Creepy clown sightings are making headlines yet again, instilling fear in the hearts of many unfortunate souls across the country. Whether spotted lurking in the woods, loitering around children’s play areas, or brazenly walking around public parking lots, clowns are downright spooky. It’s no surprise that sales of evil clown masks have skyrocketed in recent months, as more cities are seized with sightings of these unnerving symbols of terror.
As experts on all things creepy, spine-chilling and gruesome, The Horror Dome understands the panic-inducing hysteria that clowns have on our public consciousness. There is something inherently sinister about their warped grins, their manic joy and trickster behavior that makes us feel very uncomfortable. People of all ages have been creeped out by clowns long before Stephen King’s Pennywise came along, and frightening Bozo sightings have fueled this collective fear.
Clown sightings are no laughing matter
Psychologists say that clowns set off alarm bells in the human psyche. Their unruly appearance, painted faces, and weird behavior makes them unpredictable and therefore threatening. Clowns have historically been a bit mischievous, but thanks to “killer clown” John Wayne Gacy, who slayed 33 people in the early 1970’s, their reputation spiraled downward quickly. Many would lay blame on Stephen King’s famed novel “IT,” which sparked clusters of Pennywise appearances ever since it hit bookstores. Last year’s remake of the epic horror movie sparked a surge in evil clown sightings in cities both large and small.
Consider these sightings reported by various news outlets:
- The Wisconsin State Journal reports that two men, one of whom was dressed in a clown costume, scared some young children outside of Madison. Both were reportedly carrying knives.
- In Fargo, North Dakota, a creepy knife-wielding clown was purportedly spotted talking to children asking if they wanted to see a dead body.
- Police investigated claims made by a 12-year old in Pottsville, PA who says person dressed as a clown chased her through a park before disappearing in the woods.
- A group of scary clowns were spotted jumping in front of traffic in Brentwood, Long Island.
- A person in clown attire was caught on video holding on to a moving bus in Detroit. The incident gained widespread notoriety thanks to social media.
- In Phoenix, Arizona two fast food restaurants were robbed by suspects donning clown masks.
Whether pranks, hoaxes or publicity stunts, clown sightings come in waves, and often coincide with the Halloween season when spooks and hair-raising scares are part and parcel.
Movie-quality costumes for Halloween
Halloween is fast approaching. How will you instill terror and fear this October 31? From killer clown masks and ghastly zombies to flesh-eating ghouls, The Horror Dome has the best selection of professional Halloween costumes available. Our products are meticulously crafted by talented artists and are almost too realistic. Transform into the ultimate villain with our movie-quality masks, full-body costumes, wigs and accessories. You won’t find a more varied collection of monster feet, bloodied vampire hands or outsized clown shoes anywhere!
- Slate, The Wave of Evil Clown Sightings Is Nothing to Worry About. It Happens Every Few Years!
- Atlanta Journal Constitutional, Scary clown sightings make a comeback with a boost from social media
- Mic.com, Creepy Clown Sightings
There’s no denying humans love zombies. For years, they’ve battled vampires as our favorite brand of undead. Some say zombies, albeit in their staggeringly slow speed, are finally surpassing the likes of Lestat and Edward Cullen to reign supreme. After all, Zombieland (2009) was the first zombie flick to make more than $100 million and was the highest-grossing zombie film of all time– that is, until World War Z brought in $540 million from the Box Office in 2003. And while Season 8 of The Walking Dead dropped in viewership by 33%, there were still 11.4 million people tuning into the premiere. Last year, there were nine zombie series on TV, in fact, if you count “Game of Thrones” (we do) and nearly 200 zombie films produced from 2010-2018.
Here at The Horror Dome we’ve got plenty of zombie costumes that are terrifyingly hideous to contemplate – and a lot of fun to wear! Sometimes we wonder what this fascination with zombies says about us -- or says about you, for that matter!
Zombies Reflect the Horrors of Slavery
Today’s zombies bear little resemblance to their predecessors. “White Zombie” (1932) is considered the first feature-length zombie film -- based on a book, “The Magic Island” by William Seabrook. Not many modern renditions go way back to the historic roots of zombie folklore.
As a world traveler and journalist fascinated by the occult, Seabrook traveled to Haiti in the 1920s to study this mysterious voodoo Catholic missionaries hoped to stamp out. There he visited the Haitian American Sugar Company where he met four slaves. “The supposed zombies continued dumbly at work,” he recalled. “They were plodding like brutes, like automatons. The eyes were the worst… They were in truth like the eyes of a dead man, not blind but staring, unfocused, unseeing.” What he was referring to was the horrors of Industrialist American sweat shops operating in full swing at the turn of the Century.
