10 Memorable Clowns in Movies


Not all clowns are meant to be scary, but that doesn’t mean they don’t inadvertently horrify children all over the world.  Even the seemingly friendly and happy clowns can be terrifying, and aside from the dark, I’d say that clowns are the number one fear-inducer in children.  I know hardly anyone who wasn’t afraid of clowns as a kid.  Point being, when you see a clown in a movie, you tend to remember it.  Even if the clown doesn’t scare you, you often can’t help but think, “Man, that would have scared the crap out of me when I was younger.”

I compiled a list of clowns in movies, and really, maybe just a couple of them aren’t scary.  

Pennywise – It


Pennywise is the scariest clown ever, and he’s the first that came to mind when I decided to create this list.  In the TV miniseries It (which I think we can count as a movie), Pennywise the Dancing Clown was played by the very creepy Tim Curry.  The clown is just one of “It’s” forms, complete with long claws and fangs.  Truly terrifying for children.

Clown on Stilts – Billy Madison


Hey, kids, it’s me!  I bet you thought that I was dead!  But when I fell I only broke my neck and got a hemorrhage in my head!

Killer Klowns from Outer Space


If I hadn’t seen this movie years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it was real – that’s how absurd it is.  But I mean that in a good way.  The clowns in this movie are actually aliens, and the entire thing is silly and ridiculous.  It turns out a good shot to the nose is the best way to deal with these guys.

Hidden Camera Clown – The Game


Nicholas Van Orton finds a body in his driveway that immediately conjures up images of his dead father, who had committed suicide by jumping of the roof of the Van Orton home.  It turns out the body is that of a large, wooden clown, and so Nicholas brings it inside.  In the clown’s head is a hidden camera, and once he discovers the key inside the clown’s mouth, Nicholas’ “game” begins.

Haunted Clown – Poltergeist


The scene in which the clown comes to life is about as scary a movie scene as a child can imagine.  It’s like all of your fears rolled into one grinning, maniacal being of pure evil.  No thank you.

Shakes the Clown – Shakes the Clown


Shakes the Clown is the depressed, alcoholic clown in a movie written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.  Like many of the other clowns and mimes in this movie, Shakes is concerned with his status as a performer, especially in the context of the clown subculture.  When he’s not performing at birthday parties, Shakes is usually getting drunk.

Krusty the Clown – The Simpsons Movie


Just about every Simpsons character you can think of made it into the Simpsons movie, and Krusty is no exception.  Krusty is somewhat of a tragic figure; you can tell that the years and years of pressure for him to be entertaining have really taken their toll on him.  He’s maybe the one clown on this list that isn’t terrifying, but when you think about all thedrinking and smoking he’s done, he’s not exactly kid-friendly, either.

Captain Spaulding – House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects


Captain Spaulding appears in two Rob Zombie movies, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.  He takes his role as a clown pretty seriously, as he’s quick to attack anyone who happens to disrespect clowns.  Captain Spaulding is the leader of the Firefly clan and the “dad” of this family of serial killers.

The Joker – Batman


Ledger’s Joker had makeup and was even called a clown by some, but Nicholson’s Joker was much more clown-like in my opinion.  In addition to the more traditional makeup job, he had bright, colorful suits and an array of comedic weapons, like the ol’ hand buzzer.

The Violator – Spawn


In his true form. the Violator is a demon from Hell, but he spends most of his time on Earth in the form of a short, fat clown.  He is set on putting Al Simmons/Spawn on the path of evil so that he may serve his master, The Devil.

Any clowns I missed?  Any clowns that used to scare the crap out of you?  Let me know.

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  1. personally the most memorable clowns for me were the ones from pee-wee’s big adventure. both the robotic one he chains his bike too and then the one’s from his nightmare

    those frightened me more than any other clown when i was little

  2. Good list. I also loved Bill Murray as a clown in Quick Change.

    Stay away from Clown House. That movie is all sorts of Awful.
    On second thought.., watch it.

    It would make me feel better.

  3. Pennywise would top this list for me, too. Tim Curry can do creepy REALLY well. They are supposed to be making another version of “It” that more closely follows the book. If that is the case, it could be even scarier than that miniseries. That is the only book that ever actually gave me an impending sense of terror.

  4. If I had only seen the title of this list, then Pennywise definitely would have been the first for me as well. Although the clown that Pee Wee chains his bike to, is a close second, not nearly as terrifying though. When “It” came out, let’s just say that I never looked at storm drainers the same way for quite some time. Mardi Gras wasn’t fun after seeing that mini-series, keep in mind that I’m 25, so that was a long time ago. Come to think of it, even sink and shower drains became very scary to me.

    If they really are planning to remake IT, then it better be good. I would hate for it to be bad and leave a poor mark on a classic. I have yet to read the book, although it’s one that I plan to read. And I know that people sometimes dislike movies because they don’t follow the book all that well, but follow or not, this movie was pretty horrifying at the time.

    Bye the way, I really liked the mentioning of Killer Klowns and Shakes the Clown. I’m not sure that many people knew about those movies. I could be wrong though.

  5. @ Metallimetal

    The Pee-Wee clown is great, I probably should have included him. He’s performing “surgery” on Pee-Wee’s bike, and then rips away his mask to reveal his smiling clown mouth. Pretty scary (but no Large Marge).

    I feel like anyone who has seen Killer Klowns will remember it. It’s about as weird as a movie can be.

  6. my 10 favorite are
    1-Stephen King’s It
    2-The Dark Knight/Batman
    5-Drive Thru
    6-Killer Klowns from Outter Space
    8-The Devil’s Reject
    9-Billy Madison
    10-Problem Child(the scene where Michael Richards punches a Clown)

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