The Many Lives of Scary Clowns

Essays on Pennywise, Twisty, the Joker, Krusty and More


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About the Book

The frightening yet comic clown is one of the best and most enduring characters in literature, theater, television, and film. Across the centuries, from Shakespeare’s Porter in Macbeth to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Hop-Frog,” or Stephen King’s Pennywise, horror and comedy have blended to create the perfect recipe for entertainment. This volume gives an in-depth analysis of the clown horror genre, including essays by revered horror scholars such as Kevin Wetmore, Dale Bailey, Kim Hester Williams, Jennifer K. Cox, and Joanna Parypinski. Their essays cover topics such as nostalgia, race, class, and new portrayals of the scary clown as zombies or phantoms. It also offers interviews with actors and directors working in the clown horror genre: Eoghan McQuinn (Stitches), Kevin Kangas (Fear of Clowns), and Jaysen Buterin (Kill Giggles). Some of fiction’s most terrifying creations–like the Killer Klowns, Captain Spaulding, Art the Clown, Krusty, Frowny, the Joker, and Twisty–jig through these pages of analysis and deconstruction, asking what these many iterations of scary clowns have to say about our society and its fears.

About the Author(s)

Writer and actor Ron Riekki has won several screenplay awards including best sci-fi/fantasy from the International Family Film Festival, best comedy from the Los Angeles Film Awards and the Nuclear Pen Award from the GenreBlast Film Festival.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Ron Riekki

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 182
Bibliographic Info: bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8091-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4452-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Ron Riekki 1

Part One: Television and Film Clown Horror
A Clown in the Living Room: The Sinister Clown on Television
Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr. 15
Killer Klowns vs. the Blob: Klowning Around in the Generation Gap
Dale Bailey 35
Corpses, Rejects, Afterlives: Welcome to Zombieland
Jason V. Brock 49
“Art for Art’s Sake”: Art the Clown, Visuality, and the Cruelty of Allegoresis
Mattius Rischard 56
Clowns, Bogeymen, and the Anxiety of Strangers: Analyzing the Cautionary Elements of Jon Watts’ Clown (2014)
Debaditya Mukhopadhyay 74
Out of the White (Terror) and into the Black (Presence): Difference as Monstrous in Stephen King’s
It: Chapter Two
Kim Hester Williams 82

Part Two: ­Real-Life Clown Horror
The Return of the Killer Clowns: A Field Guide to Surviving the Zombie Clown Apocalypse
Jennifer K. Cox 99
The Transcendental Anonymity and Moral Ambiguity of Phantom Clowns
Joanna Parypinski 119
From Scream to Screen: “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy on Film
Benjamin Radford 132

Part Three: Interviews and Accounts
Interview with Kevin Kangas (Fear of Clowns, 2004)
Ron Riekki 145
Stitches (2012)
Eoghan McQuinn 152
Interview with Jaysen Buterin (Kill Giggles, 2020)
Ron Riekki 154

About the Contributors 159
Index 161

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Oddest Book Title of the Year—The Guardian’s Diagram Prize