The word “zombie” comes from nzambi, the Kongo word for “soul.” West Africans were carted to Haiti by the Spanish in the 1500s and the French in the 1600s. Much of our zombie folklore can be credited to Haitian voodoo, where it is believed those who died from unnatural causes linger at their graves, at which point they could be revived by a witch doctor who would keep the “zombi” in a bizarre state between life and death as a personal slave. For a dead guy, it could be a decent trade-off – a life of toil versus becoming worm food underground. Some zombies worked as healers. Others could feasibly be used to commit treacherous acts like murder.
In the early 1980s, Canadian Field Biologist Wade Davis traveled to Haiti in search of an alleged “zombie drug” that could bring people back from the dead. There were multiple reports of people appearing before family and friends years after their own funerals. Davis uncovered evidence of secret societies formed by escaped slaves who went on to stage successful revolts that would secure the land’s independence from French rule in 1804. These societies controlled specific territories and maintained order through the threat of “zombification,” a form of capital punishment worse than death, where individuals were stripped of their dignity, free will, and independence. Those who caused trouble for their families through thievery, abandonment of children, or other crimes were poisoned by fugu-fish (which caused them to appear dead), buried alive, later dug up by voodoo priests, and forced into slavery. When it comes to zombies, truth is stranger than fiction!
The Zombies Are Us
Why not just ask the master of zombie horror films, Night of the Living Dead Director George A. Romero, what he thinks about the staying power of the undead? “I… have always liked the monster within idea,” he once said. “I like the zombies being us. Zombies are the blue-collar monsters.” They’re the working stiffs. They’re the ones who never saw the virus coming, and now they’re just along for the ride. They’re not aware they’re zombies. They’re just caught up in the plight for survival. Who can’t relate to that?
He wanted to cast light on the way humans react, fail to react, or react stupidly. “I’m pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies,” he said, adding: “A zombie film is not fun without a bunch of stupid people running around and observing how they fail to handle the situation.” When you think about modern horrors – chemical warfare, superbugs, terrorist attacks – are we not similarly unprepared?
Over time, we note zombies progress from Romero’s comedic troupe of bumbling undead to a faster, scarier, post-9/11 brand of contagion like those in 28 Days Later. Older films focused on individual heroes with bleak outcomes, while newer versions look at how we might band together to defeat the plague. Often, this means, forsaking those you once loved (who are now “the enemy”) and embracing those who may be completely different from you, but are stuck in the same miserable situation. In a time marked by fears of mass migrations, this wave of social sympathy seems particularly relevant.
"Zombie movies all used to end, in that era [the 1960s], with that feeling of incredibly bleak hopelessness," explains Sarah Juliet Lauro, a zombie scholar at Clemson University. Now, she says, "The zombie 'ethos' has expanded into these kinds of live performances – zombie walks, zombie runs, humans-versus-zombie tag on college campuses. [The new millennium is] where zombies pivoted from being a tool of lamentation about a society we're stuck in to being a way of imagining our own mastery [as a group] over the worst."
Zombie Films Are A Cinematic Wonder – Violent, Gross, and Funny
As a genre, zombie films have a lot to offer viewers. They’re all violent, but some lean more toward gory, while others are more comedic. Cult classic “Dead Alive” (1992) by Peter Jackson was described as “the goriest film ever to be made.” To give you an idea – in one scene, lawn mowers plow down the undead at top speed, with blood and limbs splattering gallons upon gallons of blood and gore everywhere.
Day of the Dead has aged well, even by modern standards, with plenty of cringe-worthy moments where half-dissected zombies rise again and men are being ripped apart limb from limb. Tom Savini proved his mastery of special effects, without a doubt! From eye-gouging (Zombie Flesh Eaters, 1979), to pediatric cannibalism (Night of the Living Dead, 1968), to vomiting up entrails (City of the Living Dead, 1983), zombie films are as gross as they come. Did we mention they’re also campy and funny? From Evil Dead to Shaun of the Dead, this brand of zombie film is still thriving.
