*Editor’s Note: Billy “Bloody Bill” Pon is the writer/director of the extreme clown-themed horror flick Circus of the Dead. Last week, we announced that Dread would be re-releasing Circus of the Dead next month (on VOD and, for the first time ever, on Blu-ray). Read more about the re-release and pre-order your copy of Circus of the Dead by following the link below.
If your favorite clown didn’t make my list don’t feel bad. I really haven’t watched many clown films before making Circus of the Dead because I was afraid of outside influence. I’ve received some friends’ clown horror films including Kill Giggles, Clownado, and Clown Town to name a few. I haven’t watched these yet because I don’t have a DVD or Blu-ray hooked up these days. Whomp whomp…
10. Clown Doll from Poltergeist
Saw this film as a kid and it scared the Hell out of me. That’s the epitome of a great scene in a film that lives on forever and forever. We need more late 70’s early 80’s made movies. People took time and had real skill for filmmaking and entertaining the audience. Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist and I’ve heard he kind of didn’t on the same hand because of cocaine and booze. I’d love to be a fly on that wall back then. The fact that they pulled off what I think is a classic horror standard under the circumstances is freaking amazing!
9. The Clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space
The Chiodo Brothers made a forever fan favorite with 1988’s Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I’ll nominate all the clowns for this list. Are they scary? Maybe not but this is the film I introduce my grandkids to horror with. They’ve all loved it and watch it all the time. They should do a sequel someday if willing. Maybe there’s too much red tape and someone else owns the rights? Nevertheless, I’d kill to see a new one with my grandkids!
8. Mervo the Clown from Blood Harvest
Hell to the yes… Tiny Tim as the very weird and creepy “Mervo the Clown” in Blood Harvest… This movie must’ve been indie or at least it felt like it was. It’s not going to win an Oscar but it’s one of those movies that stuck to my ribs like good gravy as a kid. Those type of movies and the imprint they made on my filmmaking DNA is priceless to me. I mean come on, it’s Tiny Tim as a clown? What the fuck more do you want!
7. Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story: Freak Show
I have a deep-seated hatred for AHS… Every season I get worked up and excited only to be let down after a handful of episodes. John Carroll Lynch is another one of those actors I’d kill to work with. He is a bad mother fucker and has some serious chops. I almost feel bad he and so many get typecast as killers or background characters. He should be a star as far as I’m concerned. “Twisty the Clown” in AHS: Freak Show started off with a bang and held strong for a while. That character in the hands of someone that loves horror and horror stories and not 90210 could have knocked a home run with Twisty in a solo stand-alone HORROR film!
6. Doom-Head from 31
First off… I know, I know, “He ain’t no fucking clown”. For my list he’s going to be a fucking clown! “Doom-head” from Rob Zombie’s 31… He’s on this list because I love Richard Brake so much and this is the role that made me pay attention to him as an actor. He reminds me of Bill Oberst Jr. in the sense that he’s an extraordinary actor and I’d give my right arm to work with him someday. That opening monologue was epic and a real showcase to the type of actor Brake is.
5. Pennywise from IT (2017)
You know what? Bill Skarsgård is a badass! He faced the challenge of following the great Tim Curry as “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” in Andy Muschietti’s IT and IT: Chapter Two and I dare say: He did great. Any faults with the film don’t reflect on Bill and his performance. I enjoyed the two films… Part 1 a little more. This is a modern classic that will grow on you a little bit. I know, WTF Bloody Bill? Hollywood horror sucks! Yes, I know. I also know they could’ve really messed this up. Look at other reboots… swing and a miss they did. But regardless I think Bill Skarsgård was really damn good!
