9 Most Frightening Clowns in Horror Movie History

Jeremy Turner

No matter what people say clowns are pretty scary. With their pale painted faces, huge freakish grins and massive feet it is no wonder that clowns have been so successful in horror movies. These mischievous maniacs can murder their way across the big screen in a way few villains could.

Captain Spaulding [House Of 1000 Corpses & Devil’s Rejects]

He’s creepy, filthy and a jaded sociopath. This malevolent mischief-maker was first seen in House Of 1000 Corpses luring tourists into the Firefly family’s trap for torture and sacrifice. Though his connection to the cult-like family was left ambiguous at first he’s later revealed to be the head of the family. This murderous freak isn’t necessarily as scary as other killer clowns but he’s still pretty disturbing.

Killer Klowns [Killer Klowns From Outer Space]

The Killer Klowns are kind of silly, and that’s to be expected of a cheap ‘80s horror comedy, but their originality and seriously creepy animatronic faces put them ahead of most of the competition as far as frightening clowns go. These freakishly proportioned aliens may kill with cheap gags but their sole purpose is to kill and collect people for food.

They eat people! There’s also the disturbing bit where one of them uses the corpse of a police officer as a ventriloquist’s dummy. This film may just put you off popcorn when you find out what their clown larvae look like…

Horny The Clown [Drive Thru]

The irreverent mascot of the Hella Burger drive through burger joint is a surprisingly scary villain. Hacking and slashing his way through town, this hulking horror is the displaced and vengeful spirit of an accidental manslaughter.

He takes the Freddy Krueger approach of killing his murderers children as a form of vengeance. Killer clowns are scary but throw in the supernatural element and you’ve got something really nasty to work with.

Funny Man [Funny Man]

The Funny Man is a fourth wall breaking demonic jester that loves to torture and torment his victims to death in ways that are reflective of his own twisted sense of humour.

It’s a pretty schlocky horror film from the ‘90s with a bit of a Scooby Doo feel to it but that doesn’t stop the character from being creepy and weird as hell.

Emmet [Scary Or Die]

Okay, so it’s a pretty weak indie horror collection but the best part of it is the 30 min short ‘Clowned’. It’s the story of one man’s transformation from deadbeat to flesh eating were-clown.

After being bitten by a clown at his little brother’s birthday party Emmet begins to change slowly but surely into a monster, eventually his little brother starts looking tasty so in a desperate attempt to save his friends and family he goes after the clown that bit him. While the character isn’t exactly evil, or at least he’s trying not to be, you can’t fault him for being scary as hell.

John Gacy [Gacy]

The scariest thing about this killer clown is that he was real, he’s the guy that the killer clown mythos is based upon and he’s one of America’s most famous serial killers. He killed over 30 people, a large number of them children, and there have been numerous films about him.

The most relentlessly disturbing portrayal is in ‘Gacy’, it’s not a deep film, it doesn’t explore his character, it just relives his crimes. The scariest thing was how close he was to people’s children in his day-to-day job as a party clown.

Gurdy The Clown [100 Tears]

100 Tears is a film that’s strong on gore and weak on story. This killer clown is just an overweight mentally unbalanced guy in a clown costume, that doesn’t stop him being scary though.

Although Gurdy’s outfit looks like something from a costume store, this raging psycho guts and dismembers people by the dozen with his oversized meat-cleaver. He may not be some demonic predator but that doesn’t seem to have stopped him being a brutal and unstoppable killing machine.

Clown Doll [Poltergeist]

This harmless child’s toy becomes instant nightmare fuel when a malevolent spirit possesses it. Forcing the otherwise harmless clown toy to creep up and attack the young boy, Robbie, in his bed.

The clown’s plastic face twists and contorts into a fearsome snarling visage of terror. Clowns may be freaky but toy clowns are something else.

Pennywise The Dancing Clown [IT]

Okay, he’s really a giant spider with guts made of floodlights but as a clown this thing is terrifying (and this is coming from an arachnophobic nerd), he goes from being slightly creepy and out of place to full on nightmare fuel over the course of the film, tearing a child’s arm off, popping up through drains and coming out with creepy stuff like “they all float down here”.

While the body count is pretty low he gets the scares through the creep factor. Plus it’s Tim Curry; if anyone is going to turn something that’s normally harmless into a disturbing nightmare it’s going to be him (I mean that in a good way).



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      1. Willem Dunham September 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm


      2. Michael Stewart September 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm

        I definately have to agree with the toy clown from “Poltergeist”… THAT one scared me enough to not want a clown toy. LOL

      3. Kyle Styres September 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        the scene in killer klowns where the big ugly clown is beckoning the girl over with his finger presumably to smash her with the huge mallet is quite freaky.

        • Kyle Styres September 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm

          lol @ big ugly clown blahh

      4. Horror Nerds December 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

        The Clown Doll from Poltergeist is the one I find most horrifying. It does look so much like the old clown doll given to me by grandma. After I saw the movie I buried it in the backyard .. still have nightmares of it clawing its way out of that grave

      5. Missy Barzal January 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

        This is exacly why I hate clowns =(

      6. Georganne April 14, 2013 at 4:35 am

        The clown from demonic toys. Who feared the Jack in The Box?

      7. Jason April 25, 2013 at 8:50 am

        For some reason, these clowns scare people more than any horror movie antagonist. Any topic concerning demonic possession and the Devil create actual fear.

        Good list of scary clowns in horror movies.

      8. georganne April 26, 2013 at 2:52 am

        No movies made about Clarabell or Bozo.

      9. Amitha Vuputuri May 20, 2013 at 6:14 am

        Very very scary!!!

      10. hairy April 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm


      11. Josh Zook April 27, 2015 at 10:04 am

        Clownhouse is a really scary movie from the 80s about 3 escaped criminally insane guys who dress up like clowns and terrorize a kid in his house at night. Scared the hell outta my sister and I when we were kids.

      12. Misanthrope November 24, 2017 at 5:09 am

        Art the Clown from All Hallow’s Eve and the upcoming film Terrifier. That guy is a cross between a clown, a mime, a demon, and Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bloody Disgusting said he was the scariest clown ever, and I agree! I hope he becomed horror’s next greatest villian \m/