A Bloody Good Time 04.03.14: Top 10 Creepiest Movie Clowns
Posted by Joseph Lee on 04.03.2014
See you in your dreams.
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Coulrophobia: (coul·ro·phobia) [noun] - Extreme or irrational fear of clowns.
Talking about Chucky is fine and all, but do you know what is way scarier than a killer doll? A clown. We've all been scared for a long time. Some say it's only a recent fear but I'm sure there were people freaked out by Claribel on Howdy Doody and I know there were people bothered by Ronald McDonald. Clowns are just creepy. Is it because they're always smiling? Is it because of the white paint? Is it just because there's something unnatural about them? I don't know. I just know that there's a million other types of people I'd rather share an elevator with than a clown.
So in this week's edition of the column, I'm going to rank the ten creepiest movie clowns. I'm expanding somewhat outside of horror because a clown list wouldn't be complete without one or two names on this list. I'm sticking mostly with horror though, because horror discovered a long time ago how creepy clowns are and continues to exploit that fact to this day.
#10: Violator from Spawn (1997)
The Spawn movie is a mess with some terrible special effects work and some hammy overacting from many. However I don't think it's as bad as everyone thinks it is, partly because of Michael Jai White really trying as the titular anti-hero and partly because to a kid watching this movie, John Leguizamo's Violator was really creepy. Now he plays as corny and wasted opportunity but there are still moments when he can get off-putting, including when he is disguised as a "normal" clown but somehow looks more terrifying than he does normally.
Violator is a lot scarier in the comics but we're talking about the film version. I think he should still rank because not only is he a disgusting blob that you still wouldn't want to hang around, but he can turn into a ten foot tall demonic monster that will bite your head off. Can you imagine something like this existing in a world without a hellspawn to protect us? No one would be safe! Let's hope if another Spawn movie gets off the ground they keep Violator around to scare a new generation.
#9: Clown from Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Cabin in the Woods isn't exactly known for being scary but there is a moment when it decides to freak its audience out with a murderous clown. This happens during the "purge button" sequence when just about every monstrous being you can imagine escapes into the facility and a murder spree starts with everyone that works there. In between the moments of carnage we get this guy, who is only there to remind people that this is still a horror film.
The reason he ranks low is because he isn't in the film for very long and he doesn't do much to stand out when he shows up. But he's still a clown and he's a memorable one at that. He doesn't show up for very long and there are fans of the movie that clearly remember him. But I guess a clown with a knife can have that effect on you. Just be glad you weren't the poor woman that became his victim.
#8: Zombie clown from Zombieland (2009)
What's worse than a normal clown? How about a deceased clown that has come back from the dead? Once again, this clown doesn't appear for very long in Zombieland, but it combines the worst of both worlds for a moment that many fans still remember to this day. Our heroes are surrounded by hordes of zombies and as Columbus races to save Little Rock and Wichita, he runs into his worst fear: a zombie clown.
He had already mentioned earlier in the film that he had a phobia of clowns. So this was a test of sorts for him to prove how much he had grown and how much he cared about his friends. It doesn't change the fact that this movie contains a zombie clown. The fact that it's a clown with rotting flesh and blood coming out of its mouth isn't the worst part. The worst part is when it smiles before attacking. I hate clowns.
#7: John Wayne Gacy in Gacy (2003)
If I were compiling a list of scariest clowns ever, and not just in movies, John Wayne Gacy would probably be #1. The reason should be obvious. He's a real life killer clown and several people were murdered by him. The reason he ranks low on this list is because the biopic Gacy not only wasn't great, but he wasn't a clown very often in the movie. However he's still a clown and he's still a killer in every sense of the word, so he gets ranked in this countdown.
Even if you didn't know Gacy was a killer, have you seen photos of him as Pogo the Clown? He's a creepy-looking man to begin with, but then you put clown makeup on him and he's worse. The same thing applies to this movie. The creepiest moments in this somewhat dull biopic are when Gacy is in clown makeup, especially when he's murdering in his makeup. There's a reason he's such a well known serial killer. It's because we are terrified of clowns and he brought our fears to life. At least he's dead now and zombies aren't actually a thing.
#6 Clown doll from Poltergeist (1982)
One movie just had to cross a line that wasn't meant to be crossed. Not only does Poltergeist give you ghosts, corpses and face-ripping, but it gives you a clown. Not only does it give you a clown, but it gives you a clown doll with the ability to stretch its arms as long as it needs to in order to wrap them around your body. The clown doesn't actually do anything in Poltergeist into one crucial moment, but some people have called it the scariest moment in the entire film. Think about that for a minute.
