After reports of scary clown sightings started surfacing in North Carolina and South Carolina this week, some suspected that it may be a publicity stunt for the new adaptation of Stephen King's IT, which is currently in production. Today we have confirmation that this rash of clown behavior has no connection to the movie, while Stephen King shares his thoughts on this new clown outbreak.
While it isn't illegal to dress up as a clown in either North Carolina or South Carolina, there have been a half-dozen reports of suspicious clown behavior in an area along the border of both states, which includes Greenville, South Carolina, Greensboro, North Carolina and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A family in Greenville said that they saw a clown try to lure their children into the woods, while a Greensboro man chased off another clown with a machete. The Bangor Daily News, the newspaper of Stephen King's hometown of Bangor, Maine, reached out to the author about this recent phenomena. Here's what he had to say.
"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. The clown furor will pass, as these things do, but it will come back, because under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying."
Production on IT is currently under way in Canada, far from these North and South Carolina sightings, but this isn't the first time creepy clown sightings have surfaced. There were numerous suspicious clown sightings in the 1980s in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Arizona and other locales, but they happened before the IT book was published in 1986. Here's what Stephen King had to say about IT and why he created Pennywise the Clown.
"When I wrote my novel IT, I set it in Bangor, because it's a town with a tough and violent history. I chose Pennywise the Clown as the face which the monster originally shows the kiddies because kids love clowns, but they also fear them; clowns with their white faces and red lips are so different and so grotesque compared to 'normal' people. Take a little kid to the circus and show him a clown, he's more apt to scream with fear than laugh. 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. 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."
It isn't known exactly what started this recent rash of clown sightings, but they have nothing to do with the movie IT. Bill Skarsgard is playing Pennywise, who terrorizes a group of kids known as The Losers Club. The movie that is shooting now will be the first part of this sprawling adaptation, with the second movie featuring adult versions of The Losers Club, who must reunite to take down Pennywise once and for all.