The best of horror usually involves exploiting some type of phobia. Thus, movies like Arachnophobia and Eight-Legged Freaks proved particularly effective against those who have a deep-seeded fear of spiders. One of the most potent but lesser-known phobias is called coulrophobia, which is the fear of clowns. Horror filmmakers have taken advantage of this phobia in various movies, using clowns either as red herrings or as the actual antagonists.
Not helping matters is the fact that one of America’s most successful serial killers used clown makeup to attract children. This serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, Jr., was convicted of the serial assault and murder of at last 33 teenage boys and young men. These murders took place between 1972 and 1978. Gacy called his clown persona “Pogo the Clown.” The media, quick to capitalize on this, called the serial killer the “Killer Clown.”
The following is a top-five list of the clowns in horror movies. Although some of the movies themselves may not be all that great, it is their clowns and their distinctive makeup that make them ideal for disturbing even those who claim they do not have coulrophobia.