4. Pennywise from IT (1990)
I chose “Pennywise” from 1990’s TV mini-series IT because, frankly, Tim Curry is a freaking God in this role. In fact, take him and his performance out and we would never talk about the film. How many “clowns” scenes try to capture or borrow what he brought to that character? Go ahead, I’ll wait… He was the quintessential scary clown for decades. Only recently being challenged by other clowns. But my point is I’m pretty damn sure some part of every clown horror film since was inspired someway by the original Pennywise the Clown. The shameful part is that it was a “made for TV” movie in 1990 and had the production quality of a school play. Mr. Curry, given an actual movie to perform in, would’ve been the end-all, be-all. In fact, right now I’m going to build a time machine and go back and right this wrong for all of humanity!
3. Gurdy the Clown from 100 Tears
100 Tears was directed by Marcus Koch who supervised the FX on my film, Circus of the Dead. He told me while we were working together that he has a clown film I should check out sometime. Well at the time (and even before) I tried to avoid any and every clown movie that was out there. I wanted no influence to affect me while I was making my clown film. I kind of wished I’d watched 100 Tears before I filmed because it gave me a better idea of what Marcus was capable of SFX wise. “Gurdy the Clown” is a dirty mother fucker and this film is brutal. I love the word brutal when it describes a horror film. Horror should be brutal and mean. Marcus, like me, picked a great person to play his clown… Jack Amos was a flawless choice. Certain people make better clowns than others. Jack like, Rusty Edwards from Circus of the Dead, just had that look of a great clown in the making!
2. Art the Clown from Terrifier
If you know me you know everyone seems to think I have a beef with “Art the Clown” and Terrifier. Well, truth be told, I do! It’s pretty fucking stellar. Now before you start yelling at me let me explain. I know it’s not a flawless movie. A couple of bumps here and there story-wise. But “Art the Clown” was so damn good that you forget about most everything else and you can’t get enough of this guy. Art the Clown is “once in a lifetime” or “lightning in a bottle” for a film. We put Freddy, Jason & Michael on pedestals and treat them like horror Gods while we sit quietly and let them make bad movie after bad movie sequel-wise. They were good films (the first ones) but they were full of flaws too. Except for the original Halloween. That thing is pretty flawless if you ask me. Art the Clown is the newest icon and rightfully so. The mere sight of his presence warrants a “WTF!” Damian Leone knocked the FX outta the park. The woman upside down and sawed in half made me stand up and applaud out loud. That brings me to the actor that played Art the Clown, David Howard Thorton. Believe it or not, I’ve been following this guy since the Myspace days when he was a Joker cosplayer. He was on my Top 5 indie actors to play Papa Corn the Clown in Circus of the Dead. So knowing Damien saw him as Art was a genius call on his part. I’ll work with David someday in a movie but I’d never let him play another clown for me because–how the hell do you top Art the Fucking Clown?
1. Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses
My number one clown is a no brainer. It’s the clown, the character, the actor that inspired me to start my 2nd Haunt in 2004 (“The Circus of the Dead: Murder Maze”) and make the fake trailer and eventually my first feature film. “Johnny Lee Johns”, “Cutter” or his God-given name “Captain Spaulding”. I went to the theaters and watched Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses when it first came out. So began my adoration and hero worship for one Mr. Sid Haig. Captain Spaulding’s personality was real to me. Like a pervy uncle or grandpa. Someone from my own family. Spaulding was like a regular dude (serial killer) but wore clown make-up for his day job. Loved that a killer could actually be allowed to act and read lines as opposed to just being a killer lurking in the shadows. That was what Circus of the Dead was based on. What if being a clown was just someone’s day job? I was so excited to meet him for the first time at Texas Frightmare Weekend; I approached him in the lobby (not knowing proper convention etiquette) and said, “You’re one of my all-time favorite horror actors.” He replied, “Calm down, Sparky… I’m here all weekend!” Once I got to meet him at his table the next day he remembered me because I apologized for being a dick. I got a photo op with him in his Spaulding make-up and he looked at me after the look I made in the photo and said, “Boy, you just ain’t right” and laughed. Fast forward a couple of years and we were both guests at a Horror Convention in Chicago. He approached me while I was at breakfast and to my surprise sat down at my table and joined me. He even called me Bloody Bill… Sid mother fuckin’ Haig called me “Bloody Bill”… life made!