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Scariest Clowns from Horror Movies and Television

Clown culture has cultivated numerous versions of what constitutes one. They were the Court Jesters for Kings and Queens as early as 2400 BC. They surprise children on their Birthdays. They create animal balloons for them. A bunch of them will even attempt to climb out of a car fit for a Leprechaun. A clown car! People’s identification with Clowns as horrific has always been a thing as well. Here are some examples of popular culture’s more maniacal visions of them……..

Art the Clown from Terrifier (2016) and Terrifier 2 (2022)

OK, we might be a little biased starting this off with good ol’ Art. But can you blame us?

In “Terrifier”, Art the Clown is a silent and sadistic killer who terrorizes the streets of a small town on Halloween night. With his grotesque clown makeup and eerie silent demeanor, Art is a terrifying presence that strikes fear into the hearts of his victims. Armed with an assortment of deadly implements including knives and power tools, Art revels in tormenting his prey with sadistic glee. Despite his lack of dialogue, Art’s chilling presence and brutal kills have made him a standout character in the world of horror, earning him a devoted fanbase and cementing his status as one of the most iconic killer clowns in recent memory.

In “Terrifier 2”, Art the Clown returns to unleash another reign of terror upon unsuspecting victims in his quest for sadistic amusement. With his ghastly clown makeup, and some killer sunflower shades, Art is a terrifying sight to behold. Whether he’s silently stalking his prey or cackling maniacally as he delivers the final blow, Art’s chilling presence and gruesome kills make him a standout character in the world of horror. “Terrifier 2” had a limited release in theater that saw overwhelming success, continuing to expand in theatres and bring in unprecedented box office profit, in spite of its budget, ensuring that Art’s reign of terror reached audiences far and wide.

Paul Beaumont, aka HE in He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

Ok, now let’s wind the clocks back to some old school creepy clowns!

In “He Who Gets Slapped”, Paul Beaumont, also known as HE, is a tragic clown who finds solace in the circus ring as he performs his act of getting slapped by other clowns. With his painted face and tattered clown costume, HE embodies the sorrow and despair of a man who has lost everything. Despite his outward appearance of frivolity, HE’s performances are filled with raw emotion, captivating audiences with his silent suffering. As HE grapples with the pain of unrequited love and betrayal, he becomes a symbol of the human condition, reminding us of the fragility of life and the power of redemption.

The Clown Doll from Poltergeist (1982)

Quite literally a top ten jump scare of all time here, folks.

In “Poltergeist”, the innocent-looking clown doll becomes a source of terror as it comes to life in a chilling sequence that has haunted audiences for decades. With its unsettling grin and lifeless eyes, the clown doll embodies the uncanny valley, blurring the lines between the familiar and the eerie. As it stalks young Robbie Freeling through the darkened bedroom, the clown becomes a symbol of childhood fears brought to life. Despite its limited screen time, the clown doll’s impact is undeniable, leaving a lasting impression on viewers long after the credits roll.

Eric Slater in The House on Sorority Row (1982)

Do yourself a favor and check this classic slasher out if you haven’t yet!

In “The House on Sorority Row”, Eric Slater is a deranged killer who dons a clown mask to terrorize a group of sorority sisters. With his sinister clown mask and menacing demeanor, Eric becomes a relentless force of evil as he hunts down his victims one by one. Armed with a variety of deadly implements including knives and a sickle, Eric leaves a trail of carnage in his wake as he seeks revenge for past wrongs. As the sorority sisters fight for their lives, they must confront the dark secrets of their past and unravel the mystery of Eric’s identity before it’s too late.

The Klowns in Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

B-horror movie fans and stoner couch potatoes unite! Your magnum opus has arrived.

In “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”, a group of extraterrestrial clowns descends upon a small town, bringing with them a circus of horrors unlike anything the world has ever seen. With their outlandish costumes and deadly circus-themed weapons, the killer klowns unleash chaos and carnage as they hunt down unsuspecting victims. Each clown has its own distinct personality and method of killing, from pie-throwing to cotton candy cocoons. Despite their comedic appearance, the killer klowns are a formidable force to be reckoned with, turning the town into a nightmare carnival of death.

Escaped Mental Patient from Clownhouse (1989)

In “Clownhouse”, an escaped mental patient dons a clown costume to terrorize three young brothers who are home alone. With his menacing presence and unhinged behavior, the escaped mental patient becomes a relentless force of evil, preying on the brothers’ deepest fears. Armed with a variety of makeshift weapons and a thirst for violence, the clown embodies the horrors of the human psyche unleashed. While his backstory may remain shrouded in mystery, his impact on the film’s protagonists is undeniable, turning their night of fun into a harrowing fight for survival.

