In Conor McMahon’s Stitches, acclaimed British comedian Ross Noble plays Stitches Grindle, a hard-drinking mess of a clown whose destructive ways catch up with him at young Tom’s birthday party – leading to his accidental, violent death.
Six years later, Stitches returns from the dead to take revenge on the brats who put him six feet under… turning the tables on them as only a clown can.
In honor of Stitches hitting Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, April 2nd, we’ve decided to take a look back at cinema’s killer clowns through the years, and picked out a handful of our absolute favorites:
6) The Trio, CLOWNHOUSE (1989)
A trio of mental patients murder circus clowns, taking their guises to torment a young boy and his brothers (one played by a young Sam Rockwell) during a long night alone in their family home. A genuinely unsettling tale that delves deep into the psychology of coulrophobia (fear of clowns), CLOWNHOUSE was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at 1989’s Sundance Film Festival, but has since become infamous with the sex abuse case brought against director Victor Salva by its lead actor after its production.
5) Gurdy, 100 TEARS (2007)
Wronged by those who cared for him, a Pagliacci-esque circus clown goes on a murderous rampage through central Florida, carving his way through dozens of victims as a ragtag duo from a small-town tabloid attempt to stop him. While short on budget, 100 TEARS more than makes up for it with innovative locations (including Florida’s “freak retirement community”, Gibsonton) and jaw-dropping splatter – offering up nearly 50 of the most brazenly violent deaths in modern horror cinema. Directed by special effects maestro Marcus Koch, the cleaver-wielding Gurdy is worth tracking down, if only for the unbelievably bloody path he leaves in his wake.
4) Pogo, GACY (2003)
The story of the man responsible for modern society’s fear of clowns, John Wayne Gacy, is brought to terrifying life in this 2003 horror/biopic. Played with menacing skill by Mark Holton (best-known as Pee-Wee’s nemesis “Francis” in PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE), this dark, disturbing insight into Gacy and his alter-ego, birthday clown “Pogo”, is both horrifying and informative. Quickly dismissed as a cheap cash-in on the case, the direct-to-video film disappeared into obscurity shortly after its release, but is well-worth seeking out to learn more about America’s most notorious serial killer.
3) Captain Spaulding, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003) / THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005)
Patriarch of the murderous Firefly clan in Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, Captain Spaulding (played by beloved genre mainstay Sid Haig), is anything but funny. A grizzled old gas station attendant tired of the sane charade he’s forced to live, Spaulding – named after a Groucho Marx character – is a pistol-packing son of a bitch, violently threatening anyone who opposes him or his murderous family. The Captain’s short role in Zombie’s directorial debut was so memorable that he was expanded to a lead in the sequel – and threw actor Sid Haig back into the spotlight, re-igniting his career.
2) The Klowns, KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)
The Chiodo Brothers, famous for their stunning special effects works in everything from ERNEST SCARED STUPID to TEAM AMERICA; WORLD POLICE, rose to momentary superstardom with this brilliant horror/comedy featuring a gang of alien invaders using the guise of circus clowns to take over a small California town. Using everything from hypnotism to cotton candy-firing guns, the klowns themselves are masterpieces of traditional special effects brilliance that still thrill to this day. A sequel has been rumored for years, but unfortunately has yet to materialize.
1) Pennywise, STEPHEN KING’S IT (1990)
Thesp Tim Curry permanently shed his ROCKY HORROR persona with his 1990 turn as a demonic clown in Tommy Lee Wallace’s IT, an ABC miniseries that forever warped an entire generation of primetime-watching kids. Based loosely on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the tale follows a shape-shifting monster and his decades-long battle against a group of friends known as “The Losers’ Club.” Not afraid to maim or kill children, Pennywise struck a chord with kids the world over as a symbol of innocent gone horribly wrong. Popular when it first aired, the miniseries now has a well-deserved reputation with those who were first warped by it.
Realizing just how many murderous clowns there are out there, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer up a special mention to a few other films not covered here, including OUT OF THE DARK (1989), KILLJOY (2000), FEAR OF CLOWNS (2004), and DRIVE-THRU (2007). Sufferers of coulrophobia, beware!
Content by Guest Blogger: Alex Nemecek
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