Apple TV has this cool channel - Trailers. You can literally watch hours worth of movies a couple of minutes at a time. It's awesome. I can waste an entire afternoon watching the best parts of movies packed with action, emotion and suspense, and skip all of the bad endings, boring interludes and crappy acting.
A few weeks ago I was trolling the Trailer channel for moviefest candidates when I came across a clip for the movie "Clown." How had I missed this 2014 film? And more important, what was I to do with this pivotal moment? Anybody who knows me will tell you that there are two things that terrify me. Clowns and . . . well, let's just leave it at clowns for now.
Hey but I'm not alone, fear of clowns is a thing. It has to be a thing because there is a name for it. Coulrophobia. Look it up. Just don't try to find it in the DSM or ICD because coulrophobia isn't a recognized diagnosis, medically speaking. Maybe it is a made-up phobia for something that isn't terribly uncommon. And there is a lot of research out there to back up this clown-phobia thing if you Google it. The most interesting to me are studies documenting that kids universally don't like clowns, and usually fear them. Clowns are made for kids and kids don't like them. Weird.
So why the widespread clown fear? Maybe it's because clowns are made to have exaggerated features that hide their true emotions. Painted on smile, big funny nose, straggly hair, bald head or weird hat. Features that are kind of identifiable but just distorted enough to be disturbing.
Even clowns that aren't meant to be scary are still . . . not right.
Or maybe it is the way clowns are portrayed in movies and television. Ask a person why they don't like clowns and they'll probably reach back to some event in their past, a movie or a clown in costume based on a movie. How many films portray clowns as scary, supernatural or evil? Some of my favorites have made it into top ten lists floating around the internet. Poltergeist, It, American Horror Story, and Rob Zombie's twisted tales brought to life (or death) in House of 1000 Corpses and the Devil's Rejects.
Rob Zombie's clown development is twisted, to say the least. It makes me love his music even more.
At the time of its original 1982 release, I thought Poltergeist was the scariest movie I had ever seen. The opening clown scene set the tone early in the film, making the harmless clown look extra scary by the light of a threatening storm. Foreboding. Predicting disaster. As in get rid of the stupid clown before it shows its evilness and attacks you. But movie kids never listen to the audience, they can't hear us.
I didn't like the Poltergeist clown from the beginning. And while I'm pretty sure that was Spielberg's intent, I sort of blame it on the fact that that the clown was a dead ringer (ha!) for a decorative clown my mother gave me as a kid. It was some crafty doll that a co-worker was selling and in the light of day, it was sort of cute. But at night, I swear that thing moved. The kind of inanimate toy movement that only happens at night when everybody else is asleep and you have no defense other than hiding under the covers. (I had a paper doll on my dresser that moved at night, too. It never occurred to me to just, you know, get rid of it or put it in the drawer. Kids.)
When Stephen King's novel, "It," was made into a TV movie, Tim Curry took Pennywise the clown to a whole new level of evil, terrorizing a group of kids into their adult years and taking fans with him. And there's the Joker of the Batman genre, who got creepier with every iteration. But I have to say that the scariest clown I've seen in film (which includes made for TV) is found in the Freakshow season of American Horror Story. This evil clown is so disturbingly creepy that I couldn't finish the series. And I love American Horror Story. And who can forget real-life clown, John Wayne Gacy, a psychopath that developed his own clown character, Pogo, after he joined a clown club known as the Jolly Jokers. A clown club. Talk about wrong. Gacy was a serial killer whose biography is represented in the movie "Killer Clown." That fact alone is enough to put a person off clowns forever.
Anyway, back to me and the Trailer with channel with this hideous clown face staring at me from a movie poster . . . daring me to watch. It was daytime in the summer so not the middle of the night with everyone asleep, or worse, nobody else at home. So I watched it and I decided it had to go on the moviefestlist.
I know what you're thinking. I've added a clown movie to this year's line-up so the cardinal rules of Halloween décor have changed. The answer is NO. The cardinal rule being, no matter how many displays we set up... with fog and lights and sound, ghosts and phantoms and macabre guests, graveyards with jack o'lanterns, skeletons, witches, reapers and the undead; snarling hounds and haunted children, a giant ghost bride, the mysterious disappearance of Ghost Guy last season; 12 dozen hand-decorated Halloween cupcakes, a no-show headless horseman; and new this year, the fear theatre with a gargoyle.
No matter how over the top these displays might seem . . . No Clowns!!
I opted to purchase the movie because it was only a few bucks more to buy the disc than to stream it. The movie arrived the other day with a cover that was even more disturbing in my hands than it was on the television. And now that I own it, and I'm currently waiting for the official moviefest season to screen this one, I was forced to hide the package away so it can't come after me in the night.
And I will watch the movie with company. Because only two things scare me Clowns and . . .