Top 10 Creepiest Clowns in Horror Movies and Series
This is not the list for those with coulrophobia; consider yourself warned.
Pennywise, "It" (2017)
Well, of course we have none other than Pennywise the Dancing Clown to start us off.
Now, you might be familiar with the original portrayal by Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries, but it's Bill Skarsgård's performance in the 2017 remake that really brought the fear factor into the 21st century. Emerging from the sewers of Derry, Maine, every 27 years to feast on the town's children, Pennywise uses their deepest fears against them.
The movie was a box office hit, raking in over $700 million worldwide, and it's no wonder. After all, who wouldn't pay to watch a demonic, shape-shifting entity disguised as a clown terrify a bunch of kids?
Art the Clown, "Terrifier" (2016)
Now, here's a clown who doesn't need any supernatural abilities to instill fear. Art the Clown, the silent but deadly antagonist of the "Terrifier" series, can send chills down your spine with his sinister smile alone. He's not in it for the laughs, but rather for the grotesque thrill of torturing and killing his victims.
The film may not have been a box office hit, but it's garnered a cult following among horror fans. Not every fan, though, knows that the character Art was initially introduced in the short film "The 9th Circle" before getting his own full-length feature.
Captain Spaulding, "House of 1000 Corpses" (2003)
If you ever find yourself on a road trip, you might want to think twice before stopping at a roadside attraction run by a clown. Captain Spaulding, played by the late, great Sid Haig, is more than just a proprietor of a museum of monsters and madmen. He's a sadistic murderer and part of the Firefly family, a group of psychopathic killers.
Though the movie was far from a critic's favorite, earning a mere 21% on Rotten Tomatoes, Captain Spaulding's terrifying persona has left an indelible mark in the minds of horror fans.
Twisty the Clown, "American Horror Story: Freak Show" (2014)
"American Horror Story" is known for its horrific characters, but Twisty the Clown takes the creepy cake. With his grotesque mask and heartbreaking backstory, Twisty, portrayed by John Carroll Lynch, embodies the horrifying corruption of innocence.
The deformed entertainer-turned-killer was so frightening that the show's creator, Ryan Murphy, received complaints that the character was just way too scary. Now that's what we can call an effective horror.
Killer Klowns, "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" (1988)
This one might be bending the rules slightly, but it's hard to resist the urge to include an entire alien race of murderous clowns. These Killer Klowns, though part of a campy B-movie, were both hilarious and unnerving in their mission to trap humans in cotton candy cocoons for later consumption. Yes, you read that right.
Despite the film's absurdity, or perhaps because of it, it's since become a cult classic, reminding us that horror can be just as effective when it's having a laugh – even a sinister, clown-like cackle.
Pogo the Clown, "Gacy" (2003)
Drawing from the chilling depths of real-life horror, "Gacy" gives us Pogo the Clown, the alter ego of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Portrayed by Mark Holton, the clown persona was used by Gacy to lure his victims, making it one of the most unsettling entries on this list.
Though the film didn't make a big splash in the box office, its Rotten Tomatoes audience score is 21%. Perhaps more noteworthy is the fact that the horrifying events in the movie are based on actual events, which adds yet another chilling layer to the creepiness.
Jangles the Clown, "The Babysitter" (2017)
Even in a horror-comedy, a creepy clown can make a significant impression. Need proof? Enter Jangles, a towering, murderous clown that's part of the cult trying to perform a ritual sacrifice in Netflix 's "The Babysitter".
Portrayed by Andrew Bachelor, Jangles doesn't get a ton of screen time, but when he does, his eerie presence is undeniable. Interestingly, "The Babysitter" was originally a screenplay that had languished in development limbo for years before finally getting the green light from Netflix.
Stitches the Clown, "Stitches" (2012)
When it comes to blending humor with horror, "Stitches" does it perfectly. After being accidentally killed at a children's birthday party, Stitches the Clown (Ross Noble) comes back from the grave for revenge.
The film features some creative and gruesome death scenes and is a horror-comedy gem with a unique clown twist. Despite its low budget and indie status, "Stitches" managed to score a respectable 42% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Clown Doll, "Poltergeist" (1982)
Remember that creepy clown doll from "Poltergeist"? While it might not be the main antagonist, its nightmare-inducing presence surely made it a star of the film. Despite having no lines or notable actions, the clown doll's terrifying grin and uncanny stillness turned it into an iconic figure in horror cinema.
While "Poltergeist" was a big hit, grossing over $76 million domestically, the clown doll's legacy has surely outlived the film's box office success.
Zeebo the Clown, "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" (1990)
You surely remember Zeebo, a ghost clown from the children's horror anthology series "Are You Afraid of the Dark?". While the show generally steered clear of more graphic horror, the episode "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark" gave us one of the most haunting clown figures in television history. Zeebo's laugh alone was enough to send kids hiding under their blankets.
The show was a staple for '90s kids, and Zeebo's episode remains one of the most memorable to this day.