Who better to weigh in on the harrowing news that evil clowns are terrorising the Carolinas than IT author Stephen King – the man whose creation Pennywise gave the whole world a case of chronic coulrophobia.
The spate of mysterious clown sightings first began in Greenville, South Carolina before spreading to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, including reports that some clowns attempted to lure children into the woods.
Is it the stuff of actual nightmares? Or an elaborate hoax with cheap Halloween masks? In an email to his hometown newspaper, the Bangor Daily News, King said it could simply be people’s imaginations getting the better of them.
“I suspect it’s a kind of low-level hysteria, like Slender Man,” he said, referencing the internet’s favourite child-snatching urban legend. “The clown furor will pass, as these things do, but it will come back, because under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying.”
He also gave some insight on how they originally inspired his clown-shaped monster Pennywise – played by Tim Curry in the 1990 adaptation of IT and soon to be played by Bill Skarsgard in the upcoming remake.
“I chose Pennywise the Clown as the face which the monster originally shows the kiddies because kids love clowns, but they also fear them; clowns with their white faces and red lips are so different and so grotesque compared to ‘normal’ people… Take a little kid to the circus and show him a clown, he’s more apt to scream with fear than laugh.”
And we can’t argue with that.
Hopefully the master of horror is right, and it is just a case of hysteria, not an army of supernatural clowns trying to drag children away.
But for now, if you do hear giant footsteps slapping away behind you, or the honking of a comedy nose, leg it.