The Joker in Batman (1989), Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995), The Dark Knight (2007), and Joker (2019)

The most famous clown in pop culture just also happens to have been played by some of the best actors ever (sans one Mr. Leto). Coincidence?

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker in Tim Burton’s “Batman” remains one of the most iconic and influential interpretations of the character. With his larger-than-life personality and wicked sense of humor, Nicholson’s Joker is a gleeful agent of chaos who delights in causing mayhem and destruction. From his garish purple suit to his maniacal laughter, Nicholson’s Joker embodies the anarchic spirit of the Clown Prince of Crime, leaving an indelible mark on the Batman franchise and pop culture as a whole.

Mark Hamill’s performance as the Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series” redefined the character for a new generation of fans. With his distinctive voice and pitch-perfect delivery, Hamill’s Joker is a masterful blend of menace and mischief, capable of chilling acts of violence and dark humor in equal measure. From his colorful schemes to his iconic laugh, Hamill’s Joker is a tour de force of voice acting that has earned him a place as one of the definitive portrayals of the character.

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” is widely regarded as one of the greatest performances in cinematic history. With his unsettling appearance and unpredictable behavior, Ledger’s Joker is a chaotic force of nature who revels in pushing Gotham City to the brink of destruction. From his gruesome makeup to his haunting monologues, Ledger’s Joker is a mesmerizing embodiment of pure anarchy, leaving audiences on the edge of their seats with every twisted scheme and sinister smile.

Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur Fleck, the man who becomes the Joker, in Todd Phillips’ “Joker” offers a gritty and introspective exploration of the character’s origins. With his haunting portrayal of a troubled man descending into madness, Phoenix’s Joker is a sympathetic yet deeply unsettling figure, whose transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime is as tragic as it is terrifying. From his ear-piercing laughter to his haunting dance moves, Phoenix’s Joker is a haunting reminder of the darkness that lurks within us all, earning him critical acclaim and multiple awards for his transformative performance.

Pennywise from It (1990, 2017)

This was probably the first clown that made most of us either love them to pieces, or be deathly afraid of them to this day.

Pennywise the Dancing Clown, also known simply as Pennywise, is the terrifying antagonist of Stephen King’s “It”. Appearing every 27 years to prey on the children of Derry, Maine, Pennywise embodies the pure essence of fear. With his ghastly white face, blood-red lips, and haunting yellow eyes, Pennywise lures his victims with promises of their deepest desires before revealing his true monstrous form. Whether portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries or Bill Skarsgård in the 2017 and 2019 film adaptations, Pennywise’s chilling presence leaves an indelible mark on all who encounter him, making him one of the most iconic and feared clowns in horror history.

Binky from Shakes the Clown (1991)

In “Shakes the Clown”, Binky is the arch-nemesis of the titular character and serves as the main antagonist of the film. With his sinister grin and ruthless demeanor, Binky embodies the dark side of clowning, using his status as a children’s entertainer to manipulate and exploit those around him. Armed with a variety of dirty tricks and a sadistic sense of humor, Binky stops at nothing to sabotage Shakes’ career and reputation. While “Shakes the Clown” may be a dark comedy, Binky’s menacing presence adds a layer of genuine menace to the film, serving as a cautionary tale of the dangers of unchecked ambition.

Violator from Spawn (1997)

The lesser known comic-origin clown, though just as (if not more) monstrous than DC’s Clown Prince of Crime (fun fact: Spawn and Batman have teamed up in the comics before!).

In “Spawn”, Violator is a demonic clown who serves as a minion of the infernal antagonist, Malebolgia. With his grotesque appearance, wild, colorful hair, and twisted sense of humor, Violator delights in tormenting the titular antihero and manipulating him to further his own dark agenda. Despite his clownish exterior, Violator is a cunning and ruthless adversary, using his demonic powers to wreak havoc and sow chaos wherever he goes. Whether in his clown form or his monstrous demon form, Violator is a formidable foe who embodies the darkest depths of human depravity.

Killjoy the Demonic Clown in Killjoy (2000)

In “Killjoy”, Killjoy the Demonic Clown is a supernatural entity summoned by a vengeful teenager to exact revenge on his tormentors. With his eerie clown makeup and twisted grin, Killjoy is a terrifying presence that strikes fear into the hearts of his victims. Armed with supernatural powers and an arsenal of deadly tricks, Killjoy torments his victims with sadistic glee, turning their worst nightmares into horrifying reality. Whether he’s lurking in the shadows or taunting his prey with macabre jokes, Killjoy’s chilling presence and gruesome kills make him a standout character in the world of horror.

Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Rest in Peace, Sid Haig. Despite the clown makeup and the iconic violent character, you were a true sweetheart!

Captain Spaulding is the eccentric and sadistic patriarch of the Firefly family in Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses”. With his crude clown makeup and even cruder humor, Captain Spaulding presents himself as a jovial and harmless roadside attraction. However, beneath his jovial exterior lies a twisted and malevolent mind, as Captain Spaulding is revealed to be a cold-blooded killer who revels in torture and murder. Despite his despicable actions, Captain Spaulding’s charismatic personality and memorable catchphrases have made him a fan-favorite character in the horror genre, leaving an indelible mark on audiences.

In “The Devil’s Rejects”, Captain Spaulding is the foul-mouthed and sadistic patriarch of the Firefly family, played with gleeful malevolence by Sid Haig. Captain Spaulding cuts a striking figure as he revels in chaos and carnage. Armed with a twisted sense of humor and a penchant for violence, Captain Spaulding is a force to be reckoned with, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake as he spreads terror across the countryside. Whether he’s cracking jokes or wielding a shotgun with deadly precision, Captain Spaulding’s charismatic presence and iconic lines have made him a fan-favorite character in the horror genre.

Billy the Puppet in Saw (2003)

Who knew there would be MULTIPLE clown puppets on this list?

In “Saw”, Billy the Puppet serves as the sinister messenger of the Jigsaw Killer, delivering his twisted games to those he deems unworthy of their lives. With his eerie white face and red spiraled cheeks, Billy is a haunting presence that strikes fear into the hearts of his victims. Armed with a variety of deadly traps and a penchant for sadistic games, Billy serves as a reminder that the true horror lies not in the traps themselves, but in the choices that lead to them. Whether he’s delivering chilling messages or overseeing the deadly games from the shadows, Billy’s chilling presence and iconic design make him a standout character in the world of horror.

John Wayne Gacy/Pogo the Clown in Gacy (2003)

Given the real life context here, this one certainly is in a category of its own.

In “Gacy”, John Wayne Gacy, also known as Pogo the Clown, is a real-life serial killer who terrorized Chicago in the 1970s. With his sinister clown makeup and charming demeanor, Gacy used his alter ego as a cover for his heinous crimes, luring young men to their deaths with promises of work and friendship. As the bodies pile up, Gacy’s facade begins to crumble, revealing the true monster lurking beneath the clown mask. “Gacy” delves into the chilling true story of one of America’s most infamous killers, offering a harrowing glimpse into the mind of a psychopath.

Horny the Clown in Drive Thru (2007)

In “Drive Thru”, Horny the Clown is the mascot of Hella-Burger, a fast-food restaurant where the employees are as deadly as the food they serve. With his garish clown makeup and leering grin, Horny is a terrifying presence that strikes fear into the hearts of his victims. Armed with a variety of deadly implements including a giant spatula and a meat cleaver, Horny serves up a deadly combo of terror and gore as he hunts down anyone unlucky enough to visit Hella-Burger. Whether he’s lurking in the drive-thru window or stalking the restaurant’s darkened corridors, Horny’s chilling presence and gruesome kills make him a standout character in the world of horror.

Clown Zombie in Zombieland (2009)

Don’t forget the double tap rule.

In “Zombieland”, the Clown Zombie is one of many undead horrors unleashed upon the world by a zombie apocalypse. With his decaying flesh and tattered clown costume, the Clown Zombie is a grotesque parody of his former self, his twisted grin frozen in a rictus of death. As he shambles through the streets in search of fresh flesh, the Clown Zombie serves as a reminder that even the most innocent of childhood icons can become corrupted by the horrors of the undead. Whether he’s feasting on the living or being dispatched in creative ways by the film’s protagonists, the Clown Zombie adds a touch of macabre humor to the apocalyptic landscape of “Zombieland”.

The Funny Clown & Sad Clown in The Last Circus (2010)

This is a weird one, folks.

In “The Last Circus”, the Funny Clown and Sad Clown are rival performers locked in a deadly struggle for the affections of the same woman. With their exaggerated clown makeup and contrasting personalities, the Funny Clown and Sad Clown represent the dual nature of human emotion, from joy and laughter to sorrow and despair. As their rivalry escalates into violence and madness, the clowns become symbols of the chaos and turmoil of the Spanish Civil War. Whether they’re performing for adoring crowds or battling to the death in a twisted circus of horrors, the Funny Clown and Sad Clown’s tragic tale is a haunting reminder of the fragility of the human spirit.

Stitches (2012)

In “Stitches”, the titular character is a disgraced clown who returns from the dead to seek revenge on those responsible for his untimely demise. With his tattered clown costume and grotesque makeup, Stitches is a terrifying sight to behold as he embarks on a murderous rampage. Armed with an assortment of deadly clown-themed weapons and a wicked sense of humor, Stitches leaves a trail of carnage in his wake as he hunts down his former tormentors. While “Stitches” may blend horror and humor, its titular clown is a truly menacing presence who embodies the darkest fears of childhood.

Gingerclown in Gingerclown (2013)

In “Gingerclown”, Gingerclown is the monstrous creation of a young boy’s nightmares, brought to life by a sinister wish made on a cursed amulet. With his grotesque clown makeup and blood-red hair, Gingerclown is a terrifying presence that strikes fear into the hearts of those who encounter him. Armed with a variety of deadly implements including a giant sledgehammer and a razor-sharp machete, Gingerclown embarks on a bloody rampage through the abandoned amusement park where he was born. Whether he’s lurking in the shadows or stalking his prey with relentless determination, Gingerclown’s chilling presence and gruesome kills make him a standout character in the world of horror.

Frowny the Clown/Clöyne from Clown (2014)

Before Jon Webb was breaking box-office records with Spider-Man, he was cutting his teeth in the indie horror circuit.

In “Clown”, Frowny the Clown, also known as Clöyne, is a cursed clown costume that transforms its wearer into a bloodthirsty monster. With its pale, ghostly face and eerie black eyes, the clown costume is a haunting presence that strikes fear into the hearts of those who encounter it. As the cursed costume takes hold of its wearer, they undergo a horrifying transformation, their skin turning pale and their features contorting into a grotesque parody of a clown. Armed with superhuman strength and an insatiable hunger for children, Frowny the Clown becomes a relentless force of evil, leaving a trail of carnage in its wake. “Clown” was released direct-to-video, ensuring that Frowny’s reign of terror reaches audiences far and wide.

Papa Corn in Circus of the Dead (2014)

In “Circus of the Dead”, Papa Corn is the sadistic ringmaster of a traveling circus of horrors, played with chilling charisma by Bill Oberst Jr. With his exaggerated clown makeup and imposing presence, Papa Corn commands the stage with a mix of showmanship and menace. As he orchestrates a deadly game of cat and mouse with a group of hapless victims, Papa Corn’s sadistic glee is palpable, his laughter echoing through the darkness of the circus tent. Whether he’s cracking jokes or wielding a chainsaw with deadly precision, Papa Corn’s charismatic performance makes him a standout character in the world of horror.

Jack-in-the-Box from Krampus (2015)

In “Krampus”, the Jack-in-the-Box is one of the malevolent creatures unleashed by the titular holiday demon to terrorize a dysfunctional family. With its sinister appearance and unnerving jester-like grin, the Jack-in-the-Box is a chilling presence that strikes fear into the hearts of its victims. Armed with sharp teeth and a spring-loaded surprise, the Jack-in-the-Box lurks in the shadows, waiting to pounce on anyone who dares to cross its path. While “Krampus” may blend horror and holiday cheer, the Jack-in-the-Box serves as a reminder that even the most innocent of childhood toys can become a source of terror in the hands of a malevolent force.

The Heads from 31 (2016)

In “31”, The Heads are a trio of sadistic clowns who serve as the primary antagonists of the film’s deadly game of survival. With their grotesque appearances and twisted sense of humor, The Heads revel in tormenting their victims with sadistic games and brutal violence. Each Head brings their own unique brand of terror to the table, from the sadistic Schizo-Head to the flamboyant Sick-Head. Armed with an assortment of deadly weapons and a thirst for bloodshed, The Heads are relentless in their pursuit of their prey, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake as they hunt down the film’s protagonists.

Twisty from American Horror Story: Freak Show (2017)

In “American Horror Story: Freak Show”, Twisty the Clown is a disgraced performer who becomes a murderous psychopath after being rejected by society. With his disfigured face and eerie demeanor, Twisty is a terrifying presence that strikes fear into the hearts of those who encounter him. Armed with an assortment of deadly implements including his trademark juggling pins and a grotesque mask, Twisty embarks on a bloody rampage, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. Despite his tragic backstory, Twisty’s gruesome kills and chilling appearance have made him one of the most memorable characters in the “American Horror Story” series, earning him a place in the pantheon of horror icons.

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