“Can’t sleep, clown will eat me.” -Bart Simpson, The Simpsons, Episode 4.10 Lisa’s First Word Few things inspire such universal joy, loathing, and terror as a clown and, depending on what stage in your life you’re at really seems to determine which camp you fall in. During grade school I loved watching Bozo the Clown laugh, cavort, and be ridiculous every morning before I left for school. In fact, it wasn’t until a chainsaw wielding clown scared that youthful innocence out of my body shortly before high school that I really learned to fear and despise those brightly painted buffoons for the monsters they so rightly are. Now, as Clownpocalypse 2016 grips the nation with over sensationalized accounts online of people in clown costumes doing everything from luring children into the woods to cloning Adolf Hitler, I thought it was time to do a Beautiful Creature’s review of some of the most horrific clowns on film. Think of it as the good, the bad, and the ugly of painted freaky monsters. Coulrophobes beware, you’re not going to enjoy this. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) How can I not start with this late 80’s B sci-fi/horror/comedy? I mean it has everything you could ever hope for and so much more. Featuring a young Christopher Titus in his very first theatrical role accompanied by Royal Dano and John Vernon (all in minor roles) this quirky, low budget monster flick is ludicrously formulaic in its makeup. From the dueling 20-something protagonists and their leading lady love interest to the crotchety, teenager hating cop, and a duo of idiot ice cream salesmen sprinkled in for comic relief, Killer Klowns takes us to a small college town being invaded by, well, killer clowns from outer space. Strange lights lead to the arrival of a mysterious carnival and a parade of cartoonish clowns with cotton candy cannons and popcorn guns slaughtering their way through the population. Wrapping their victims in candy shells and spotted balloon cocoons, they begin to preserve their harvest for later consumption. The clowns are a grotesque, sometimes comical assembly of practical effects and animatronic suits that make them both lifelike and completely, hopelessly fake at the same time. Using their assortment of evil shadow puppet, balloon animal, jack in the box shenanigans, they lure in unsuspecting humans who have no idea that the colorful, laughable creatures parading through their streets are in fact flesh hungry monsters from another world. While most are fairly innocuous, there’s one clown in the terrifying circus that stands out as more menacing and frightening than any other and his name is Jumbo. As the name suggests, Jumbo is one of the larger clowns, though not as big as the epic, marionette-driven Clownzilla. No, I’m not making this stuff up. Clownzilla. Anyway, Jumbo is a larger clown in a blue and purple striped jumper with tufts of green hair like horns on the top of his pear-shaped head. What makes Jumbo particularly unsettling is the calm, creepy demeanor in which he operates, sitting outside a burger joint at night on a toy horse waving and motioning for a little girl to come out and join him. Clowns go to a whole different level of creepy when they start giving off those pedo-vibes. His best moment, though, is when he turns the teenager hating officer Mooney into a meat puppet who sits on his lap and talks to the protagonists before the clown’s oversized white hand slides out of the dead cop’s back. It’s not really scary (unless your coulrophobic) but it certainly has some strange, wonderful moments. IT (199o) Stephen King or Tim Curry on their own can make you feel anything from mildly unsettled to outright terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought so it stands to reason that together they can come up with a way to ruin childhoods and leave you sleeping with the lights on for years to come. And that’s exactly what they did in the two-part made for television movie IT. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, the ancient, malevolent, soul stealing, child mutilating spider monster in disguise taught us to laugh, to love, and to dream. No, wait, I’m sorry, that must have been the way that my mind overwrote the actual memory. In truth, Pennywise only taught us that we all float (when we’re dead in a sewer) and that the only thing worse than a clown with an accent is a clown with an accent hiding in your shower drain. Even writing that made me shiver. The story is classic Stephen King, a five mile long list of characters spread out across three decades flashing back to those precious Stand By Me 60’s childhood years to the late 80’s early 90’s broken adult stage of life and back again as our heroes are forced to relive the trauma of battling an otherworldly clown beast dwelling in the sewers below their home town. To me, one of the most unsettling things was the fact that Pennywise and Bozo both looked so similar from the neck up. I mean, sure, comparing the two is like comparing a fun childhood party to a terrifying trip into Ted Bundy’s basement, but there were some similarities to be sure. On second thought, never mind. Bozo may be scarier. Anyway, getting back on track. Tim Curry personifies our worst fears about clowns; the longing, unsettling look behind a painted smile that hints at a wicked monster hiding inside. He appears when you least expect him, bringing horrific gags and psychological trauma as distractions to the murderous, flesh hungry monster he hides inside. It goes back to the major fear that I think everyone has about clowns. Here you have a grown man in colorful clothes and a big, goofy smile who is specifically targeting himself towards children. The image of the clown goes hand in hand with our deepest fears of pedophilia and child murder not to mention defying everything our parents ever told us about not trusting strangers. Clown (2014) I promised you the good, the bad, and the ugly and it doesn’t get much uglier than Eli Roth’s Clown. For starters, look at the name attached to that title. Eli Roth. Just hearing his name makes my skin crawl after I watched the original Cabin Fever among other cinematic offerings he has brought to us since the late 90’s. Clown is a slow burn, a classic horror that starts out with characterization and tone and slowly builds both suspense and grotesque horror. The plot goes something like this: Kent McCoy, a local realtor and loving father, working on a property on the morning of his young son’s birthday finds out that the clown he hired for entertainment has been double booked. But never fear, super dad is here! Rummaging through the possessions of the dead man whose house he’s trying to sell, he finds and dons a classic clown costume and transforms himself into Dummo the clown for his son’s amusement. But that’s where the fun ends. The costume won’t come off. Gradually, the suit begins mutating his body, turning him into the living embodiment of the cloyne, a Nordic, child-eating demon monster upon whom all clowns in human history are based. Struggling to maintain his humanity while being assaulted by the monstrous changes to his body and appetite, Kent tries and fails to kill himself to stop the monster inside from devouring the adorable little neighbor child and his own son. Ripping off noses, shooting himself in the head with a revolver –resulting in a rainbow spray of blood and brain-, flesh and bone warping and ripping into a horrific caricature of the classic clown image to match the evil brewing inside him, it’s really one of Roth’s best works in years. Fans of Aqua Teen Hunger Force will remember this premise from the late night adult cartoon’s episode The Clowning in which a wig mutates Carl into horrifically deformed circus act. But don’t expect any laughs from Clown, though. Despite a similar plot device, the end result is far more gruesome and horrifying. Like I said, if you don’t like clowns, you’re going to hate these movies. But if you’re looking for something twisted and fun, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, IT, and Clown make for some monster movie fun that can’t be beat. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.