A fear of clowns is called coulrophobia (pronounced “coal-ruh-fow-bee-uh”), and can be a debilitating fear. I have a few friends who are terrified of clowns. They dont even like to be in the same room as a clown doll or toy and definitely never ever go to the circus. I often wonder if movies and books have attributed to peoples fear of clowns or maybe some past traumatic event. I know there have been urban legends of evil clown sightings in real life known as “phantom clowns”. First reported in 1981 in Brookline, Massachusetts, children said that men dressed up as clowns had attempted to lure them into a van. The panic spread throughout the US in the Midwest and Northeast. It resurfaced in 1985 in Phoenix, Arizona; in 1991 in West Orange, New Jersey; and 1995 in Honduras. Later sightings included Chicago, Illinois, in 2008. Explanations for the phenomenon have ranged from Stephen King‘s book It and the crimes of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, to fears influenced by Satanic ritual abuse. Their are also similarities to the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In most cases the reports were made by children, and no adults or police officers were able to confirm the sightings.
If you think about it clown makeup is pretty evil and demonic looking. And their behavior is sometimes violent and anti social which can make some people very uneasy.
There are images of the demented or deviant clown across popular culture, “Pogo the Clown” persona of the serial killer John Wayne Gacy; the obscene clowns of the neo-situationist Cacophony Society; the Joker (of Batman fame); the grotesque art of R.K. Sloane; the sick-funny Bobcat Goldthwait comedy Shakes the Clown; Scooby-Doo ‘s Ghost Clown from the episode “Bedlam in the Big Top”; and Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King‘s It. Clowns are also often depicted as murderous psychopaths at many haunted houses.
The Texas-based hard rock band Dangerous Toys, included an evil clown-type figure in its iconography, and album art. The 2009 comedy horror film Zombieland the character Columbus is forced to face his fear of clowns when he encounters a zombie clown. The 1989 film Clownhouse, concerns brothers who are attacked in their own home by escaped mental patients dressed as clowns.
Carnival of Souls (1998) The Clown at Midnight (1999) The horror film series Camp Blood, beginning with Camp Blood (1999), stars a killer clown as the main antagonist in each film. Fear of Clowns (2004) Drive-Thru (2007) Klown Kamp Massacre (2010) Gingerclown (2012) Sloppy the Psychotic (2012) The Last Circus (2010) by Álex de la Iglesia and on and on.
Lets not forget Punch the clown figure and his wife Judy which is a puppet show featuring Mr. Punch and his wife Judy which has its roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte. . The performance consists of a sequence of short scenes, each depicting an interaction between two characters, most typically Mr. Punch and one other character who usually falls victim to Punch’s violent slapstick. Some feel Punch and Judy shows glorify domestic violence.
A study by the University of Sheffield concluded “that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.” This may be because of the nature of clowns’ makeup hiding their faces, making them potential threats in disguise; I guess as a child I never looked at them as violent but funny with their slapstick comedy. I think that if all the other events concerning clowns from media to movies was in my environment as a child I may feel differently. Although i have to admit they are creepy looking.