Caulrophobia is the fear of clowns, informally anyways. For ages, films have used clowns mostly as the Devil incarnated. There are evil clowns, happy ones, clown dolls and jokers which get possessed and many such forms which filmmakers have explored time and again. I have seen many movies with clowns in them and have compiled a list of the best ones in no particular order.
1. Poltergeist (1982) – This one of the first feature films I saw as a kid and I still remember the clown doll in it. OMG, was I scared. This movie started my love for the horror genre and the clown doll had a major role to play in it. It was awesome how this whole scene was played out using darkness and shadows and sound.
Interesting Fact: The evil clown doll that terrorizes the young kid Robbie was born out of Spielberg’s own childhood fear of clowns. This clown is on display at the Planet Hollywood in Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas.
2. Poltergeist (2015) – The remake of the original Poltergeist saw the clown return with a more terrifying role. But since the movie was not as great as the one from 1982, it didn’t leave that much of an impact. I still consider it to be one of the better clown roles though.
Interesting fact: The clown doll was such a cult scene from the original that the crew decided to add a whole host of them in the remake.
3. Zombieland (2009) – The Zombieland clown scene is actually hilarious. It obviously is for our hero to come of age, get rid of his Caulrophobia and beat the hell out of the blood spewing Zombie clown.
Interesting fact: Jesse Eisenberg’s character is afraid of clowns. In real life, Eisenberg’s mother worked as a party clown.
4. It (1990) – This child killing clown in the TV mini series based on the book by Stephen King is one of the greatest characters ever. Though the series for short lived, this clown gave many a children Caulrophobia, including one of my very close friends.
Interesting Fact: Actors note that Tim Curry’s characterization of Pennywise the clown was so creepy and realistic that everyone avoided him during the filming.
5. The game (1997) – Thought this movie doesn’t have too much on the clown itself, there is this scene where Michael Douglas finds this clown doll in the same position as his father, who had committed suicide earlier. That whole scene was really well done and that clown doll does look creepy!
Interesting Fact: The scene where Douglas finds this life-size clown doll in his driveway was ranked #44 on Bravo’s list of The 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
6. The Simpsons (1989) – Krusty the clown is one of the main characters in this family cartoon about The Simpsons. He is like the alter ego of Homer and also that Bart loves this show on TV about this clown. But in reality, Krusty is a cynical chain smoker who is tired of showbiz!
Interesting fact: The character “Krusty the Clown” was inspired by a real-life TV kiddie show host named ‘Rusty Nails’ and Ronald McDonald, the mascot of the McDonald’s restaurant chain is a major influence behind Krusty the Clown.
7. Saw – Again, this is not exactly a clown but Billy the murderer doll is as creepy as they get. The scene where he comes on his cycle and says ‘Congratulations!’ is chilling for sure!
Interesting fact: James Wan the director of the movie, built the doll!
8. Batman (1989) – Jack Nicholson as the Joker is one of the most memorable clown roles according to me. His makeup is perfect and that smile, sinister. Even his normal smile is sort of evil, don’t you think?
Interesting fact: Jack Nicholson approved the joker’s makeup design before signing the contract. Another fact is that Robin Williams was offered the role and he refused. But the producers told Jack Nicholson that the role would go to Robin Williams if he didn’t accept. Robin Williams apparently was so angry that he didn’t work with the studio/producers till they apologized.
9. The Dark Knight (2008) – What can I say about Heath Ledger as the Joker? I don’t think anything can top this performance, he was absolutely brilliant. The darkness and craziness he got to the character is mind-blowing and that came from shutting himself in a room for a few weeks!
Interesting fact: The posthumous Oscar given to Heath Ledger is the only time that a comic book character has received an Oscar!
10. Suicide squad (2016) – Can Jared Leto beat Heath Ledger in the portrayal of the clown prince of evil? We will just have to wait and watch won’t we? Various media reports and articles show that Jared Leto is as much in the character as Heath Ledger was, maybe even too much!
Interesting fact: There is no evidence to suggest this but Heath Ledger’s death from an overdose could be linked to him ‘becoming the joker’ psychologically. Considering even 1% of this being true, the set of Suicide Squad had a therapist for the actors to consult the psychological effects of playing such dark and damaged characters.
What did you think of this list of the best clowns and jokers, first published here? Do write in if your favorites different.