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Pennywise: The Story of IT Review

July 30, 2022 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Pennywise: The Story of IT Image Credit: Cinedigm
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Pennywise: The Story of IT Review  

Directed By: John Campopiano, Christopher Griffiths

Written by: John Campopiano, Gary Smart

Story: This in-depth look at the 1990 mini-series based on Stephen King’s iconic novel features interviews with many of the cult classic’s key players, including director Tommy Lee Wallace and cast members Seth Green, Richard Thomas, and Tim Curry, who portrayed the notorious monster clown, Pennywise.

Fan-fueled documentaries about cult films aren’t as prevalent as you would think, and they probably should be. They’re always passion projects, making them more fun to watch than any studio-produced retrospective. Even when said films run over four hours long (Crystal Lake Memories, In Search of Darkness), they’re filled with a wealth of information. Cult Screenings UK previously provided the excellent Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound and Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary. Now they’re back with Pennywise: The Story of IT.

Obviously this isn’t about the 2017 and 2019 films, as they’re not old enough to be ready for a retrospective. This is about the 1990 miniseries, without which those remakes wouldn’t exist. Perhaps someone would have made an IT adaptation eventually, but this miniseries triggered a fear of clowns in an entire generation and moved Pennywise into pop culture. And yet there have never been any real making-of specials about it. Fans were starved for behind-the-scenes stories, relying on print interviews or the DVD commentary. It seems John Campopiano, Gary Smart and Christopher Griffiths were tired of waiting, because they made their own.

Pennywise runs at just over two hours, a rare example of a fan documentary feature that’s shorter than its source material. But in that two hours it packs in just about everything you could care to know. And it doesn’t do so with rose-colored glasses. Just about everyone involved with the production seems to admit that IT had flaws, particularly with the second night. But it’s clear they still look back on the film and its legacy fondly.

Most of these types of documentaries usually have somebody missing, but outside of people who are no longer with us (Jonathan Brandis, Harry Anderson, John Ritter), only Annette O’Toole is missing for whatever reason. Not only does this documentary get just about every minor role you could possibly think of, they were able to get Tim Curry as well. He doesn’t talk as much as you’d want, likely due to the health issues he’s had over the years, but gaps are filled in with vintage interviews. That’s also how we get quotes from Stephen King about his thought process in writing the novel.

The most impressive thing is the wealth of behind-the-scenes footage, photos and vintage news articles and interviews it contains. There’s plenty of shots of Tim Curry in the makeup chair, shots of noteworthy moments being covered and trivia that you might not have known before. I was particularly interested in seeing that the giant spider (which no one liked) was capable of moving more than was shown. The story about the book scene’s creation was also interesting. There’s a wealth of stories that fans of the miniseries will enjoy hearing, especially after a lack of them for so long.

I think the only thing I would have liked was everyone’s thoughts on the remake. I get why it wasn’t there, but Brandon Crane was in Chapter Two, so it would have been interesting. It’s not necessary, however.

Pennywise is a fun watch for fan of the 1990 miniseries and a great companion piece if you want to add an extra two hours to the overall experience. It may have taken a lot of work to put together, but it doesn’t feel like work to watch. This is an enjoyable and informative watch. You can find it now on Screambox.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Pennywise: The Story of IT is an exhaustive documentary covering just about every aspect of the production of the 1990 miniseries. However, thanks to its never-ending shortage of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with almost everyone who worked on it, it never feels exhausting. This documentary is a must for fans of this classic movie.