Get Your Zombie Costume and Zombie Animatronics from The Horror Dome
Maybe you like to imagine what you’d do in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. Would you be the Doomsday Prepper hero? Surely, you wouldn’t be one of those morons who leave their kids alone, fail to shoot the transforming zombies, and who run around screaming when they should be shooting. Or maybe you’re fascinated by the real-life historic ties to Voodoo and slavery. Perhaps you sympathize with these hapless ghouls. You might even recognize some of your coworkers or fellow commuters in the faces of zombies. Then again, it could just be that blood, guts, gore, and gooey skin scares you silly – and you love that.
No matter the reason, The Horror Dome has the goods on your zombie obsession, whether you’re looking for a frightful Halloween costume or animatronic zombies for a professional display. We won’t judge your love of zombies. We love them too!
Lots of further reading on all things zombie:
- Mental Floss – Memorable Quotes From George Romero
- Forbes – The Walking Dead’s Season 8 Premiere
- PSU – 10 Frustrating Things About Zombie Movies
- CNN – Vampire vs. Zombie Popularity
- Harvard Magazine – Zombie Files
- VOX – Zombie Political History
- Smithsonian Mag – Zombie Movies Are Never Really About Zombies
- Timeout – The Best Zombie Movies
- Flavorwire – Most Horrifying Zombie Death Scenes
The death of the man behind the iconic Bozo the Clown, Frank Avruch, earlier this year resurrected mixed feelings about this character worldwide. On the one hand, many people have fond memories, remembering his show which entertained legions of children for decades. For others – spurred by the near-simultaneous release of Stephen King’s blockbuster IT – all things clown seem evil and sinister.
So when did clowns cross over from goofy to grotesque? The scary-clown connoisseurs here at The Horror Dome weigh in.
“Terrifying” Clowns in History
Clowns are believed to originate in England, where they served as comic relief from the heart-pounding thrill of the daring circus acts. Their humor became broader; as clowns had more space to fill between acts, their movements and actions became more over-exaggerated. Clowning became tinged with dark undertones: French literary critic Edmond de Goncourt, writing in 1876, says, “[T]he 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 the courtyard of a lunatic asylum.”
The clown tradition crossed the Atlantic from to America, and in the late 1800's the circus exploded in popularity, expanding from one ring with a horse act to the three-ring touring spectacle we know today. While locations changed, the figure of the sad clown remained a fixture. Emmett Kelly was the most well-known “hobo” clown in the United States, and his “Weary Willie” stemmed from real-life tragedy of his divorce and the Great Depression.
Clowns had a resurgence in America with the popularity of television, which ushered in children’s entertainers like Bozo, Clarabell the Clown, Howdy Doody’s silent companion. In 1963, McDonald’s rolled out the jolly Ronald McDonald and he’s been at the forefront of the fast-food chain's brand ever since.
At this point clowns became known almost exclusively as children’s entertainers, and this expectation of goodness invited suspicions about their ulterior motives and what might be lurking underneath the face paint.
In a 2013 interview with Smithsonian magazine, author Andrew McConnell Stott explains: “Where there is mystery, it’s supposed there must be evil, so we think, ‘What are you hiding?’”
“We Need Both Bad and Good Clowns”
David Carlyon, a former clown with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and now a writer, believes that the fear of clowns — formally known as coulrophobia — is more of a recent development, arising alongside the counter-culture in the 1960s and becoming a cultural staple in the 1980s.
“There is no ancient fear of clowns,” he said. “It wasn’t like there was this panic rippling through Madison Square Garden as I walked up through the seats. Not at all.”
Benjamin Radford, author of the book “Bad Clowns”, does see a deeper historical root to the fear of clowns.
“It’s a mistake to ask when clowns turned bad because historically they were never really good," says Radford. "They’ve always had this deeply ambiguous character.”
Radford tracks a line of morally ambiguous clowns from ancient Greece to court jesters in the Middle Ages and Harlequins during the Renaissance. He points out that the much-loved Punch clown puppet in Britain, first emerging on the scene in the 16th century, beats his wife Judy with a club and is known for having a murderous bent.
Though opinions differ on the origin of evil clowns, Radford suggests that fun-loving clowns like Bozo, who just want to entertain and bring joy to people, are necessary to provide contrast to the evil clowns, and vice versa -- the good and the bad help to define each other.
Happy, Sad, Evil – Take Your Pick
The HorrorDome.com has quickly become one the leading online retailers in the haunted house and Halloween products industry. We carry an extensive range of products, including our unique lines of Halloween costumes, props, masks, and Animatronics. If you are in the market for a clown costume this Halloween or any time of the year, we have a wide variety from which to choose. Call or email us with any questions!
