If you secretly think all clowns are scary clowns, you’re not alone. Scary clowns are the new kings of horror. Even the most benevolent of these silly pranksters can be the stuff of nightmares for adults and kids alike. In the past couple of years an increasing number of random creepy clown sightings have been making headlines. The NY Times recently reported on the rash of South Carolina sightings that have citizens up in arms. Child psychiatrist Steven Schlozman, who teaches a course on the psychology of horror films at Harvard University explains why these jokesters can be so spine-chilling, “[A] clown’s exaggerated human features set off a primal warning bell from within our ‘crocodile brains’.”

Whether you need Halloween inspiration or just like a good scare, we’ve compiled a list of the most frightening clowns in history.

  1. Pennywise (both original and the remake)

The boogey man from Stephen King’s It is credited with inspiring an entire generation of kids with scary clown phobia in the eighties.