Greasepaint and gore: Clowns in cinema


Sean Koepfinger

From this year’s Pennywise to last year’s frightening sightings, it’s obvious that clowns are in. But if you’ve already seen “It” and are still looking for more clown-filled fun, there are plenty of other great options to meet your coulrophobic needs. Now that it’s officially October, there’s no better time to watch some scary movies, so get some popcorn, grab a seat and enjoy these six clown-filled horror movies.

1. Stitches


“Everybody Happy?” – Stitches

For those of you who are looking for a straight-forward slasher, look no further than “Stitches.” This tale of a disgusting party clown seeking vengeance for his accidental murder is filled to the brim with classic slasher cliches and clown-themed fun. The plot and acting are nothing worth bragging about, but the movie is quite entertaining. As Stitches the Clown hunts down each kid responsible for his death, he takes them out with over-the-top methods fit for a clown. It’s also nice to see the high schoolers in a movie played by actual teenagers.

2. Clown


“Over the centuries, the legend of the Cloyne was forgotten. He became the clown. His white face and red nose to make people laugh. To entertain children. If only they knew.” – Herbert Karlsson

If you’re looking for something a bit more psychological, give 2014’s “Clown” a go. When a dad dons a clown costume he found to entertain his kid, he finds that the suit doesn’t seem to want to come off. Although the concept is a bit silly, the movie takes the premise seriously resulting in a rather horrifying little film. And nothing entertains quite like a killer clown eating children in a Chuck-E-Cheese. This is definitely a strange film but definitely worth the watch.

3. 31


“Now, you may think you see a grease-painted performer sitting before you. But trust me, I’m not here to brighten your dismal day. I am here to end your miserable life.” – Doom-Head

While we’re on the subject of strange films, you might enjoy Rob Zombie’s “31.” The film tells the story of a group of carnies who are kidnapped on Halloween and forced to survive 12 hours in a game called “31” where they are being constantly hunted by psychopaths in clown makeup. There’s not too much in way of plot in this movie, and it’s pretty raw, but it’s filled with some horrifying killer clowns — Richard Brake’s “Doom-Head” taking the cake as the scariest. If you’re unfamiliar with Rob Zombie’s filmography, this might not be quite to your taste, but if you like odd films that embrace their own camp and boast an impressive cast with the likes of Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson and E.G. Daily, then this oddity might be exactly what you’re looking for.

4. House of 1000 Corpses / The Devil’s Rejects


“What’s the matter, kid? Don’t ya like clowns? Don’t we make ya laugh?” – Captain Spaulding

More iconic than “31” is another Rob Zombie entry: “House of 1000 Corpses” and its sequel “The Devil’s Rejects.” Although every member of the Firefly Clan is horrifying in their own right, we’re here for the clowns and that brings us to Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding — the disgusting, chicken-eating psycho-killer clown. The first of the films plays more as a classic horror movie with a group of twenty-somethings being captured, tortured and killed by a cult of killers. The sequel turns the lens on the Firefly Clan themselves and follows them as they are pursued by a vengeful cop, which wins points for making you love the bad guys.

5. The Devil’s Carnival


“Cast out for your sin. Come here for redemption.” – Lucifer

If gore and violence aren’t really your cup of tea, then you might enjoy “The Devil’s Carnival,” a short horror-musical by the creators of “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” This quirky little gem tells the tale of three souls who have recently arrived in hell only to find that it’s not what they expected. With each tale inspired by Aesop’s Fables, this film is full of catchy musical numbers and clever allegories. There are plenty of clown-like characters in the film, but the crowning gem is Satan himself with his iconic white face paint. Music, horror and carnies, this film brings all of the dark carnival fun without any of the torture and blood found in some of the other entries on this list.

6. Killer Klowns from Outer Space


Paul, this is more serious than selling ice cream. There’s clowns going around killing people. We’re all in danger.” – Mike Tobacco

While there are plenty of great clown movies out there, none are quite as good as this 1980’s masterpiece. “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” is as ridiculous as the name sounds but is unbelievably good. The plot is pretty predictable and is just as campy and cheesy as you’d expect, but the effects are so visually appealing and fun. Whether it is death by shadow puppet, cotton candy cocoons, or a big-top UFO, the film pulls out all the stops and doubles-down on the clown theme. This B-Movie inspired sci-fi horror flick is more fun than a day at the circus and a must-see for anyone who likes clown movies. But be forewarned, the theme song will be stuck in your head for days.

Hopefully, at least one of these movies catches your eye. Tell me what you think below. Or, if I missed a great clown film, feel free to share that as well. Either way, make sure you fill your October with plenty of frights and be sure to check in for more horror-themed fun all month.

If you haven’t seen “It” yet, go read my review and get out to a theater to see it today!