The 13th Floor

Look At This Freakin’ Clown! Indelible Clown Movie Moments

Coulrophobia.

noun
1. an abnormal fear of clowns.

A lot of people suffer from this above ailment. Thankfully, I am not one of them. But if you’re a horror fan and you suffer from a fear of clowns, then I can only imagine the combination of the two being complete nightmare fuel.

Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD is the new film by Jon Watts and producer Eli Roth CLOWN, which finds a loving father slowly morphing into a monstrous clown after finding a costume & putting it on to essentially save his kid’s birthday party. Only now that it’s on, he can’t take it off and it continues to consume his body and transform him into a real life living clown with an appetite for children’s flesh! OK, now that’s scary!

Every since seeing the film earlier this week, (which I highly recommend!) I’ve had cinematic clowns on the brain. Rather than showcase the “creepiest” or “scariest” clowns however, I wanted to do something a little bit different. So for me, these are the most indelible clown movie moments; scenes from films (horror and otherwise) that have always stood out to me and that I’ve never forgotten. Let’s take a look, shall we?

ZOMBIELAND

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The inspiration for the title of this piece! The 2009 zombie comedy from director Ruben Fleischer and DEADPOOL writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, features a lead character played by Jesse Eisenberg who suffers from Coulrophobia. It’s one of those random facts he mentions early on in the film that make you wonder why it’s there to begin with. And then in the tense finale, with his friends in peril, the one thing that stands between him and saving them is, of course, a freakin’ clown! In the actual scene (embedded below for your convenience) he actually says, “Oh my God. Look at this fucking clown.” And every time I see it, it makes me laugh out loud. For me, it’s the stand out moment of ZOMBIELAND!

UNCLE BUCK

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As I mentioned earlier, this wouldn’t be all horror movies, but memorable clowns! And for me, one of the funniest moments from John Hughes comedy classic UNCLE BUCK, starring the late, great John Candy, has to be when “Putta The Clown” shows up drunk to entertain a kids party. “Hey, you want to hear some good dildo joke?!” This is when Uncle Buck instructs him to get in his mouse and get the hell out of there. And when he doesn’t and continues to insult Buck, he deservingly gets punched in the face and his nose deflated. Still makes me laugh every time!

PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE

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I love PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I think all of us do, right? It’s one of those 80’s films I’d catch on cable regularly, and it’s a movie where I think I can recite just about every line of dialogue from. As a kid watching it, there were two moments in the movie that scared me. The first is the Large Marge scene. The second is that above screen grab! During one of Pee Wee’s nightmare dream sequences, he sees a group of doctors about to start operating on his beloved bike. One of them rips their surgical mask off to reveal a creepy clown visage underneath! This scares me more than most actual horror movie clowns!

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Now, this “character” is just awesome, although technically he’s more of a prop rather than a living, breathing being. In Richard Franklin’s 1991 sequel F/X 2, Rollie Tyler (Bryan Brown) has long since retired from his career as one of the best, most realistic FX artists in the movie business and instead concentrates on creating radical new toys. Among his creations is Bluey, the life size remote controlled clown prop! In one scene, Rollie is held up in his place at gun point by a hitman, when he manages to turn on Bluey, and start kicking the every loving crap out of his assailant using his giant sized contraption. Probably the most fun action set piece to involved a “clown” from any movie!

THE DARK KNIGHT

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OK, here’s a quickie. Obviously, Batman’s arch-nemesis the Joker is one of the most infamous and notorious clowns in history. While everyone has their favorites, I’m still in awe of Heath Ledger’s performance in THE DARK KNIGHT, but do you know which moment I find more disturbing than any other? The brief glimpse we get of the Joker without his make-up. I don’t know what it is, but this creeps me out more than any other Joker scene that’s been committed to film thus far.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE

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This one is a given. It also happens to be one of my absolute favorite “cult” films. Who better to deliver creepy alien clowns than the Chiodo Brothers? This was another title I’d often catch on cable in my budding horror-watching days. Two things really disturbed me about it. One – the scene where a clown is trying to lure a kid over while hiding a giant mallet behind his back. But for me, the most unforgettable and scariest moment is when one of the clowns uses John Vernon’s corpse as a talking hand puppet. Brrr… shivers, especially when he says, “we just want to kill you.”

POLTERGEIST

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Most kids are afraid of something being under their bed. And most kids are afraid of clowns. So when Tobe Hooper combined the two things for POLTERGEIST, he scarred a generation of us for life! Although, I kind of find the SCARY MOVIE version of this scene far more terrifying!

STEPHEN KING’S IT

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This one’s also a given. I mean, how many of you developed a fear of clowns from watching Tommy Lee Wallace’s TV mini-series of Stephen King’s IT? Confession – I taped this off TV when it aired, and I’d come home from school and watch the first segment with the kids just about every single day. In particular, I loved the finale when all the kids battled “It.” And I used to know every line of dialogue from that sequence by heart. (I could probably still pull it off if I dug deep into the recesses of my mind.) There’s something about seeing a group of kids that are about your age fighting evil and defeating it. For that, I will never forget the battle cry of “this is battery acid, you slime!” And with the new images of Pennywise recently surfacing for the upcoming theatrical version, I’m excited for the return of IT.

CLOWN

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Ah, the inspiration behind this article! It took a while for this film to finally come out in the States, but it’s behind-the-scenes story is just as fascinating as any movie narrative and I feel like it was worth the wait. Director Jon Watts and co-writer Christopher Ford has initially crafted a fictitious trailer for the CLOWN movie, similar to how MACHETE or HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN began their cinematic lives. The faux trailer sold it as “a new movie from Eli Roth.” Roth himself started getting congratulations from peers on what looked to them to be a winner of a horror movie. Surprised, he looked up the trailer, loved it and contacted the filmmakers about making the movie for real.

It took a few years, but it’s finally here, and what I love about it is it really strives to create a new mythology behind why people find clowns scary. What were the origins of the “clown?” Where did it all come from? A creature that feeds on children is a pretty horrific backstory to have, so when the main character starts turning into this monster, it’s the unfolding of a fascinating new horror legend for the audience. The stand out moment is when one young child is searching for his friend in the tunnels of an indoor play station and he comes face to face with the clown as he’s about to feed. (See above image.)

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