“Coulrophobia” is the fear of clowns. Thanks to Merriam-Webster, we have a standardized definition to explain the greater public’s inconsolable fear of the red-nosed nemeses.
A relatively new word (and newly-recognized phobia as well), coulrophobia is nonetheless a real and palpable fear for many people. Clowns have become an archetype of evil. Perhaps 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.
It’s no wonder, then, that clowns have become the go-to character for a vast amount of horror films over the years. They provide producers with ample opportunity to leave quite an impression on their audiences.
In honor of all those coulrophobia-induced sleepless nights, here is our list of the 15 Scariest Clowns In Horror Movies.
15. The Violator – Spawn (1997)
Let’s start on a somewhat lighter note. In short, Violator is a powerful Hell-born demon whose primary objective is to prepare evil souls on Earth to join Satan’s army when the time calls for it. And though Violator indeed has to guide Hellspawn to leading Hell’s armies, he takes a dim view of humanity, and feels that humans are unworthy of the Hellspawn position
In the film (as well as the Todd McFarlane comic he is based on) Violator assumes the role of an overweight, balding, blue clown, and though he makes frequent pains to prove how much better and more knowledgeable he is than his master, he is interminably tied to Satan’s command. His own powers are many, however; Violator can shape-shift, heal himself, teleport, possess people and even breathe fire. He may spend most of the film cracking jokes, but you most definitely wouldn’t want to see him lose his sense of humor.
14. Stitches – Stitches (2012)
Grubby children’s entertainer Richard “Stitches” Grindle, a third-rate clown, is accidentally killed by the cruel kids attending the birthday of the eight-year-old Tommy somewhere around Wicklow. Eight years later Stitches rises from the grave, as all clowns who die in mid-performance apparently do, and returns to a birthday party at the teenager Tommy’s home where he sets about murdering the children who mocked him and brought about his death.
Indeed, Stitches wants revenge in the goriest way possible… with a side of slapstick. Seriously, the death scenes in this film are simply fantastic. From ice-cream brain scoops to inflatable balloon guts, Stitches has a novel way of dealing out the damage as well as having a groan-worthy list of puns.
13. Bobo – Out Of The Dark (1988)
“Suite Nothings” is a sleazy L.A. phone-sex hot-line voiced by failed models. Preying on them is Bobo, a psychotic killer who dresses in a clown costume. Bobo has been calling the girls up for quite some time and his deep, threatening voice and sudden outbursts creep a few of the employees out, but they view him as basically being harmless. That is until he proves the “clown after midnight” adage correct by surprising one of the ladies in a park late at night with a baseball bat. Not content with just that, he shows an even sicker side by mutilating the corpse and cutting her nipples off. Sheesh.
Once a second girl is strangled with a water hose, it’s realized by the girls that the psycho is indeed targeting their establishment specifically. While the police try to uncover the clown’s identity, the agency’s models fall to Bobo’s murderous rage.
12. Gurdy – 100 Tears (2007)
After being accused of sex crimes he did not commit, a lonely circus clown known onstage as Gurdy exacts his revenge on those who unjustly condemned him. The act sparks something inside of him which he cannot stop and now, years later, his inner-demons have truly surfaced. Part urban legend, part tabloid sensationalism, he is now an unstoppable murderous juggernaut, fueled only by hate.
Subsequently, when two journalists decide to hunt him down, things go from bad to worse when they end up trapped in Gurdy’s warehouse and subsequently hunted down by him. It’s a gory, horrifying fight for their lives with no telling who will emerge alive…
11. The Heads – 31 (2016)
Combining elements of Battle Royale and The Running Man, the stage for Rob Zombie’s 31 is simply set: Five carnies (including one played by wife Sheri Moon Zombie) are abducted and forced to enter a survival game. Conceptualizing his scenario from the statistic that Halloween (i.e. October 31) is the day that the most people go missing, Zombie creates a “Murder World” where three bewigged British fops take mortality bets on the five captured circus folk as they are chased around an industrial labyrinth. Those doing the chasing are a series of pseudo-archetypal evil clowns.
To be fair, the clowns are a fun bunch. Led by the fittingly named Doom-Head, there is also Sex-Head, Death-Head, Schizo-Head, Psycho-Head and Sick-Head. Why the “Head” monikers? It’s never fully explained. And you know what? It doesn’t really matter. Just know that these guys are no joke.