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Top 10 Scariest Clowns in Movies and TV

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Melissa Kusiolek They’re the frightening funnymen from our childhood that made us never want to visit the circus. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 scariest clowns of film and television. While clowns were traditionally designed to be silly slapstick characters, for this list, we’re looking at the most terrifying takes on these costumed jokers to leave enough of an impression on us that they’re still haunting our nightmares. Special thanks to our users Ellie Yaysel V., Andrew A. Dennison, Griffin Hawke, Brandon Anthony Gatti, Alexander David Bourns and Lucas Hall for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Script written by Melissa Kusiolek

Top 10 Scariest Clowns in Film and TV


They’re the frightening funnymen from our childhood that made us never want to visit the circus. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 scariest clowns of film and television.

While clowns were traditionally designed to be silly slapstick characters, for this list, we’re looking at the most terrifying takes on these costumed jokers to leave enough of an impression on us that they’re still haunting our nightmares.

#10: Clown / Violator
“Spawn” (1997)

What’s worse then having to be a servant to the Devil himself? Having this guy guiding your way. After being betrayed by a colleague, Al Simmons is assassinated. He arrives in Hell, where he’s recruited by Satan as a servant for Armageddon, a role he accepts in exchange for his being returned to Earth. Upon his return, he’s met by The Violator, who is actually a demon hell-bent on leading Spawn on a path of evil destruction. However, he’s taken on the form of a portly male with ominous clown-inspired face-paint and murderous tendencies who can hold his own against Hellspawn – or at least, will most certainly try to.

#9: Horny the Clown / Archie Benjamin
“Drive-Thru” (2007)

In this 2007 horror comedy, hungry teens are stalked by a fearsome and sadistic fast food mascot. With an intercom for a mouth and a passion for exacting revenge on those who harmed him in the past, Horny is the embodiment of demonic possession in a form so frightening that Ronald McDonald would tremble with fear. With several unforgettable and creative ways to dispatch his victims, this is one crazed clown you’ll want to avoid the next time you have a craving for fast food.

#8: Clown Zombie
“Zombieland” (2009)

This film chronicles the adventures of several survivors of a zombie apocalypse with the perfect combination of humor and terror. A showdown at an amusement park with a mob of the undead leaves our unfortunate hero with the choice to either to face his clown phobia or become just another snack. As if clowns weren’t scary enough! Though this make-up-wearing walker’s appearance is short lived, there’s no denying he leaves an impression that makes carnivals a place you’ll always want to steer clear of.

#7: Clown / The Laugh
“Amusement” (2008)

In this slasher flick, a babysitter encounters a clown in her aunt’s home that has a few tricks up his sleeve. In an already creepy room full of clown paraphernalia, this life-sized “doll” is more than meets the eye as he kills people in his search for revenge. With a menacing laugh and the pure joy he finds in both stalking and murdering his victims, this serial killer certainly chose a costume that reflects his horrific nature, what with his blood red hair and clown nose, all while keeping us all on the edge of our rocking chairs.

#6: ‘Crazy’ Joe Davola
“Seinfeld” (1989-98)

He’s one guy that proves not all clowns are happy or tragic: some clowns are just nuts. Angry at Jerry because he allegedly put the kibosh on his NBC deal and sad because Elaine dumped him, Joe Davola lets his mental problems get the better of him and lashes out at the people he thinks have wronged him. Dressed as the saddest clown, Pagliacci, ‘Crazy’ Joe shows up at a performance of the opera to get his revenge. He’s one clown you don't want to meet in a dark alley.


#5: Klowns
“Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (1988)

When a race of evil aliens that resembles clowns lands on Earth, their bloodlust for human flesh, combined with sweet and creative ways of killing their victims, are the stuff of nightmares. Whether they are wrapping their prey in cotton candy-like cocoons, or using puppets to lure them into their hands, this cinematic take on clowns is simply terrifying. We’d hate to see what their home planet looks like. These clowns and their circus-inspired killing spree, paired with their deadly extra-terrestrial powers, make them unforgettable horror fuel that will keep you up at night.

#4: Clown Doll
“Poltergeist” (1982)

When a family believes some nasty spirits haunts their house, they enlist a team of parapsychologists to help them discover the meaning behind these restless ghosts. But they only do this after they experience intense, demonic happenings, including an already creepy toy clown coming to life to terrorize the children of the home. Seriously, why would anyone stay in a house after this? The evil clown doll becomes a true monster under the bed and this memorable scene made us all fear even the most harmless-looking toys in our closet.

#3: The Joker
“Batman” (1989) / “The Dark Knight” (2008)

This iconic comic book villain is Batman’s arch nemesis, and although portrayals have changed throughout his many incarnations, the clown prince of crime remains one badass funnyman you don’t want to mess with. His chaotic mannerisms and unpredictable behavior, combined with a menacing grin and homicidal tendencies, make him the perfect adversary to the cool demeanor of the Caped Crusader. We’ve narrowed down the Joker’s most terrifying big screen depictions to the memorable performances by Jack Nicolson in the 1989’s “Batman” as well as the equally disturbing 2008 interpretation by the late Health Ledger in “The Dark Knight.” Whichever you prefer, there’s no denying the Joker is one of the scariest clowns to ever grace the silver screen.

#2: Captain Spaulding
“House of 1000 Corpses” (2003) / “The Devil’s Rejects” (2005)

In the first of these exploitation horror flicks, we meet a gang of backwoods murderers whose sadistic method of torture killing is as brutal as it is terrifying. As the owner of a local gas station and proprietor of the “Museum of Monsters & Madmen,” Captain Spaulding is the architect of the film’s bloodshed and carnival of horrors, and with just the right amount of intimidating and endearing insanity, he is one crazy clown we love to be scared of. Thanks to his ability to lure in unsuspecting victims with his unsettling charm, he is also a roadside attraction you’ll want to avoid on your next road trip.

Before we reveal our #1 pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Patient X
“Clownstrophobia” (2009)
- Lunatic Bippo, Dippo & Cheeso
“Clownhouse” (1989)
- Gurdy the Clown
“100 Tears” (2007)
- Richard ‘Stitches’ Grindle
“Stitches” (2012)
- Javier
“The Last Circus” (2010)

#1: Pennywise
“It” (1990)

From the twisted mind of Stephen King comes this fearsome clown with a taste for children that has haunted our dreams for decades. A sewer-dwelling monster with the ability to morph into whatever you are most afraid of, Pennywise uses frightening intimidation techniques to keep your heart racing before making you his next meal. With a set of spiky teeth and a tendency to appear in storm drains, this is one clown you never want to meet. Performed to perfection by Tim Curry, this TV adaptation’s terrifying take on killer clowns is as scary as they get, and is guaranteed to keep you frightened for years to come.

Do you agree with our list? Which scary clowns keep you up at night? For more horror and movie entertainment top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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