The scariest movie clowns prove that being a famous jester is not always fun and games. Knowing the difference between a truly evil clown and a party entertainer isn't always easy, however, because clowns are inherently creepy looking, despite - or because of - their colorful body paint, big shoes, whimsical clothes, and ridiculous hair.
Painted faces and striped pants aren't just entertaining costume elements - they're a way to disguise and distract from the evil thinking under the curly red wig. The pure evilness of creepy movie clowns will likely make any concerned parent or guardian reconsider hiring such an entertainer for their young child's birthday celebration. And sometimes, scary clowns appear in real life, perhaps inspired by their movie counterparts. But no real clown could be as terrifying as these fictional ones.
Who he is: Pennywise, AKA Pennywise the Dancing Clown, hails as the title creepy villain from Stephen King's IT and the horror movie franchise spawned by the novel.
What he does: A shape-shifter, terrorizer, and monstrously malicious manipulator, Pennywise uses his demonic powers to harvest and prey on the fears of the children in Derry, ME. He also sheds his pale white clown skin to peel back his entire face and literally eat the children alive.
Why he's uniquely scary: Pennywise is only one of the many repulsive forms IT takes. While stalking the residents of Derry, IT shifts into whatever is the most frightening thing to his prey. The character's clown form is simply meant to further petrify the children before IT dines on them, described as similar to "salting the meat."
Actor: Bill Skarsgård
Who he is: In Clown, when Kent McCoy hosts a birthday party for his son, a clown he hires as an entertainer doesn't show up, so he finds an old clown suit and plays the role himself. But after falling asleep in the clown get-up, he wakes up infused to the entire costume - wig, nose, and all. Kent goes as far as shredding his own skin in an attempt to remove the cursed suit, but it has attached itself to him for life.
What he does: Slowly going insane because he can't remove the horrible suit, Kent discovers that he has actually attached himself to the hair and skin of a demon called the "Clöyne." Once bound to the suit, Kent begins to succumb to insatiable hunger - for children. The demon must consume five of them before Kent can peel off the suit.
Why he's uniquely scary: Stuck in the demonic clown costume, Kent is forced to consume kids to quell the beast that has attached to his body. Kent tries to take his own life and eventually goes on a rampage, devouring all the kids he can find in his path. He's attached to a curse that demands he either slay or be slain.
Actor: Andy Powers
Who he is: Better known by his alias, Cutter, Captain Spaulding is a homicidal clown who achieves his infamous nickname after felling a man with a knife. Although a felonious and foul clown, he shows the dark bonds of family in the Rob Zombie franchise that includes The Devil's Rejects.
What he does: Captain Spaulding is the patriarch of the Firefly family, a group of evil freak show fugitives. Committing offenses and taking the blame for other family members' mishaps, Cutter covers up his deeds by posing as the leader of the roadside attraction Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen.
Why he's uniquely scary: This clown captain is not only lurking in the shadows of a haunting, roadside attraction, but he's also a ruthless slayer. He says his two loves are serial slaying and fried chicken. While the fried chicken part might not be so intimidating, the lust for serial slaying coupled with his thirsty illicit moonshine business will put a chill down any traveler's spine.
Actor: Sid Haig
Who he is: The Heads are a horrible cast of clowns who love to torment and play survival games with a group of carnival workers in the Rob Zombie film 31 (the title refers to the date of Halloween).
What he does: Taking their hostage affair to a Saw-like level, the clowns of 31 set up a game that taunts their prey to escape. The Heads terrorize and chase the captured carnies through a deadly maze, make bets on their progress, and slay those who fall behind.
Why he's uniquely scary: The Heads take captives knowing not a single one is bound to make it out alive. These clowns live for the thrill of the chase, harm, and eventual elimination of innocent people.