John Wayne Gacy may well have been the original “scary clown.”
Throughout the 1970s, the Chicago-area pedophile, sadist, and serial killer notoriously dressed up as a circus-themed character named Pogo the Clown at children’s parties and charity functions. All the while, Gacy was secretly raping and murdering dozens of boys and young men and storing their bodies beneath his home.
In 1980, Illinois convicted Gacy for 33 murders and executed him by lethal injection in 1994. Thus, he’s not around to witness the current wave of “creepy clown” sightings and popularity of Pennywise that Pogo arguably wrought.
For anyone intrigued by Gacy’s sordid saga of red rubber noses, floppy shoes, and human cruelty at its most heinous, though, a number of movies based on the case exist from which to choose.
To learn more about John Wayne Gacy, watch Investigation Discovery’s The Killer Clown on Tuesday, October, 31, at 8/7c!
To Catch a Killer (1992)
To Catch a Killer focuses on Lieutenant Joe Kozenczak, a Des Plaines, Illinois, investigator who had to outwit both John Wayne Gacy’s skill in deception as well as the killer’s reputation as an upstanding member of the community. The adversaries’s cat-and-mouse games are as intense as the truth about Gacy is chilling.
Brian Dennehy brings fearsome, formidable power to the role of Gacy in this four-hour, two-part made-for-TV drama, which properly earned him an Emmy nomination. Dennehy is matched in intensity, though, by Michael Riley as Kozenczak. The entire production is top-notch and highly recommended.
With the direct-to-DVD quickie Gacy, plus-sized cult character actor Mark Holton added the “Killer Clown” to his roster of memorable roles that include Francis in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Chubby in the Teen Wolf movies. He looks the part.
8213: Gacy House is a “mockbuster” from The Asylum, a studio that specializes in intentionally confusing cash-ins such as Snakes on a Train (2005) and Paranormal Entity (2009). In fact, 8213 is a loose sequel to Paranormal Entity timed for its release to coincide with the big-screen hit Paranormal Activity 2 (2010).
8213 follows supernatural researchers as they spend a night in 8213 Summerdale Terrace, the address where John Wayne Gacy did his most notorious slaughtering. You’re better off with Snakes on a Train.
Based on the 1999 nonfiction book The Last Victim by Jason Moss about the author’s correspondence and eventual jailhouse meetings with John Wayne Gacy, the Canadian TV movie Dear Mr. Gacy stars Jesse Moss (no relation) as the writer and the always impressive William Forsythe (Boardwalk Empire, The Devil’s Rejects) as Gacy. Their relationship, to put it mildly, turns sick.
Most interestingly, Dear Mr. Gacy ends with an interview with the actual Jason Moss in which he says he got a degree in criminology and wrote the book that inspired the film. Afterward, we are informed that Moss committed suicide in 2006.
Dahmer vs. Gacy is a poverty-budget horror-comedy trafficking in intentionally “offensive” humor and ludicrously exaggerated gore. DNA experiments bring both Milwaukee cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer (Ford Austin) and John Wayne Gacy (Randal Malone) back to life, and the notorious slayers erupt on the public anew in a battle to see who can be the ultimate gross-out murder monster. Take that as a recommendation or a warning, depending on your own taste (or lack thereof).