Additional resources on the scary clown phenomena:
- People.com, “Why are People So Scared of Clowns?”
- Business Insider, “Why People are Afraid of Clowns Explained,”
Every horror movie fan should attend at least one convention. While the temptation to bankrupt yourself will be great, a good horror convention will make you feel like you’re floating on a surreal cloud, starring in your own action-packed movie. When celebrating Halloween one day a year becomes too anticlimactic, up the ante and dive into your first convention for a special sort of thrill.
Each event offers a uniquely chilling experience, but you can expect Q&A interactions with famous filmmakers and actors, photo and autograph sessions, sneak peek movie screenings, merchandise exclusives, roving characters, cosplay parties, concerts, trivia contests, auctions, fashion shows, swanky parties, and maybe a zombie hunt if you’re lucky. By the end of the whirlwind weekend, most people agree it’s mingling with other fans and the buzz brewing in the air that has the most enduring impact.
Not sure where to begin? Your friends at Horror Dome recommend the following “best of the best” horror conventions.
Who: This year’s HorrorHound lineup includes big names like Lost Boys’ Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Zane, Bruce Campbell, Lance Henrikson, Lisa Loring (perhaps better known as “Wednesday Adams”), Judge Reinhold, Nick Castle (“Michael Myers”), Robert Englund (“Freddy Krueger”), and all the child actors from Stephen King’s “IT.”
What: The 2018 event packs in panels for Stephen King’s “IT,” Rob Zombie, “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” Shannen Doherty, “Mad Max 2,” “Cobra Kai,” “Evil Dead 2,” “Super Troopers,” and “The Last Starfighter,” among others. There are costume contests, live performances by Harley Poe, film premieres, a mask festival, and more!
Where: The JW Marriot Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana
When: August 24-26, 2018
Why: You can bank on a great selection of films from around the world, as well as meet-and-greets with some of the biggest names in the industry. Over the years, they’ve orchestrated one-of-a-kind events like Clive Barker’s personal screening of “Nightbreed: Uncut,” the only convention appearance from Jamie Lee Curtis, an original “Nightmare on Elm Street” cast tribute to Wes Craven, and the record for largest assembly of horror hosts in one place (to pay homage to Vampira!)
Who: Already slated for the next Texas Frightmare event are beloved icons Cassandra Peterson (“Elvira”) and Tim Curry (“Rocky Horror Picture Show” & the original “Pennywise the Clown”), as well as “Halloween 2018” stuntman James Jude Courtney. Kathleen Quinlan (“Event Horizon,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” and “Twilight Zone The Movie”) makes her convention debut. More surprises are to be announced, but past guests have included shock rocker Alice Cooper, horror writer Clive Barker, director George A. Romero, and the cast of “The Walking Dead.”
What: You can expect celebrity appearances and autograph signings, film screenings, exclusive parties, horror memorabilia from vendors worldwide, as well as sponsors like Arrow Video, Robert Elrod Monster Art, and Gore Magazine.
Where: Hyatt Regency at the Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas Airport
When: May 3-9, 2019
Why: Texas Frightmare is now in its 14th year and has grown to be one of the biggest conventions in the country. The number of celebrities drawn to each event is downright scary. Fans like that Texas Frightmare remains true to its “horror” roots – rather than branching out into fantasy action, sci-fi, or comic book films like so many other conventions.
Who: The 2019 Monsterpalooza lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but past guests have included Tobin Bell (“Jigsaw”), Cassandra Peterson (“Elvira”), Doug Bradley (“Pinhead”), the Chiodo Brothers (“Critters” & “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”), and Danny Trejo (“Machete”). In addition to well-known actors, you’ll see puppeteers like Bill Diamond, big names in makeup like Michael Westmore, and writer/directors like Tom Holland (“Fright Night,” “Child’s Play,” “Psycho II”).
What: View film props in the Monster Museum. Shop over 250 vendors. Check out a few advanced screenings and anniversary showings with directors and cast members of movies like “The Exorcist,” “Tremors,” and “An American Werewolf in London.” Meet artists from the last season of Syfy’s movie makeup series “Face-Off.”
