Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the sinister, child-luring persona of Stephen King's IT, found a new lease on life in 2017 when Andy Muschietti's two part movie brought the nightmare of Derry, Maine, to a new generation of filmgoers. However, for those who were around three decades ago, the terror of Pennywise was realized in 1990 when Tim Curry portrayed the eater of worlds in a two part mini-series based on King's doorstop novel. Now a brand new Indiegogo-funded documentary, Pennywise: The Story of IT, about the making of original adaptation of IT is ready to premiere at The Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia on October 15th, promising the definitive behind the scenes look at the making of cult classic.
The feature length documentary is co-directed by John Campopiano, who has had a wealth of past experience including helming the recent Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, and Christopher Griffiths, who was responsible for the brilliant Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser, and has been brought together over a number of years. As well as interviews with King archivists and those very familiar with the novel, the film also includes interviews with many of the actors who appeared in the mini-series including Tim Curry, Seth Green, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Richard Masur, Emily Perkins, Tommy Lee Wallace, Larry D. Cohen, and more.
"We live in an era where adaptations of Stephen King's work have never been more prolific and culturally relevant," Campopiano said. "From the hugely successful 2017 and 2019 theatrical remakes of IT a nd Pet Sematary, the widely lauded sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, TV series Castle Rock, and the upcoming theatrical remake of his 1979 TV miniseries, Salem's Lot - this documentary is arriving at precisely the ideal moment."
IT is a book that spans a generation, interlacing "current day" events with memories of the main characters from 27 years ago, when as children they came together to defeat an entity they came to know as IT. An ancient evil lurking under the streets of Derry, Maine, IT takes many forms, feeding off the fear of those it ensnares, but it is the façade of Pennywise the Clown that becomes the face of the creature, and the fuel of nightmares that continue into the adulthood of the novel's protagonists. When they must once again regroup to take on the creature and defeat IT once and for all, not all of them will survive the experience.
The 1990 mini-series was filmed over three months early the same year and cost a reported $12 million, which was almost double the usual budget for a TV project at the time. Due to network Broadcast Standards and Practices in the early 90s, much of the horror was psychological, as there was a very strong restriction on the amount of blood and gore that could be shown. The mini-series pulled in a huge 30 million viewers for its two parts, and also received two Emmy nominations to boot. While critics were divided over the production, the endurance of Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise, who is still constantly appearing in top lists of scariest clowns and best King villains, speaks volumes about exactly how iconic the character and the legacy of IT are.