“Clowns are funny,” Homer Simpson discovered as he envisioned his co-workers screaming in agony during a Springfield nuclear power plant fire on The Simpsons. But ever since Kramer admitted he was scared of clowns on Seinfeld, the guys with the rubber noses and flower-lapels that shoot water have taken on a more sinister sheen. Stephen King introduced the world to Pennywise, who floated throughout the novel, miniseries and film It. Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch), who was introduced on American Horror Story: Freak Show has since joined their Cult. Before all that, real life party clown John Wayne Gacy terrorized the country as one of America’s most prolific serial killers. On Halloween night, Investigation Discovery will examine his crimes on the one-hour special The Killer Clown.
“The scariest killer clown America has ever known wasn’t from outer space or a Stephen King novel,” reads the ID’s advance press.
“He was a small-town staple at children’s birthday parties who juggled his part-time clowning work with being a family man, successful businessman, and respected pillar of the community. But behind John Wayne Gacy’s silly circus act lurked a serial killer whose legacy became one of horror, not humor, when he was sentenced to death in 1980 for the murders of 33 young men.
“Gacy, also known as ‘Pogo the Clown,’ changed the way Americans saw clowns forever, and to this day his reign of terror still inspires popular culture on screen and in real life with people in creepy clown clothing popping up in small towns just to scare passersby.”
Before Gacy, the worst things we ever saw on TV about the circus favorites was when Mrs. C had to clean the tears of joy Howdy Doody’s Clarabell the Clown left all over her rug on Happy Days.
“The Killer Clown follows Gacy’s path from childhood to cold-blooded murderer,” reads the official synopsis.
“First-hand accounts from investigators and people who knew him best combine with dramatic re-enactments to bring his deception to life and terrify a new generation. Additional interviews with psychologists and criminal experts seek to uncover what may have driven Gacy down the path to murder. Gacy’s story is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre in modern criminal history. Beyond the façade, Gacy’s m.o. was to prowl the streets at night, luring hitchhikers and runaways back to his home in suburban Illinois, where he’d torture them to death and bury the bodies in a crawl space. It was only after extreme efforts by his sole surviving victim that police were led to Gacy and could connect him to the missing persons cases.”
He didn’t learn that at Clown College.
Discovery airs The Killer Clown on Halloween: Tuesday, October 31 at 8/7c.