When Was the First Scary Clown Movie Made?

Scary clowns have been a popular theme in horror movies for decades. But when was the first scary clown movie made? Let’s take a look at the history of this creepy cinematic subgenre.

The Birth of Scary Clowns

The first scary clown movie ever made was “The Man Who Laughs” in 1928. This silent film, directed by Paul Leni and produced by Universal Pictures, starred Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine, a disfigured man who becomes a circus performer with a grotesque permanent grin.

While not explicitly a horror film, “The Man Who Laughs” set the stage for future scary clown movies by introducing audiences to the idea of clowns as unsettling and even terrifying figures.

The Rise of Scary Clown Movies

It wasn’t until the 1980s that scary clown movies really took off. In 1982, Tobe Hooper’s “Poltergeist” featured an iconic scene in which a child is attacked by a toy clown that comes to life.

In 1986, Stephen King’s “It” was published, introducing readers to Pennywise the Dancing Clown, one of King’s most memorable and terrifying characters. The book was later adapted into a TV miniseries in 1990 and then remade as a feature film in 2017.

Other notable scary clown movies from the 1980s and beyond include “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” (1988), “Clownhouse” (1989), and “Stitches” (2012).

The Impact of Scary Clowns on Pop Culture

Scary clowns have become a staple of horror movies and Halloween costumes over the years. They’ve also had an impact on pop culture beyond just cinema.

In 2016, reports of creepy clowns appearing in public places and allegedly trying to lure children into the woods made headlines across the United States. While most of these reports turned out to be hoaxes or pranks, they fueled fears of clowns and even led some people to call for a boycott of the release of the “It” remake.

Despite this controversy, scary clown movies continue to be popular with horror fans. Whether you find them terrifying or just plain silly, one thing is for sure: clowns will never quite be the same again.


In conclusion, while “The Man Who Laughs” may have been the first movie to feature a scary clown, it was really the 1980s that cemented clowns as a staple of horror movies. From “It” to “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” scary clown movies have become a subgenre all their own. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying that clowns have become an enduring symbol of horror and Halloween.