9 movie and TV clowns that scared the hell out of us

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Jul 4, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

As far as we're concerned, there's nothing scarier than a clown. There's something about face paint, a red squishy nose and oversized shoes that gives us the heebie-jeebies. That's why we're devoting the eighth of our 31 specials for the 31 days of Halloween to the top 10 coulrophobia-causing clowns.

Check back tomorrow to meet the most chilling children in horror movies!

Pennywise the Dancing Clown

Stephen King is a bad bad man. A talented writer, sure, but I blame his book It for giving me the sweats whenever the Big Apple Circus performs on The Today Show. The novel, which is the story of a child-killing entity in the shape of a clown, was made into a TV movie starring Tim Curry. (Also notable ... Curry had a painted face as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Totally different effect on me.)

Captain Spaulding

Sid Haig portrayed the fried-chicken-cooking evil clown in Rob Zombie's horror films House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Haig was also seen in an episode of The Flying Nun. Scary for other reasons.


Spawn's evil nemesis, Violator the Demon, from the Spawn comics, appears as fat, balding demon with a painted face who is working to expand Hell's Army. Played by John Leguizamo in the 1997 film.

Poltergeist's clown doll

This movie made many a child run from the room when a television station showed static. Mention the film and people feel compelled to do their very best "Go into the light, Carol Anne" imitation. That's scary enough. But that clown doll coming to life and attacking you from under your bed? Shudder.

Zombieland's Zombie Clown

All right, I know this one is meant to be funny, but it still gave me nightmares. And the main character Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg and based on writer Rhett Reese) does say that clowns are one of his biggest fears. His end is rather satisfying.


The musical loop from an ice cream truck could drive anyone to homicide. In this episode of Masters of Horror, titled "We All Scream for Ice Cream," an ice cream man named Buster dresses like a clown and returns from the dead for revenge.

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

This 1988 film features human-harvesting aliens who look like clowns. Really? Because anal probing and crop circles aren't scary enough?

Doctor Who's Robotic Space Clowns

In the episode "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy," the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his clown-fearing companion, Ace (Sophie Aldred), check out the Psychic Circus on the planet Segonax. Evil, robotic space clowns in a circus founded by hippies. No, I think I'd be staying inside the TARDIS.

The Joker

Not only is the Joker one of the greatest villains in the history of comics, but Heath Ledger gave such a nuanced and stunning performance in The Dark Knight that I'll never read another Batman comic without picturing him. It wiped A Knight's Tale clean out of my head.

And while you're in a Halloween state of mind, why not check out:

Day 1: 19 amazing Star Wars pumpkins

Day 2: Our 9 favorite crazy zombie kills of all time (video)

Day 3: 10 scariest Stephen King novels

Day 4: 14 great Cthulhu toys that make devouring souls fun

Day 5: 15 haunted cereals that will scare your dentist

Day 6: 20 great costumes to dress up your pet

Day 7: 21 (mostly) sexy female stormtroopers (NSFW)

Day 9: 10 creepy movie kids even Angelina Jolie wouldn't adopt

Day 10: 6 most awesome Stephen King horror films (plus 3 that sucked)

Day 11: 16 horror movie posters so gruesome they make our eyeballs bleed

Day 12: 16 hot movie and TV vampires who turn us into willing victims

Day 13: 20 awesomely hot Slave Leia costumes (slightly NSFW)

Day 14: 14 lamest horror movie killer costumes (What were they thinking?)

Day 15: 9 of the grossest, goriest X-Files creatures

Day 16: 11 splatterific exploding head scenes from the movies

Day 17: 15 of the most disgusting Halloween candies you can buy

Day 18: 19 freakiest movie and TV neighbors from hell

Day 19: 11 most disturbing Treehouse of Horror segments from The Simpsons

Day 20: 9 rampaging space zombies hungry for our sci-fi brains

Day 21: 10 most nightmarish movie prom nights

Day 22: 11 scary, goofy and just plain revolting movie possessions

Day 23: 13 kick-ass moments from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Day 24:13 real haunted houses you can visit in the U.S.

Day 25: 15 ghoulish apps you can download to your iPhone

Day 26: 20 hot film and TV witches and warlocks that cast a spell on us

Day 27: The 10 most truly, utterly evil things in sci-fi

Day 28: The 15 cursed movie objects you NEVER want to own

Day 29: 14 most twisted original Twilight Zone twist endings

Day 30: 16 sci-fi costumes that would definitely get you fired (NSFW)

Day 31: 12 awesome sci-fi Halloween moments, real and fake