'It' author Stephen King on Carolina clown sightings: 'I suspect it's a kind of low-level hysteria'

Horror master Stephen King can understand the panic caused by a recent rash of reported clown sightings in the Carolinas better than most.

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King penned the 1986 horror classic "It," about a demonic clown named Pennywise who terrorizes children in Maine.

In an article published by The Bangor Daily News Thursday, King said the fears he drew from to create Pennywise were again at play in the Carolina cases.

"I suspect it's a kind of low-level hysteria, like Slender Man, or the so-called Bunny Man, who purportedly lurked in Fairfax County, Virginia, wearing a white hood with long ears and attacking people with a hatchet or an axe," King told the Bangor Daily News. "The clown furor will pass, as these things do, but it will come back, because under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying."

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Residents in a handful of North Carolina cities have in recent weeks reported seeing people dressed as clowns lurking in the woods. Police in Greensboro, South Carolina, have also fielded reports of clowns attempting to lure children into wooded areas.

Authorities have arrested at least one person accused of faking a clown sighting. None of the reports have been substantiated by investigators.

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Actor "Lon Chaney said (or is reputed to have said), 'There's nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight.' Meaning, I suppose, a clown seen outside of its normal milieu, in the circus or at the fair," King told the Daily News. "If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I'd be scared, too."

According to the newspaper, it's not the first time that clown scares have struck in the United States. In the 1980s, hysteria over phantom clowns prompted investigations in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Arizona, among other places.

Authorities continue to investigate the Carolina clown sightings.

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