English Town Menaced by Staring, Northampton Clown
“When you’re down here with me, you’ll float too.”
-IT, Stephen King
US Fango readers can be forgiven for any unfamiliarity with the UK town of Northampton. An entirely unremarkable area that prospered in the 19th century as an industrial centre of the footwear industry, but has since been most notable as the home of writer Alan Moore, Northampton is on no one’s list of the top ten places to visit whilst holidaying in these green and pleasant isles. (For starters, it’s neither green nor particularly pleasant.)
But for horror fans, this might be about to change. Actor Lon Chaney Sr is often quoted as having said “There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight,” and in recent days, the residents of Northampton have been given the opportunity to test the truth of this quote for themselves. For an anonymous clown has taken to prowling the town’s streets at night. And as local newspaper the Northampton Herald and Post reported: “He doesn’t juggle. He doesn’t twist balloons into animal shapes. He just stares.”
Is this the latest in the long line of evil clowns? From Batman’s Joker to John Wayne Gacy to IT to Captain Spaulding from HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES/THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, the maniacal, murderous clown has long been a mainstay of pop culture, showing that Lon Chaney may well have been onto something. And whether Northampton’s own creepy clown is aware of Chaney’s quote or not, his resemblance to Stephen King’s Pennywise character has already been remarked upon, and given that his first recorded appearance was last week on Friday 13th, it seems entirely likely that the man behind the greasepaint may well be a mischievous genre fan himself, delighting in alarming the populace.
The clown’s aura of menace is perhaps slightly diminished by the fact that he has his own Facebook page (currently at 77, 131 likes); certainly it’s difficult to imagine Pennywise stalking the children of Derry via social media. But innocent prankster or not, some residents are not seeing the funny side. As one internet commenter put it, “This sicko is not funny and is giving clowns a bad reputation.” (Apparently he wasn’t familiar with Gacy and his conviction for thirty-three murders).
So will Northampton’s clown be driven off the streets by police and vigilante mobs? Or will he take his reign of terror to the town’s sewers and waterways a la Pennywise (like King’s Derry, Northampton is home to a large canal). For those brave enough to venture to the town in an attempt to spot the clown, he is promising a “big surprise” by the end of the week. But if you should see a pair of eyes staring at you from a sewer grate, just remember that everything floats down there…