Nobody likes clowns.
Oh sure, maybe people tolerated them in generations past, when the horrors of real life were such that ghoulish monstrosities actually could be considered entertaining. I guess anything's funny compared to bread lines and the Holocaust.
Today, only rodeo clowns get a pass, and that's because there's always the possibility they'll be gored/trampled by 3/4-ton of pissed-off bull. These other, more typical, inspirations for coulrophobia...not so much.
5. Insane Clown Posse
ICP are frightening for two reasons, and not the usual kind. First, their music is so mind-bogglingly bad it's hard to believe sentient human beings created it. Second, the fans (or "Juggalos") are what would results if science found a way to give stupidity flesh.
4. Cheezo, Bippo, and Dippo -- Clownhouse (1989)
Anyone who goes through the trouble of putting on greasepaint and a red rubber nose probably has...issues to begin with. Here they simply cut through the ambiguity and give us three certified lunatics behind the makeup. And if that wasn't creepy enough, director Victor Salva was eventually convicted for molesting then 12-year old star Nathan Forrest Winters.
Oh, and this is Sam Rockwell's movie debut.
3. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Finally, an honest interpretation. The theory that clowns are actually aliens hellbent on our destruction makes as much sense as inexplicably including them in a circus where they can horrify little kids.
2. Pennywise -- It (1990)
See above. Tim Curry's bravura performance is undercut somewhat by the climactic revelation that he was actually a goofy-ass spider all along.
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1. Robbie's under-the-bed clown -- Poltergeist (1982)
This was really where it all began. I'd experienced vague sensations of unease at the circus and whenever I'd caught glimpses of Bozo on old TV shows, but repeated viewings of Poltergeist on HBO during my junior-high days sealed the deal. No child of mine will ever own clown toys, and if yours does, you're a negligent monster of a parent.