Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English


It (1990)

This is the movie based upon the 1989 Stephen King book that might have started the whole evil clown phenomenon. It is the story of a group of misfit children in Derry, Maine, facing evil one summer in the form of Pennywise the Clown, who has already killed one character¹s younger brother and haunts the others in various terrifying forms.

But It is also the story of the same children 30 years later or so, when Pennywise (whom they apparently vanquished in their youth but don¹t remember how) rises. The clown torments the adult and child versions of the characters emotionally, mentally and physically ­ “With both barrels it was Pennywise,” Harry Anderson’s character says after Tim Curry’s Pennywise has played mind games with him at the public library ­ as they struggle to survive. Pennywise/It is ultimately revealed to be a large spider-alien creature/ancient evil that has plagued Derry for centuries.Almost certainly the most well-known evil clown (save for Batman¹s archnemesis, the Joker; more on him later), Pennywise is modeled after real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy, aka Pogo the Clown, a.k.a. “The Clown Killer.” Gacy was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing 33 boys in 1980; he posed as a clown while doing so.

Pennywise just might be the most recognizable figure in the Stephen King universe, short of Cujo and the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.

Evil Clown Films