2016 was a big year for evil clowns with a spate of sightings across the globe that some claimed reached epidemic proportions; of course, the phenomenon peaked around Halloween and died down soon after. Still, 2017 looks to be another good year for evil clowns. Most notably, we’ve got Andrés Muschietti’s IT featuring Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise to look forward to this September, but we’re also anticipating Bill Moseley’s turn as a child-eater in Crepitus this October, and local Green Bay anti-celebrity Gags the Clown is also getting his own feature film.
Not that there’s any shortage of scary clown movies; since the 1990’s miniseries based on IT, we’ve seen Stitches, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Killjoy, House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects, Circus of the Dead, The Last Circus, Amusement, All Hallows Eve, Clown, and too many more to name. What’s perhaps the scariest clown movie ever made, however, is already over 40-years old, but has never been released. What’s more, it may never see the light of day.
The Day the Clown Cried wasn’t made as a horror movie; it was only after the film was completed and screened for producers that anyone realized how terrifying it actually was. The Day the Clown Cried was intended to be a rare foray into drama for iconic comedian Jerry Lewis, who starred, produced, and directed the film; instead, it became one of the actor’s greatest shames. Since completion in 1972, the film has been locked away, where it has become the stuff of legend. Rumors of illegal midnight screening and leaked outtakes are all over the internet, but finding a complete version of the film in any form has proven impossible.
So what’s so horrifying about The Day the Clown Died? How about a happy clown unironically leading children into gas chambers in a WWII Nazi concentration camp? Yup, we’re talking about the world’s first (and to date only) feel-good Holocaust movie! Per Variety: All of this, according to the legend of “The Day the Clown Cried,” should leave us with a single, profound thought that echoes through the chasm of our souls: WTF was he thinking? (Source)
Adding to the film’s infamy is a quote from an article actor Harry Shearer wrote for Spy Magazine in 1992 (after supposedly viewing a bootlegged copy at a private party):
“With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. “Oh My God!”—that’s all you can say.” (Source)
You can get into the nitty gritty details of this beautiful abomination in the 30-minute documentary below from BBC South. Below that, you can check out some rare footage of Lewis talking about his inspirations for The Day the Clown Cried back in 1972. Have a look and let us know what you think in the Comments section!
Official Synopsis: A circus clown is imprisoned by the Nazis and goes with Jewish children to their deaths.