Clowns are supposed to be innocent, playful creatures engaged to entertain children, yet many people have an instinctive dislike for them, and still others have an actual fear, known as coulrophobia, that can lead to dizziness, nausea and even panic attacks in their presence. Furthermore, you’re quite as likely to see a clown at a haunted house as you are at a circus, television show or children’s party. Exactly why is that?
Just as we know that the person behind the mask or evil makeup that we encounter at a haunted house is probably not as scary in person as they look, so do we perceive that the person behind the happy makeup may not actually be quite so friendly. In fact, the makeup could well be a cover for a truly sinister personality.
Convicted mass-murder John Wayne Gacey was said to be fond of masquerading as a clown, performing a children’s parties and hospitals. He once told investigators, “A clown can get away with anything.”
While today’s clowns appear innocuous and lighthearted – think Clarabel and Bozo, clowns of yesteryear were actually rather disturbed individuals. Joseph Grimaldi, said to be the first recognizable ancestor of the modern clown, was prone to bouts of depression and died a tragic, penniless alcoholic. His son was also an alcoholic clown who died at the age of 33.
Pierrot, another famous clown character invented by Jean-Gaspard Deburau was ever more sinister in nature. Deburau once killed a boy on the streets of Paris with a walking stick, allegedly for shouting insults at him.
Psychiatric studies point to the clown’s distorted features as being unseemly enough to instinctively frighten children. The over-sized mouth, red bulbous nose and exaggerated eyes are surely the stuff of nightmares, especially if your dreams are haunted by Picasso.
Whatever the reason, for most of us, clowns are an unsettling, and for some even downright terrifying experience. At Cutting Edge Haunted House in Fort Worth, we have some of the most horrific clowns in the world. They love to pop out when you least expect it, with leering, sneering, distorted evil grins. They’re all of your worst clown nightmares all rolled up in one garish bundle of impressionistic, paint-covered apparition. If you thought you had nightmares before, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!