Where: Pasadena Convention Center in Burbank, California
When: April 12-14, 2019
Why: If you love “the classic” movie monsters, you won’t want to miss the educational, behind-the-scenes focus of Monsterpalooza. See how the makeup is applied, creatures are designed by artists, and special effects are created by the engineers, while mingling with high-profile guests. If you can’t wait for the main event, you can check out “Son of Monsterpalooza” from September 14-16, 2018 at The Marriott Burbank Hotel & Convention Center for celebrity guests, costume contests, special exhibits, and over 150 vendors.
If you’re looking for the perfect get-up to wear at your next horror convention, look no further than The Horror Dome! We’ve got movie-caliber Halloween costumes that’ll stand out from the crowd. We’ve got Evil Dead masks, Night Terror costumes, zombies, killer clowns, stalk-around puppets, and more! Even if you just need some fairy wings or monster feet, we’ve got you covered.
- Wicked Horror, Why Every Horror Fan Should Attend At Least One Convention
- Screen Anarchy, Texas Frightmare 2018: Arrow Video Brings LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT Stars Jeramie Rain & Marc Sheffler to Promote New Blu-ray
- Visit Pasadena, Monsterpalooza 2018
As you would guess, there are a lot of horror movie fans at The Horror Dome. Though the battle rages as to what is the scariest film ever, there’s one flick that consistently ranks near the top; William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, The Exorcist. These days, Friedkin is re-examining the subject of demonic possession with a documentary, The Devil And Father Amorth. In this film, Friedkin witnesses an exorcism performed by the late Rev. Gabriele Amorth. Once the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, Amorth claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms. Though skeptics claim demonic possession is nothing but folklore, there are many tales of real-life exorcisms. Here are a few of the best:
Growing up devoutly Catholic in Bavaria, Anneliese Michel was a normal kid, until at the age of 16, she started blacking out and walking around in a trance-like state. Despite treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy, her symptoms worsened and she began hearing the voices of demons. Local priests performed over 67 exorcisms on Anneliese, and discovered she was possessed by the spirits of Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Adolf Hitler, and Nero. Despite the priests’ best efforts, Anneliese slowly stopped eating, and eventually died from malnutrition.
Elisabeth de Ranfaing
A widow, unsuccessfully courted by a physician later convicted of practicing magic (it was the 17th century, after all), Elisabeth de Ranfaing began exhibiting the symptoms of demonic possession and underwent multiple exorcisms in 1619. During these sessions she spoke fluently in languages she did not know (French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Italian), and seemed privy to secrets kept by those around her. When a priest made a mistake in his recital of an exorcism rite in Latin, she is said to have corrected him, and then mercilessly mocked him.
When Robbie’s aunt, and only real friend, suddenly passed away in 1949, he began using a Ouija board as an attempt to contact her in the afterlife. Though he never contacted his aunt, he apparently stoked the curiosity of numerous demons, who subsequently possessed the lonely young boy. From speaking in tongues, to becoming agitated and uneasy around religious symbols, and exhibiting superhuman strength, Robbie Mannheim showed all the classic signs of possession. At one point during an especially violent session, he yanked a metal spring out of his hospital bed and slashed the arm of his exorcist. After forced conversion to Catholicism, Robbe is said to have recovered, and went on to live a normal life.
In 1974, after a possible affair with the leader of his church group, Michael Taylor began acting erratically and felt a deep evil within him. It was decided he needed an exorcism. During an all-night ceremony conducted by an Anglican priest and a Methodist clergyman, it was determined that 40 demons (including those of incest, bestiality, blasphemy, and lewdness) had been cast out, yet 3 demons (insanity, murder, and violence) still remained. Michael returned home and murdered his wife with his bare hands. It’s a gruesome tale that goes to show the value of finishing what you started.
While no one wants to actually be possessed by a supernatural force, it can be fun to pretend, especially on Halloween. Browse a shockingly realistic selection of demonic masks from The Horror Dome, and find the perfect look to terrorize your neighborhood. These designs are so lifelike, you may find yourself tied down to a bed and being sprinkled with holy water.
Additional resources on demonic possession:
- NPR, 'Exorcist' Director Makes A New Movie About Exorcism (It's A Documentary),
- All That’s Interesting, Anneliese Michel And The Shocking Images From The Exorcism Of The Real Emily Rose
- CASE OF ANNELIESE MICHEL
- Wikipedia, Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c.
- Mysterious Universe, The Mysterious Exorcism of Robbe Mannheim
- Ghost Diaries, The Real Life Story Behind The Exorcist Is More Horrifying Than Movie
- Mysterious Universe, Demons and Death: The Strange Case of Michael Taylor