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Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Reviews


Starring Tim Curry, Seth Green, Richard Thomas
Directed by John Campopiano and Christopher Griffiths
Written by John Campopiano and Gary Smart
Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

“I think a moment of fear is worth having if you can get something good out of it.” Stephen King

There I was, barely a teenager, dropped off at my grandmother’s house on Friday night. This was my preferred Friday night and had been for years – she let me watch all of the movies and shows my parents wouldn’t. We’d spend the weekend watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales from the Dark Side, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and any and all Stephen King, the latter of which was always my favorite. She gifted me my first King book, The Dark Half, and she also bought the IT mini-series double VHS because she knew I loved it so much. This purchase created a very specific Friday night ritual for me – get to Grammie’s, pop in IT and kick off a weekend of straight horror, card games, and lots and lots of snacks. Those weekends are literally my favorite memories from childhood, not to mention the most formative experiences of my emotional, creative, and professional life. 

PENNYWISE – THE STORY OF IT, the new documentary by directors John Campopiano and Chris Griffiths, maps the unfolding of what would become the inspiration for every child of the 80s’ ensuing fear of clowns. The IT mini-series was groundbreaking on so many levels, from concept, to quality, to the all-star cast, to the raw level of horror that was making its debut not in movie theaters, but right there in our living rooms. And now, we finally have a glimpse behind the monster curtain to see how this exquisitely terrifying magic all came together.

Featuring original cast members Richard Thomas (Bill Denbrough), Richard Masur (Stanley Uris), Tim Reid (Mike Hanlon), Dennis Christopher (Eddie Kaspbrak), Seth Green (Richie Tozier), Emily Perkins (young Beverly Marsh), Brandon Crane (young Ben Hanscom), Ben Heller (young Stanley), Marlon Taylor (young Mike), Adam Faraizl (young Eddie), Jarred Blancard (Henry Bowers), Chris Eastman (Belch), and Gabe Khouth (Patrick) share what it was like to not only work on such a landmark horror production – from rowdy behavior (according to Thomas, the adults were even rowdier than the kids), to pranks (Crane thought they were getting deported from Vancouver back to the states), to interacting with visionary sets and props, to what makes a Stephen King story, Stephen King – the relationships they all developed together, and the very real chemistry and friendships that were formed and felt, on-screen and off.

And of course, how they all felt about getting to work with the inimitable, international treasure, Tim Curry (Pennywise the Clown), who also graces the film with thoughts about style of direction, about creative freedom bringing what would become the stuff of our nightmares to life, and about the generation that he traumatized. “A lot of people told me that IT poisoned their childhood when they saw it on television, and I would always think, ‘You shouldn’t have been watching it.’” You’re not wrong, Mr. Curry, but imagine who we would have grown up to be had we not been traumatized by IT? Had we not grown up in a decade saturated with Stephen King books, films, and television series? Had we not read IT far, far too young to even comprehend the material? Our generation is who we are today, in a large part, because of Stephen King, and I will forever be grateful for that. For us – the real life Losers Club. This documentary is a love letter to not just the King himself, but to the culture, connections and chosen family we’ve all cultivated through his creations.

PENNYWISE – THE STORY OF IT (2022) will be available on Digital Download starting October 3rd, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 24th!

Jillian Kristina
Jillian Kristina blends her love of horror and magic to facilitate healing from the real horrors in the world. Stephen King's movies and books raised her; magic and the occult molded and healed her. Find her on Instagram @root_down, on Twitter @RootDownTarot, and through her website