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Updated by StephYoungAuthor on Jan 22, 2018
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Why are Clowns so Terrifying?

Why are Clowns so Terrifying?
Their garish exaggerated facial features can transform them into the monster in the closet and other such archetypal creatures from our darkest nightmares, or even our reality, such as visitations from ghost-clowns...

Creepy Clowns, The Harlequin, Missing People, The Unexplained.

’The Harlequin was a thin, androgynous being….clearly not human:’ ..


Why are Clowns so terrifying?

Why are Clowns so terrifying?

The Smithsonian quotes French literary critic Edmond de Goncourt, who wrote in 1876, “The clown’s art is now rather terrifying and full of anxiety and apprehension. Their suicidal feats, their monstrous gesticulations and frenzied mimicry reminding one of a lunatic asylum.”

The less manic clowns, the staple troubled, sad, and tragic clown variety in the form of the tattered “hobo” homeless clowns were no less troubling to watch.

There are some horrifying claims, though not easily substantiated, that in the Middle Ages, jesters were mutilated if they failed to make the court laugh; their faces cut into a permanent smile by the removal of their muscles that would make frowns.

In contemporary times, Stephen King’s demon clown ‘Pennywise,’ Heath Ledger’s ‘The Joker’ in Batman and also ‘Punch and Judy’ as the henchmen of the Joker, DC Comics’ cloddish supervillains ‘Punch and Jewellee,’ and perhaps even the Insane Clown Posse’s grease-paint and their Dark Carnival performances, have all only solidified the fear of the unpredictable often frenzied persona of the murderous Clown or any other similar trickster characters, and this abiding fear lies in the soul of not just children but us adults too.

Fear of clowns and similar such disturbing characters is attributed by some to the “uncanny valley effect.” This is said to be the phenomenon where things that look human but aren’t quite, are as a result, deeply unsettling to the human psyche. Our reaction upon seeing such grotesque monsters is a dip in emotional response that occurs as we are confronted by such.

The term “uncanny valley” derives from robot maker Masahiro Mori, in 1970, who hypothesised that as robots grew more human in appearance and character, people would grow to accept them as more familiar when compared to earlier more mechanical and rudimentary models. However, the closer they became to human-like, the more disconcerted and uncomfortable people became and their responses of unease heightened.

Exaggerated postures and exaggerated facial features on human-like faces unsettle our subconscious, unnerve us with their unpredictability, and threaten us.

Perhaps the greatest fear from all of these archetypes is that their unnaturally fixed exaggerated and grotesquely frozen expressions make them so surreal, so nightmarish, and that these faces seem to hide their real nature… When the grease-paint is wiped off, what is left….?


Behind the Masquerade: The Harlequin: Part 1: (Volume 1)

Dan Mitchell "What you are about to read is a narrative detailing a mysterious figure I called the Harlequin. The Harlequin was a thin, androgynous being that presented itself to me on numerous occasions throughout my life, particularly during childhood. This being was clearly not human, and seemed to be stalking me my entire life. Instead of relegating these events to an over-active imagination, I decided to pursue them wholeheartedly. I have spent over twenty years now attempting to understand it the best I could.’

Cryptically, as in a Masquerade, there is more than just the mysterious Harlequin figure who makes its presence felt. There is a whole host of characters who appear in this story, and they all arrive in ways as disturbing as the Harlequin…. A parade of the hideous and grotesque and alarming, for we know not what they are…. Are they separate monsters….or all one and the same? And what do they want with Dan? ‘His skin was pale, his countenance was pallid. It felt as though he was feeding off of the fear and hysteria happening inside the house. He seemed to be alive, but wasn't. He was some type of revenant and I could sense that he was very dangerous.’

‘As she walked we noticed that her movements were very jerky. She seemed to notice us at that moment. With every step she took, she became jerkier, her hair seemed to bounce more violently. Once again my blood went cold. The feeling of unnerving eerieness fell over me. This time it was much worse. I was older and knew something was very wrong with what I was seeing. She began to walk toward my car. From only a few feet away I saw her clear as day through the passenger side window. From the back seat someone said, "Oh my God her eyes!"


Real-life Creepy Clowns

Real-life Creepy Clowns

As for the release of the 2017 Stephen King movie ‘IT,’ his clown is now depicted in classic Harlequin quality, with elegance of costume. ‘Pennywise’ has been described by theatre critics as ‘a harlequin-from-hell.’ Of course, in the fore-front of people’s psyche will always be John Wayne Gacy’s clown Pogo. Between 1972 and 1978 he sexually assaulted and killed more than 35 adolescent boys. When he went to entertain children and adolescents, dressed in his clown costume, what no-one knew was that he had already been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.


Creepy Clowns

Creepy Clowns

When the grease-paint is wiped off, what is left….?


Creepy Punch & Judy Show

Creepy Punch & Judy Show

Mr. Punch may beat his adversaries, even those closest to him, including beating his own baby to death in frequent scenes, but his ‘victory’ comes most when he defeats the very Devil himself.


The Harlequin Clown

The Harlequin Clown

Originally, the Herlequin’s face was covered with a black half-mask. Sometimes he wore a black stocking wound around the lower part of his face and then up over his head. He had once been hirsute though – early depictions show his face covered in thick dark hair, giving him the appearance of a feral creature from the forest. He wore a hat with either a rabbit or fox's tail, but now he wears what is more like a Jester’s hat, and usually he wears a red or black mask.

On stage he was a nimble, almost death-defying acrobat, whose stunts astounded and thrilled the audience. His character was that of a sharp, astute, but light-hearted servant, often intent on thwarting the plans of his master and others with cunning wit, resourcefulness, and his trickster qualities. He would have a direct interaction with the audience, involving them in his plans through gestures. His behaviour is inherited or inspired from the character of a mischievous devil in the older mediaeval passion plays. He tries to trick his masters, through plotting, but his plans would not usually work despite this. He carries a wand which is capable of magic.