Killer clowns: Here are the very worst from TV and movies
Remember during the more innocent and simpler time of 2016 when the greatest concern we had was randos dressing up like clowns and acting creepy af? For some reason, there’s just something about a clown that freaks a lot of us out more than we ever would like to admit. That’s why clowns are a definite staple within the horror genre: usually grungy, usually thirsty for blood.
Maybe a large part of this anxiety around clowns comes from the fact that serial killer John Wayne Gacy was one. Maybe it stems from something about the happy painted face that makes us wonder what is really going on underneath the falsehood of the permanent grin. Either way, clowns can be very scary.
So let’s activate all of your coulrophobia by going through the very worst from TV and film.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
If you want to see some scary clowns, but prefer more camp with your horror, then Killer Klowns from Outer Space is 100% your jam. This beloved 80s cult classic follows an attempted invasion by an evil alien race who look like clowns for some reason as they attempt to invade a small town to eat the humans for sustenance.
It’s weird. It’s horror. It’s funny. Killer Klowns from Outer Space will take you through a gamut of emotions. The Klowns themselves are actually pretty terrifying, especially if you’re thinking back to those weird 2016 clown sightings.
The original 2017 It is, honestly, one of the best horror movies to come out of the 2010s. The cast was perfect. Bill Skarsgård was amazing as Pennywise. Director Andy Muschietti pretty much crafted one of the most genuinely creepy and unsettling movies in recent years. By focusing on the young Losers Club, Muschietti had our anxiety high with the kids in some very real danger and no one around to help.
Again Skarsgård was a truly amazing Pennywise. Tim Curry will appear on this list, but something about Skarsgård’s performance made everyone sleep with their lights on. His threatening demeanor to the general aesthetic of his character got all the hairs on our arms standing up.
Wrinkle the Clown (2019)
Wrinkles the Clown is an interesting entry on this list because, well, Wrinkles is real. Sort of. Wrinkles the Clown is a documentary about a man of the same name who lives in Florida (of course) and for a few hundred dollars Wrinkles will attend your party, prank people, or scare your misbehaving kids. The camera crew follows Wrinkles, an elderly homeless man, as he lives his daily life. Or, well, is that really Wrinkles? This documentary takes a surprising twist at the end.
It’s sort of fascinating because, in between following Wrinkles, we see a bunch of experts discuss him from a psychologist to folklore experts to a historian to a professional clown. They all have their own sort of thought process behind Wrinkles and the killer clown trope as a whole. So if you don’t want to be scared, but are curious about where such a phenomenon can come from then definitely watch Wrinkles the Clown. It’s definitely an examination of urban legends and the people who make them.
Told you Tim Curry would appear on this list. Attempts to make Stephen King properties into television miniseries tends to be a hit or miss endeavor. While there are pacing issues amongst other things that plague the 1990 miniseries version of It, we had to mention Curry’s version of Pennywise on this list. For a long time, this clown was THE scary clown.
The fact that Tim Curry took such a zeal to play Pennywise may be a little terrifying, but it’s truly a memorable and creepy performance. While 2017’s It made Pennywise a menacing figure from the get go, Curry’s version comes across a little less creepy at first. At the very least, you can see how this Pennywise so easily lured children down into his lair to eat them. That’s probably the most horrifying thing of all.
American Horror Story: Freak Show (2014-15)
American Horror Story: Freak Show is the fourth season of the popular anthology series hailing from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. In this season, set in 1952, Freak Show introduces the characters of Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), who is a tragic figure but also scary af. A once beloved circus clown who survived a suicide attempt that left him without his lower jaw, Twisty wears a permanently grinning mask and goes on a killing spree to fill his audience with children sans their “mean” parents.
Apparently, according to Murphy, Twisty was so terrifying that “half the time, almost a third of the crew left the set when they shot his scenes because they were afraid of him.” To be fair, Twisty is very, very scary to look at.