There's no denying that ever since its publication, Stephen King's epic tale of kids vs. weird space clown It has been a firm favourite among horror fans. It's door stopping length is a testament to King's ability to weave a good yarn, and it's 1990 two-part tv movie adaptation is just as famous as the novel itself. Pennywise: The Story of It follows that 90s adaptation in this loving documentary.
What we get is archive footage from behind the scenes, never before seen on set interactions, photographs and talking heads from those involved. Now celebrating thirty-two years, and perhaps buoyed by the monster success of the big screen revamp, interest in this version is bigger than ever.
Given that there is nothing to gain from lying, the cast and crew are surprisingly candid about their feelings on the film. Director Tommy Lee Wallace in particular discusses how he thinks part one, focussing on the children is the stronger story than the adults, and screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen discuss their dissatisfaction with the schedule rush that meant Cohen didn't work on night two as much as the first.
The film looks at the melancholy that comes from the passage of time, that young actor Jonathan Brandis (young Bill) took his life at a young age and the visible pain many of his colleagues have thinking about him. The directors, John Campopiano and Chris Griffiths, back up anecdotes with comic-book-style illustrations of what the people are talking about when on-set footage is unavailable.
When discussing the cast of the film there's the obvious absence of Brandis, along with Harry Anderson (Adult Ritchie) and John Ritter (Adult Ben). It's also surprising that Annette O'Toole (Adult Beverly) is also absent from the film. Despite this, the rest of the surviving troupe sit down for candid, and often very funny interviews, none more so than Seth Green (young Ritchie) who admits to being a Tim Curry completist. Emily Perkins (young Beverly) recounts the anecdote of not knowing about the child orgy from the novel and being teased by the boys in the cast about it until she finally sat down to read it.
We also get touching moments like bully Henry Bowers actor Jarred Blancard discussing his tense relationship with his own father and how he felt closer to him after playing an abused bully, and his ongoing discomfort with playing a horrific racist in the film.
The ace in the hole though is Tim Curry, who for years has remains surprisingly reticent to discuss this of all his work. Here he recounts how he fought for a minimal amount of make-up to allow his performance to take over, to which make-up artists, and Wallace himself concur he was scarier in his performance than make-up could have ever been.
The film feels somewhat incomplete when it comes to talking about legacy, especially since King himself is not there to discuss his feelings on the film, as well as the new version of It. But even so, seeing the cast recant stories, and Wallace himself discuss the difficulty of making the giant spider ending work makes for an enduring tribute to one of television's scariest offerings.
This one floats too.
Pennywise: The Story of It will be available on Digital Download from 3rd October and Blu-ray & DVD from 24th October