Personally, I think the clown doll is scariest when it's not doing anything. For one thing, it's "normal" face is a lot creepier than its evil face. At least the evil face you can tell what's going on. The normal face is kind of a blank slate: a wide smile with a vacant stare, with just a hint of the teeth it has. Yes. This clown has teeth. No wonder Robbie was so scared of it. It makes you wonder why he even had it if he didn't want it around. Maybe his parents hated him.
#5: Killer Klowns from Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
This movie doesn't just bring you clowns. It brings you alien clowns who want to wrap you up in acidic cotton candy in order to turn you into food. They have a lot of different tricks for killing you and if you some how make it past the smaller clowns, they have a "Klownzilla" ready to end you. They'll attack old people, young people, dog and even kids if they're allowed to. You are simply food to them, but they'll straight up murder you if you get in their way.
Their methods are various. There's the cotton candy, various whipped cream pies that will melt your body down into a puddle, ray guns and more. You know which method bothered me the most? The shadow puppets. The people were lulled into a false sense of security and somehow the shadow dinosaur defied the laws of physics and ate them. The people were there for one minute then were sent screaming into a dark void. On and then there's the laughter of the clowns, which sounds alien and horrific.
#4: Jack Attack from Demonic Toys (1992)
I refused to watch this for the longest time as a kid because of that killer jack-in-the-box on the cover. Look at that thing! It's the most frightening children's toy ever, a clown in a box with razor sharp teeth designed to pop out and bite your face off. Just think if you saw this in a toy store with no idea of what it was. You'd turn the crank (because who could resist) and then the last thing you'd see before your painful, faceless death would be that thing grinning at you.
Do you even really remember the other Demonic toys? I guess there's Baby Oopsie Daisie, but he's more known for his foul language than for being scary. I think there was a robot and a teddy bear too. Neither have anything in the scares department on Jack Attack, which says a lot because I'm pretty sure the robot shot lasers. We don't even have soldiers that can do that!
#3: Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil's Rejects (2005)
Perhaps if Spaulding had spent a little more time killing people as a clown he would have ranked a little higher. However he doesn't have much screen time in Corpses and he doesn't wear his makeup often in Rejects. Spaulding is a killer if he's dressed as a clown or not. He's also the dirtiest clown on this list, with rotting teeth, a nasty beard and the sweaty greasepaint makeup he wears. Sid Haig had no problem making himself look terrible for the role (he actually looks normal in real life).
Spaulding however does get one great scene in his clown makeup. He wants to know why everyone's so scared of clown then proceeds to make everyone scared of clowns all over again by threatening to murder a child's family. Thanks for the nightmares, Cutter. We appreciate it. Check out the clip below and see what I mean. He's also not above punching PJ Soles in the face.
#2: The Joker
Pick a version. Both Nicholson's version and Ledger's version have their own terrifying aspects to make you question your love of comics. The comic version of The Joker is just scary anyway. He's a murderer that will torture and kill people for no reason other than to provide the punchline for a joke none of us were ever told. Both movie versions played up various parts of the character in different ways making them both memorable takes on the Clown Prince of Crime.
Nicholson's character had more glee to his killing and had such a wife grin on his face when he slaughtered innocent people. Ledger's version was more in line with the darker versions and would have destroyed an entire city with chaos if Batman wasn't able to stop him. Both men are capable of winning over varous criminal types to do their bidding, whatever that may require. Think about that. I'm sure not every criminal working for the Joker is okay with maiming someone that did nothing to them. Some of them may be low-level thugs. But somehow, either by charming them or scaring them, the Joker can make them do whatever he wants to carry off his crimes. That's a scary thought.
#1: Pennywise the Dancing Clown from IT (1990)
There really couldn't be another choice. I'm sure comic fans will be upset with the more iconic choice of The Joker, but Pennywise is a far scarier movie clown. Tim Curry made him a force that would scare anyone who watches that movie (and even some who don't..he's just creepy to look at) for years to come. That's one thing that the remake is going to have to really work on, making Pennywise frightening for a new generation in the same way this miniseries did.
Let's put this in perspective. Pennywise kills children...for food. He prefers to eat children and he prefers to do it when they're afraid. In the book the monster likens it to "salting the meat". In the film he simply says they taste better when they're afraid. So not only will Pennywise murder and eat a child, but he'll psychologically torture it first just so his meal will taste a little better. Yeah, no other clown was getting #1 on this list. Pennywise is the scariest.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook. Next week I'm going to look at underrated slasher villains.
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