Described by its author as the “most Dickensian of my books”, It is one of Stephen King’s longest novels. It’s also the work that introduced the world to Pennywise the dancing clown, for which horror fans are eternally grateful.
Published in 1986, the novel is over a thousand pages, so the story was never going to fit comfortably into a ninety-minute movie. Mindful of this, the makers of the 1990 miniseries (which starred Tim Curry as Pennywise) originally set out to make a four-part series before condensing it into two episodes.
The director of the 2017 remake is Andres Muschietti, who also directed Mama with Jessica Chastain, and he’s taken inspiration from the miniseries and split the story in two. Already given King’s blessing, the first part focuses on a group of kids who unite to stop Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) following a string of disappearances in their Maine hometown.
Before you see either version, here are ten things you need to know about horror’s most famous clown character.
10. He's Older Than The Universe
It was Stephen King’s eighteenth novel and the title is an apt name for the book’s antagonist, a creature of indeterminate age and gender with no fixed identity. Though Pennywise is the creature’s preferred form, his backstory is far more complex than your average horror icon.
Pennywise existed long before The Big Bang (the cosmological model for the universe, not the TV show…. although the It miniseries does predate it by 17 years) in a dimension known as the Macroverse. After crash landing on Earth, he entered a state of hibernation and awoke in early 18th century America to sustain himself on human victims before returning to his slumber.
He subsequently adopted a hibernation pattern that allowed him to wake and claim new victims roughly every 27 years. In the mid-18th Century, for instance, he was behind the disappearance of 300 settlers in Derry.