Pennywise, the titular monstrous being of Stephen King’s IT, remains one of the most iconic and feared villains in horror. Whether on the pages of the original novel or most recently performed on-screen by Bill Skarsgård, the child-eating creature is almost single-handedly responsible for coulrophobia. But it is Tim Curry’s celebrated performance in the 1990 TV adaptation that offered up the definitive portrayal of the grisly clown.
Chris Griffiths’ exhaustive, all-encompassing retrospective documentary Pennywise: The Story of IT looks at the production and legacy of the 1990 adaptation. Beginning as a crowdfunding project back in 2017, the film’s 5 years of production are felt in every aspect of this passionate doc. Leaving no stone unturned in looking at every aspect of the 1990 miniseries, Pennywise: The Story of IT is not only a fascinating study of its subject, but of the process of filmmaking and adapting books to the screen. The film is packed with incredible anecdotes – including the revelatory insights into who could have been Pennywise; Harvey Fierstein, Malcolm McDowell and Alice Cooper being among early choices.
On a technical level, Pennywise: The Story of IT doesn’t exactly do anything remarkable. The film almost feels like a DVD bonus feature, although one that is epic in scope and depth. Thankfully, though, the doc is loaded with archival footage and – most importantly – footage from the original miniseries itself. Too many of these fan-made documentaries fail to get permission to use original footage, and it is always jarring. Pennywise: The Story of IT is generously rammed with nostalgic scenes from the series that will take you right back to the terrifying first time you met Pennywise.
Pennywise: The Story of IT brings out all of the feelings that watching IT itself evokes. Frightening, funny, moving – the latter emotion primarily felt in a brief look at Jonathan Brandis’ blossoming career cut short by his tragic suicide at the age of 27. But the overall feeling of the film is one of celebration and love, for the film and for Stephen King’s horrifying creation.
This is a film made by fans, for fans. Pennywise: The Story of IT is a passionate love letter to the beloved adaptation that haunted countless childhoods.
PENNYWISE: THE STORY OF IT is available on Digital Download from 3rd October and Blu-ray & DVD from 24th October from Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment