The return of Pennywise the clown has professional clowns in a lather.
Some say they’re losing work now that the creepy villain from Stephen King’s “It” is haunting cineplexes nationwide. It’s understandable. Pennywise gives the profession a bad name.
Only he’s not alone.
Hollywood has a long history with scary clown characters. They’ve been making us jump for decades, long before King hammered out what would become his 1986 novel “It.”
The following clowns will haunt you just as well as Pennywise … maybe even “better.”
This forgotten 2014 shocker is far from perfect. The tone is wobbly, and the resolution less than satisfying. Yet the tale of an ordinary man who puts on a clown costume before realizing he can’t take it off is absolutely chilling. The premise connects to a very Halloween-themed fear that once we pick up a disguise we simply can’t shake it.
This clown terrified an entire generation. And it was just a toy, a lifeless husk sitting on a chair.
The moment is teased early in the 1982 horror classic. We see the nameless clown in one of the kids’ bedrooms. Later, you just know the toy will come to life in the worst way possible. And so it does, scaring us half to death in the process.
3. The Devil’s Rejects
Sid Haig is a genre fave for his unhinged performances in movies like this 2005 shocker.
Here, he dons the infamous greasepaint to play Captain Spaulding, another twisted soul he originally portrayed in “House of 1000 Corpses.” The character captures what makes clowns so unnerving. He appears to be giddy thanks to all that garish makeup, but there’s something in his twisted grin, that maniacal gait, that digs under our skin.
4. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Sometimes crude special effects can be just as unsettling as state-of-the-art CGI. Witness this silly, but undeniably chilling ’80s romp featuring clown puppets run amok.
Why is it scary (between the laughs)? It’s how single-minded these clowns are. They’re mostly silent and sinister, and they can kill you in any number of ways. And there’s something about the horror-comedy connection that keeps us off balance all the way through.
Wait, this isn’t a killer clowns story. No, but a young Michael Myers murders for the first time wearing a clown mask. It’s the birth of one of Hollywood’s most notorious slasher villains. And the sight of a child, a mere lad, wielding a bloody knife and a clown mask sets the stage for the iconic horror to come.