The recent sightings of clowns at two apartment complexes in Greenville County have led to international media coverage, but the sightings are not the first of this type, and one theory is that the latest ones could be connected to promotion for an upcoming film.
Clowns have allegedly been spotted over the past two weeks at Emerald Commons on Whitehorse Road and at Fleetwood Manor. Both children and adults have reported seeing clowns near wooded areas. The Greenville County Sheriff’s Department has investigated and increased patrols in those areas, but deputies said they have not seen anyone in clown clothing.
Clown sightings have been in the news in the U.S. and around the world over the last few years.
In 2014, multiple creepy clown sightings were reported in several cities across the country, including Bakersfield, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Fishers, Indiana and Jacksonville, Florida.
The most recently reported sightings outside of Greenville County were on Aug. 4 in Greenbay, Wisconsin, where residents said they saw a clown at about 2 a.m. Police said they got a few calls about the clown, but they couldn’t do anything about it because the person wasn’t doing anything illegal.
One of the first clown sightings to gain international media attention was in Northampton, U.K. in 2013. The Northampton Chronicle & Echo eventually solved the mystery of the clown that briefly terrorized the town when it divulged that the “clown” was 22-year-old Alex Powell, a local film maker who released the documentary “The Local Clown” four months before the first sighting there.
One theory about the sightings in Greenville County is that they could be connected with marketing for the upcoming Rob Zombie film “31,” set to open in select theaters on Sept. 1. The promotional poster is a scary clown in whiteface makeup that looks similar to images being shared on social media, allegedly from local sightings.
In Rob Zombie’s crowdfunded film, five carnival workers are kidnapped the night before Halloween and held hostage in a large compound as they try to survive a game called 31, while they evade murderers dressed as clowns who attack and torture them over the course of 12 hours.
WYFF News 4 called and emailed the film production company for comment, but did not get a response.
In 1999, the Blair Witch Project movie was the first to use a viral internet promotional campaign often referred to as “guerrilla marketing.”
No matter what’s the origin of the creepy clown sightings, they play off a common fear, sometimes referred to as coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.