most terrifying clown stories in existence is a rather popular one, read about it in the next entry.
6. The Babysitter Clown
One of the most terrifying urban legends that have taken a form in other scary stories is the story of the babysitter and the clown. It goes as follows:
One night, a young girl was hired to babysit the next door neighbor’s kids. The family and she had a pretty good relationship, so the job was rather casual. They told the girl that they’d be out pretty late that night, so once the kids went to sleep, she could watch TV in the living room. After she tucked the kids in for the night, she decided to make herself comfortable on the recliner. There was something that was preventing her from getting completely situated, though: the giant clown statue in the corner. The babysitter tried to ignore it for a little bit, but it just became too much. She called the parents and asked if she could either move it or put a blanket over it to cover up the scary face. The parents were terrified and told her to immediately get the children and leave as they did not own a clown statue. Once the police arrived, no such statue was found in the house.
5. Frederick Zozzaby Is A Clown Ghost That Terrorizes Children
Frederick Zozzaby was a clown from Czechoslovakia. He was a fairly well-known clown, but unfortunately, he committed suicide. Nowadays, he’s known for haunting the area, with reports of only children seeing his figure.
Two children recounted their story of the night they were visited by the ghost. They stated that at first they woke up in their room to the sound of devilish laughter. When they peered at the opening of their bedroom door, they found a figure dancing around like a clown. The clown was holding his chest and eerily pointing at the children. The children screamed for their parents and the figure disappeared. Other reports similar to this have arisen since the death of Frederick. He’s not known to harm the children, though he is known to leave behind a sticky, sweet scent, similar to formaldehyde. If you’re ever in the area, be wary of any ghostly clown figures you might see.
4. Not Everyone Thinks Clowns Are Scary
Although clowns are rather terrifying, not everyone finds horror behind the clown face. Many report that clowns are overly gruesome and such gory looking creatures that are so fake that they aren’t even scary.
The least terrified of clowns are probably those known as “Juggalos.” Juggalos are known for being followers of the Insane Clown Posse, also known as ICP. They are a popular band known for their wild performances and their propensity to wear clown makeup. Juggalos are also known to don similar makeup and wild hairstyles as well. Juggalos have been seen in popular shows such as It’s Always Sunny In Philidelphia as well as Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis’s show Baskets. Thought they portray a less scary side of clowns, Juggalos are still wildly criticized because of their type of music and lifestyle of alcohol, drugs, and shameless sex. Though not everyone is afraid of clowns, some would admit that they’re a little scared of Juggalos!
3. There Was A Clown Kidnapping Problem In The ’90s
Between the ’80s and ’90s, there were numerous reports around the country of men who would dress as clowns in an attempt to lure children into their vehicles. There was an especially high number of reports in the Massachusetts area, with many kids saying that they were approached on playgrounds by clowns who offered candy and balloons.
However, as the image of the evil clown rose, more and more children admitted to being terrified of the horror icon. More pedophiles and kidnappers caught on to this so now they go to other places to try and lure kids.
However, there was a report as recent as 2008 of a man in Chicago who attempted to lure children into his van using balloons. As if the clowns we see on TV aren’t scary enough, there are actual clowns out in the world who attempt to kidnap and terrorize our children.
2. Mysterious Night Clowns Are Trending
It seems people have caught on that mysterious clowns are pretty terrifying, as there has been a recent resurgence of mysterious night clowns roaming the streets after dark.
Though no reports of any attempted kidnaps or murders have been made by those who have seen the clowns, there’s no doubt that residents of these mysterious clown sighting cities are terrified. Most reports have been made on the west coast but there have been reports as far east in the country as Chicago.
It seems it was originally thought of by one man who just wanted to terrify his neighbors, but now people have caught on that the trend has gone viral, and others are copying the mysterious behavior. Reports of these clowns have been seen by people who snap photos while driving, and eerily enough, some night cams also have been able to capture the terrifying sight. So now you know that not only do you get to see terrifying clowns on TV, but they might also be lurking in your city at night!
1. Clowns Are Here To Stay
Clowns have been in our history for ages, and as previously mentioned, there is really no first account of when a clown might have existed. Originally, clowns were just derived from the jester, a figure meant to entertain nobles. Clowns developed into party entertainers, but seem to be dying out in our modern times. Clowns are most commonly seen nowadays as terrifying beings, and our modern “clowns” are stand up comedians and entertainers on screen.
Although the party clown is dying, it seems as though the image of the horror clown is only growing. More and more sightings of mysterious terrifying clowns emerge online constantly, and it seems as though people are always developing new movies and TV shows revolving around the idea of terrifying clowns. If you weren’t already scared of clowns, are you by now? And if you are constantly scared of the makeup creatures, you better get used to it, because scary images like these are here to stay.