American Horror Story: Cult will feature a major clown storyline, but real-life clowns aren’t laughing. In the same week that the movie adaption of Stephen King’s It is set to terrorize coulrophobics, FX will also address clown phobia with the latest installment of Ryan Murphy’s anthology series.
AHS: Cult will feature the return of Freak Show’s killer clown Twisty, who was played by John Carroll Lynch in the series’ circus-themed season back in 2014. In Freak Show, the half-masked antagonist’s horrors became the twisted inspiration for Dandy’s (Finn Wittrock) killings, and for Cult, it appears that Twisty’s murderous actions became notorious enough to inspire a twisted fan following. The Cult trailer reveals that Twisty even has his own comic book in the present day setting of the hit horror anthology.
According to Entertainment Weekly, American Horror Story: Cult will be full of terrifying clown imagery due to Sarah Paulson’s character, Ally, who suffers from a crippling phobia of the signature circus stars. Ally’s mental state deteriorates in the wake of the 2016 presidential election as she confesses to her therapist (Cheyenne Jackson’s Dr. Rudy Vincent) that her fear of clowns has been getting worse.
Ahead of the season premiere, the Hollywood Reporter reviewed the first three episodes of American Horror Story: Cult, revealing that the new season will feature a gang of killer clowns and at least one clown comic book reader.
While it remains to be seen how Twisty will be incorporated into this insane clown posse, according to Lynch, his original role was so scary that even American Horror Story crew members were terrified when he was in character.
“I heard from Ryan that there are some people on the crew who are like, ‘I don’t want to be near that,'” the actor told Collider. “I’m glad people are afraid, and I hope that I’m contributing to their fear.”
But Lynch’s character is also contributing to the fear of real-life clowns. According to the Detroit Free Press, real-life members of the 2,500 strong World Clown Association are upset over the bad rap they are getting due to the negative portrayals of clowns on TV and in movies. Pam Moody, the president of the Michigan-based organization, is on a mission to educate the public about the fact that clowns aren’t supposed to be scary.
“The role of a clown persona, regardless of their style of clowning, is meant to bring joy and laughter, to bring humor to a hurting world,” Moody, whose alter ego is named Sparky, said.
“Clowns aren’t just about laughter. They’re about listening and caring.”
Moody revealed that professional clowns have been dealing with the fallout created by the TV version of It for nearly 30 years, after Tim Curry played the clown Pennywise in the terrifying 1990 TV miniseries. But Moody thinks the revival of It combined with American Horror Story: Cult and the headline-making 2016 clown sightings could spur a temporary a decline in business for real clowns, which is no laughing matter.
Here is some reaction to the clown-centric Cult.
Take a look at the scary clown imagery in American Horror Story: Cult’s Twisty motion comic below.
American Horror Story: Cult premieres Tuesday, September 5 on FX.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]