Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me: The 8 Most Horrifying Pop Culture Clowns

Senior Pop Culture Editor
10.08.14 55 Comments

I’m getting one of my wisdom teeth pulled later today. I’ll be swimming in a sea of anesthesia when the ripping and cutting begins, and probably won’t feel a thing, but I’m still terrified because I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors. And yet, it’s not even the scariest thing I’ll experience today. No, that would be the season premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show and its wild menagerie of scary-ass clowns. It’s almost as if Ryan Murphy is going out of his way to make us hate him…

As long as we’re already peeing our baggy pants, straight into our comically oversized shoes, let’s count off some of the most horrifying clowns in pop culture history, beginning with…

1. Every clown from American Horror Story: Freak Show

Still not as sickening as the Homeland opening credits, but it’s close.

2. Crazy Clown from Clownhouse

The 1989 low-budget horror shlock Clownhouse is remembered for three reasons: 1) it’s Sam Rockwell’s on-screen debut, 2), director Victor Salva was sent to jail for molesting the film’s star, 12-year-old Nathan Forrest Winters, and 3) that clown, though.

3. Rapist Clown from Little House on the Prairie

You know Little House on the Prairie, the most inoffensive of inoffensive shows? Well, that’s true for every episode except one: season seven’s “Sylvia,” which follows a 15-year-old teenage girl who, while picking flowers in the woods, gets attacked and raped by a grown-man in a clown mask. Her father tells her to keep the “disgrace” quiet, which she does, until it’s revealed that she’s pregnant. The baby is never born, though, because the clown rapist attacks Sylvia again, except this time, she’s able to escape…until she falls off a ladder and dies. The moral of the story: there isn’t one.

4. Pennywise from It

Why do parents let their children watch It? It seems like everyone I’ve ever known saw the Stephen King miniseries at too young of a age (then again, even 87 is too young for It), and has been terrified of clowns since. You’re not Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry — you’re a monster.

5. Zombie Clown from Diary of the Dead

Zombie clown? Zombie clown.

6. Bart’s clown bed from The Simpsons

Can’t sleep, clown will eat me. Can’t sleep, clown will eat me. Can’t sleep, clown will eat me.

7. Clown Doll from Poltergeist

Poltergeist was directed by Tobe Hooper, who also worked on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I would rather hang out with a thousand Leatherfaces than a single evil clown doll.

8. Devil Clown from The Brave Little Toaster

Unlike It, The Brave Little Toaster is meant for children. Like It, The Brave Little Toaster is horrifying. Y’know that scene in Toy Story 3 where all our heroes accept their fate and are prepared to be burned alive? Well, The Brave Little Toaster did something similar.

Here’s the first verse from the final song in the movie, “Worthless”:

I can’t take this kind of pressure
I must confess one more dusty road
Would be just a road too long

It’s all about junkyard cars that are ready to die. Also, there’s a firefighter clown who threatens to throw the titular toaster in a bathtub full of water. Clowns are the worst.

Honorable Mention: the Joker

It’s tough to be scared of someone who loves Prince as much as he does.

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