The concept of the evil clown in movies is directly related to the irrational fear of clowns. This condition is known as coulrophobia.
A relatively new word (and newly-recognized phobia as well), coulrophobia is nonetheless a real and palpable fear for a lot of people. Clowns have become an archetype of evil. I guess it has something to do with the unstable psyche required to paint your face in ridiculous makeup and put on big, floppy shoes before heading out in public – such a person just can’t be playing with a full deck. Or maybe it’s just our aversion to people who disguise their true features. After all, that’s what makes Michael Myers so scary in Halloween, isn’t it? And obviously the creepiness factor of Jason is enhanced by his infamous hockey mask.
Anyway, with this third article in my own personal tribute to Halloween we continue looking at sub-genres in the horror industry. The first two articles looked at movies with Satan and movies with killer dolls. Now we’re moving on to evil clowns, but with this article I am eschewing the whole “weird or wonderful” question featured in the previous two articles. There’s no need for that question because – let’s face it – evil clowns are just downright weird. ALL of them are weird.
So here are 15 movies containing weird (not wonderful) evil clowns.
- Frankie – Carny (1980) – Gary Busey plays an obnoxious and rude clown performing in a dunk-the-bozo tank for a traveling carnival. He’s not evil, though.
- John Wayne Gacy – Gacy (2003) and other movies – This one is too scary because it’s real. I want this list to be more about “fun” evil clowns, not real-life evil clowns.
- Stitches (2012) – I haven’t seen this one yet but I’ve heard good things about it. A clown rises from the dead seeking revenge on those that killed him. Sounds awesome.
- Shakes the Clown (1998) – A black comedy about the fall of a drunken, womanizing clown who is framed by his nemesis Binky. It’s a movie you should watch, but Shakes isn’t evil.
- The Joker – The Dark Knight (2008) – Heath Ledger’s final performance, as the clownish but evil Joker, is outstanding. He just wasn’t right for what I’m trying to do in this article.
- Clown Doll – Poltergeist (1982) – As I said in my article on killer toys, anyone sleeping in a room with this doll deserves to be attacked by it.
- Clown Zombie – Zombieland (2009) – This guy would have made the list, but he only has a brief appearance in this fun zombie movie. What could be worse than a clown zombie?
- Pennywise – Stephen King’s It (1990) – I know he’s scary, but It was a TV movie and I am going for theatrical or straight-to-video movies in this article.
- Buster – Masters of Horror “We All Scream For Ice Cream” (2007) – A good one, but this was a television series as well.
- Captain Spaulding – House of 1000 Corpses (2002) – Captain Spaulding would have made my list, but the movie isn’t about a killer clown; it’s about a killer family.
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