IT Chapter Two finally comes to big screens, bringing the epic tale of horror to a conclusion as the Losers Club come back together to fight Pennywise for a second time. Whilst Pennywise can make itself look like anything it often chooses a clown, in part because children like clowns, and in part because it knows clowns are scary as hell. Here are five clowns from film and television that give me the creeps.
Pennywise/IT – IT
Let’s get him out of the way straight away. Pennywise is one of the scariest clowns around. Unlike most of the other entries in this list Pennywise isn’t the natural form of IT. IT is actually an ancient entity from outside the known universe, a place referred to as the Macroverse. IT spends great deals of its life sleep, often for 27 to 30 year periods, before it awakens to feed on the fear of children. IT uses its shape-shifting ability to lure in and then terrify its victims.
Pennywise the clown is one of IT’s favourite forms, but it’s revealed that the creature is actually an otherworldly monstrosity. When the Losers Club actually see IT’s true form they see a giant spider-like creature, as that’s the closest the human mind can perceive it.
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Twisty The Clown – American Horror Story
Twisty the Clown, portrayed by John Carroll Lynch, is one of the main antagonists of American Horror Story: Freak Show. A retired clown who is also a serial killer and kidnapper of children, Twisty is a terrifying sight in his dirty clown costume and prosthetic face piece. He wears a face mask to hide the horrific gunshot wound that blew away his bottom jaw.
Over the course of the season viewers learnt that Twisty was a mentally ill man who worked in a circus in the 1940s, and was very popular with kids. Driven by jealousy, the ‘freaks’ of the circus spread rumours that Twisty was molesting children. After he was driven out of the circus he tried to take his own life, resulting in the missing lower jaw. This series of trauma helped to push Twisty into becoming a killer.
What makes Twisty all the more scary is the fact that he is loosely based upon the real life serial killer and kidnapper John Wayne Gacy, who murdered more than 30 men and children.
The Rakshasa – Supernatural
The main antagonist in an early season two episode of Supernatural, the Rakshasa is a creature from Hindu mythology that eats the flesh of its victims, sleeps on a bed of insects, and can shapeshift to disguise itself as a human. In this case, disguising itself as a blind knife-thrower in a circus, where it selects its victims.
Whilst the Rakshasa doesn’t appear as a clown often, the opening scene of the episode, where it follows a family home is one of the creepiest in the show’s history. Convincing the family’s daughter to let him into the house he allows the little girl to lead him to her parents bedroom, where he then brutally murders the parents. It’s a hell of a creepy scene, and takes its time in building up the tension and fear as the clown lurks in the shadows, and the image of him looming over the sleeping father that’s shown in his POV is terrifying. Whilst scary clowns make more appearances in the series, this first time is easily the creepiest.
Clown Doll – Poltergeist
Not much of an entity or antagonist, the Clown Doll in the Poltergeist movie is an inanimate object that gets possessed by the evil forces at work in the Freeling house. Despite not being in much of the movie the Clown Doll is often cited as one of the most iconic entities.
The Clown Doll is set up early in the film, lurking in the background of the kids’ room. Robbie Freeling even gets creeped out by the doll and covers it with his jacket so that he can sleep. When the doll finally does come to life towards the end of the film it’s something of a relief as it feels like the threat of it doing something has been hanging there for ages. The scene where the clown is suddenly missing, and Robbie has to peek under his bed in order to find it is one of the tensest in the film, and helps to ramp up the horror of the final scenes.
If you’re not against the idea of clown dolls already, this one will certainly help to put you off them.
The Joker – Batman
One of the most iconic clowns in the world, The Joker was created in 1940 by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane, appearing in the debut issue of Batman. The character was originally planned to be killed off in his first issue, but thankfully was spared this fate and went on to become one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time.
Over the years The Joker has gone through many evolutions, ranging from a goofy prankster to a terrifying psychopath. One of my personal favourite versions of The Joker was in Batman RIP, where he was depicted as a cold blooded killer, dressed in a doctor’s gown, gunshot wound to the forehead, and his tongue slit to look like a snake as he stalks his way through the halls, killing everyone in his path. Whatever version of The Joker you prefer, he’s sure to send shivers down your spine.
One of the few non-powered super-villains in the DC Universe, he has managed to hurt a number of heroes in ways that others haven’t, having murdered Jason Todd when he was Robin, crippled Barbara Gordon, and even mentally broken Alfred, making him one of his lackeys. Other versions of the character have been just as destructive, driving Superman to commit murder, and brainwashing Tim Drake. The Joker is one of the most destructive forces in the DC Universe, and one that’s hard to predict. This, along with an unknown origin make his one of the scariest comic book villains of all time.