Thursday, October 1, 2009

Evil Clown Syndrome

Sorry D, just skip this one!

Whew! Had to get that off my chest, especially considering some of the images I'm going to be linking in this post.

Happy Shocktober! (lame, I know, but somehow apropos..)

So, October 1st is upon us and the Witching Hours have begun. The season gets into full swing tonight at midnight with Zombieland (my review late Friday/early Saturday). Paranormal Activity opens in Philly this weekend and I plan on seeing that next week-ish. Oh. And Trick 'r' Treat finally gets released on DVD. Can't wait for that, either.

But I'm tired of talking about those movies right now. I'm going to try an experiement and talk about different horror movies everyday for the next 31. Maybe not the most original idea, but something I've never attempted, before. Oh, I'll probably throw in a "Gayest Thing..." or a Marriage Equality post here and there. Hell, I may talk about Sci-Fi or TV, too -but those will be dual post days. My goal this month is to blog about my very favorite film genre every day, and discuss a different film or horror topic each day.

So, since I've got good ole Tim Curry as the most Evil Clown in the history of film up there, let's talk tonight about ECS (Evil Clown Syndrome). Clowns are strangely dichotomous in their iconic imagery. They are the only symbol that I can think of, which represents both laughter and terror. Clowns, fools and jesters have been around forever, making people laugh with their silly antics. But their usually exaggerated and surreal features just as often inspire tremendous fear. And when they are used to do so intentionally, the result is especially horrific.

Despite having a rather lame ending (in both the novel and the movie), Stephen King's It still managed to inspire terror in the hearts of coulrophobes around the world with Pennywise the Clown, one of the many manifestations of the "ancient evil" being lurking in the sewers beneath Castle Rock, Maine. Ridiculous giant spiders aside, Pennywise has undoubtedly become the first image people think of when you say "Evil Clown."

"You all taste so much better when you're afraid!" Indeed. And poor Tim Curry. A fine, fine actor and gifted comedian, best remembered for roles under which he wore tons of makeup. Yes, he's in the highly overrated Clue and the atrocious Steve Martin & Goldie Hawn remake of The Out of Towners. Conversely, he was brilliant as King Arthur in the original Broadway Cast of Spamalot (I know... don't bother pointing it out). But Film Geeks of my generation first knew Curry from this. See what I mean about the makeup?

Next on our Circus of Nightmares Clown Tour is a particularly nasty clown brought to us by Tobe Hooper via Steven Spielberg in an honestly creepy and original suburban ghost story by the name of Poltergeist:

I saw that movie with my sister (who, despite all my teasing, is the person with whom I will always prefer to see a movie, because we share the same eyes while watching them; one of our many unique connections) and we have both seen it so many times since, we can tell you what's happening from another room just by hearing the music in a dialog-less scene. I really should show it more love than I do.

Horror and Sci-Fi movies of the 1980's were all about physical effects - prosthetic make-up; multi-operator puppet servos; reverse processing and hour after hour spent in make-up. Perhaps the ultimate expression of those physical SFX was a very '80's Horror/Sci-Fi movie with an under-appreciated wry sense of humor, Killer Klowns From Outer Space:

What can I say? The '80's were weird.

Of course, the most recent Evil Clown to grace the Silver Screen won it's portrayer a (very sadly) posthumous (and well-deserved) Academy Award. Talk about icons... Let's hope it's another 20 years or more before anyone attempts this again:

Of course, professional clowns (and I know a few) think this is a horror movie (language NSFW):

The lady clown was LaWanda Page, Aunt Esther herself, in case you were wondering. And if have no idea who Aunt Esther and Ms Page were, you're so young I could cry...

There are plenty of other examples, but it's late, and I'm sure you get the idea. So, are you afraid of clowns? Do they merely creep you out or do they send shrieking and burying your head in your nearest friend's back? Or maybe you love them and have a huge collection that fills an entire room of your house. I always love your comments!

More horrors, anon.

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