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updated: 9/14/2017 10:29 PM

5 weird and creepy movie clowns with the 'IT' factor

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  • Video: "Poltergeist" clown scene

  • The title character drinks and hunts down mimes in the definitely-not-for-kids film "Shakes The Clown."

    The title character drinks and hunts down mimes in the definitely-not-for-kids film "Shakes The Clown."

  • Aliens find a creepy way to attract food in "Killer Klowns From Outer Space."

    Aliens find a creepy way to attract food in "Killer Klowns From Outer Space."

 
 

Now that Bill Skarsgård's sinister demon clown Pennywise has made the horror film "IT" an instant box office smash ($123 million during its opening weekend), it's time for a look at other notable clown characters who've popped up on the silver screen.

1. "Poltergeist" (1982) -- No clown can be more frightening than the stuffed clown figure in the dark bedroom of Robbie (Oliver Robins). The scene takes the trite "don't look under the bed" premise to a scarifying new level.

2. "Killer Klowns From Outer Space" (1988) -- Bloodthirsty aliens land in a small town, don clown outfits and set up a big tent to attract human snacks. Cheap but effective exploitation of clown fear, also known as coulrophobia.

3. "Body Heat" (1981) -- After William Hurt's corrupt attorney murders Kathleen Turner's husband, the lawyer spots a creepy clown on a bike riding past him. It's a clever piece of foreshadowing: The attorney later becomes Kathy's clown, metaphorically speaking.

4. "Shakes the Clown" (1992) -- The "Citizen Kane" of alcoholic clown comedies. More bizarre than scary or funny, Bobcat Goldthwait's Shakes hangs out at the Twisted Balloon pub when he's not out hunting mimes (look for Robin Williams' mime instructor) to beat up on the streets of Palookaville.

5. "Octopussy" (1983) -- The Worst Movie Clown Award goes to the late Roger Moore, whose James Bond dons a dowdy clown disguise to escape pursuing West German police, who apparently can be fooled by a pretty silly clown face.

Have others you think are worthy of mentioning in the weeks before Halloween? Email me at dgire@dailyherald.com.

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