Art the Clown in Terrifier 2

12 Best Clown Horror Movies To Set Off Your Coulrophobia

Send in the clowns!

Scary Clowns are one of the most iconic horror antagonists, which is fascinating as they are a relatively new phenomenon in the genre. Monster clowns are not only a case of the uncanny valley, but they’re also an interesting intersection of how horror and humor can work together to heighten one another. Here are 12 of the most iconic horror clown movies to make you laugh until you die.

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Joker (2017)

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)
(Warner Bros.)

While Joker is not explicitly a horror movie, it does feature some psychological horror elements, mostly with Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix) not being able to tell the difference between his reality and his delusions. In addition to being a spiritual successor to Taxi Driver, Todd Phillips’ film features many similarities to the slasher film Christmas Evil. Add in some scenes that evoke the real-world clown serial killer John Wayne Gacy and you’ve got a horror movie in spirit if not in practice.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Three killer klowns from outer space stand at the door holding a pizza box in 'Killer Klowns from Outer Space'.
(Trans World Entertainment)

These killer klowns aren’t just any old clowns, but aliens who turn their abductees into cotton candy. Stephen Chiodo’s 1988 film is a wonderful B-movie that’s mostly clowning around (I’m sorry), but does have a few moments of genuine horror (the police chief ventriloquist scene stuck with me). Can’t wait to see the upcoming video game.

Clown (2016)

Kent (Andy Powers) finds himself slowly transforming into a clown in 'Clown'.
(Dimension Films)

This film is one part demonic possession, one part monster clown movie, and 100% a horror movie that is not afraid to kill kids. After putting on a cursed clown costume for his son’s birthday, Kent McCoy (Andy Powers) finds himself transforming into a monster clown with an appetite for children. Is this an IT knockoff? Probably. Is it gory and still a decent clown horror movie? Yep. Clown was Jon Watts’ directorial debut, and he later went on to direct the Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy.

Terrifier 2, Terrifier, The 9th Circle, All Hallows Eve

Sienna (Lauren LaVera) and Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) stand next to each other in a Halloween store in a scene from Terrifier 2
(Bloody Disgusting)

I’ll be honest, Terrifier is not my thing. I found the films to be pretty misogynistic and ableist. However, I respect that many horror fans appreciate its unapologetic gore, with many likening Art the Clown to a live-action Looney Tunes character. I do think Terrifier 2 is better than the first movie, though the kills can still be very long and uncomfortable (the salt scene especially). However, if you can embrace the over-the-top gore and violence, you might enjoy this.

House of 1000 Corpses/The Devil’s Rejects

Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding, a clown in scary make-up in 'House of 1,000 Corpses'.
(Lionsgate Films)

Captain Spaulding’s lewd and crass manner will be grating to most who don’t vibe with Rob Zombie’s style, but that crude attitude, unique laugh, and his role as secret patriarch of the Firefly family all contribute to a highly memorable clown performance. I also appreciate the production design of his Tourist Trap, which catalogs the many real serial killers of American history.

Stitches (2012)

Ross Noble as Stitches the Clown holding fake skeleton in 'Stitches'.
(MPI Media Group/Signature Entertainment)

Ross Noble gives an excellent and underrated performance as Stitches the Clown. Stitches was a lackluster clown in life, but after being accidentally killed by a child’s prank, he returns six years later to take revenge, with some wonderfully comedic kills. The balloon head one is my personal favorite.

IT and IT Chapter 2

Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise in the 2017 Film Adaptation of Stephen King's IT
(Warner Bros.)

IT (2017) and IT Chapter 2 (2019) are two films that speak for themselves. Stephen King’s iconic Eldritch abomination, known commonly as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, leans into both humor and horror as he torments the children of Derry, Maine. When the Losers Club fights back, Pennywise flees, only to return with a vengeance 27 years later. 

And while these are the films that focus on killer clowns, there are plenty of films that capitalize on clown horror. Here are some of our picks:

Zombieland (Columbus faces off against a zombie clown at the climax of the first film) 

Cabin in the Woods (random killer clown kills a security guard)

Halloween (Michael Myers’ first mask is a clown mask)

Demonic Toys (Jack-Attack the Jack-in-the-Box)

Poltergeist (Toy clown)

SAW (Billy the Puppet has some clown-like features, mainly his face paint and laugh)

Also, let’s not forget the clown dream sequence from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, which scared countless kids.

(featured image: Bloody Disgusting)

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Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.