Kiss Me Fat Boy! – Stephen Kings IT

Now I want to preface this article by admitting that It is an obvious choice for a horror movie retrospective but it has significant importance to me – it managed to scare me off a whole genre of film up until this very day, which means I’ve missed out classics such as Jason X and Nine Lives. I cannot stand watching most horror movies and I really do believe it links closely to the clown played by the guy from Home Alone 2.

It’s best for us to go back to where this haunting began – I believe the year was 1996, I was at a friends house for what I understood would be an enjoyable birthday sleepover. I remember we played some Tekken 2, I assume we ate some breaded chicken and watched the Demon Headmaster – all things that guarantee a 9 year old a great night of entertainment.

I was having the time of my life until someone decided to pull out a copy of IT on VHS, thanks mate. I can’t remember but I assume I’d already seen the video on the shelves of the local video rental shop nestled between Mans Best Friend and Nightmare On Elm Street. To be honest it didn’t matter if i’d seen the movie or not because as soon as you saw the cover you knew you were in for a bad time, Pennywise literally looks like Noel Edmonds mixed with John Wayne Gacy – a disturbing concept for anyone to grasp.

Now I just wanted to keep playing Tekken 2 and eating Tofifee’s until the early morning but we all know that in the world of Primary School popularity was king. At that time I was probably the equivalent of a middling Premier League team – think of the now defunct Wimbledon FC. However that could change if I showed any kind of weakness and I’d be relegated to the Vauxhall Conference of popularity. So of course I encouraged my friend to place the video into the VHS player and press play, that’s when my whole life changed.

I’m assuming that whoever is reading this has seen It and knows about it’s infamous ending where all the tension of the film disappears and you scream at your television screen – I do challenge anyone however, to say that the rest of the film is not a tension filled creep-fest complete with a clown with teeth that look like the pointy little chip ends you get in the bottom of a bag of McCains Oven Chips.

I couldn’t challenge you that hard though because I didn’t rewatch it for this article- why? Because I totally forgot that the movie is 3 hours long, I legitimately forgot it was possible to fit 3 hours of video on to a VHS tape. I’m not even going to pretend there’s not a distinct possibility I started watching It, saw the bit when Pennywise’s teeth go all pointy, turned it off, wanted to cry and then went to put some chicken nuggets in the oven to comfort myself. The problem is with this film is it terrified me for years, I couldn’t even close my eyes in the shower when washing my hair because I thought Pennywise was going to come out of the plughole and bite me on the bollocks.

The story from what I remember goes like this – some kids get scared by a clown, which tries to lure them into the sewers in some of the most contrived and long winded ways possible. The clown also knows what your worst fears are. So get this, if you were some basement dwelling, leather trenchcoat wearing, closet sexist who was outraged by the idea of female Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 universe – Pennywise would actually manifest himself as a press release from Games Workshop confirming the release of a female Space Marine figurine, a truly terrifying thought. Anyway, years later the clown comes back to mess with them as adults or something, then at the end they find out that it’s not really a clown but it’s actually a large spider and the best way to kill it is to damage its glowing belly like you’re shooting the coloured triangles in Starfox – who saw that coming?!

Now I can’t guarantee that this synopsis is completely accurate but it’s more or less the case. What I will tell you though is that Pennywise is pretty much ALWAYS around the corner, every time you think he’s fucked off for an hour he’ll appear in the moon, up a plug, in a graveyard, in a photograph and then somehow reach out of the photograph to attack you. Basically he can do literally anything he wants, he’s pretty much a god which makes me beg the question why he struggled to outsmart children in the first place – I guess he just loves being a prick.

Tim Curry is great as Pennywise, he’s menacing and nails the sickly sweet side of things for the rare moments that he’s just being a clown. I know this because I watched a 6 minute YouTube video compiling his best moments from the movie. I was forced against my will to go see the new It movie and although it was excellent and really got the classic Stephen King vibe – I couldn’t help but think that Tim Curry made a slightly more menacing Pennywise than Bill Skarsgard. Although that might be all the CGI and extra polish which makes the whole film feel a bit more ‘hollywood’ than it’s predecessor.

The maddest thing about me giving you my opinion on all of this? I never watched It all the way through in the first place because halfway through the late night viewing way back in 1996 it all became too much for me and I stormed out of my friends front room – almost quite literally, shitting my pants. I spent the next 45 minutes in the kitchen, probably eating birthday cake and thinking about my Ryan Giggs soccer skills video or pretended I was reading Secret Seven to calm my shattered nerves. My friends collected me near the end of the movie and once I saw that Pennywise was simply a large, misunderstood, glowing spider – I did feel slightly better about things. But the next day when I wouldn’t eat the potato croquets my mum had made me, it was clear that I had been scarred in a very real way but now I think about it i’m not sure what was more harrowing – watching It or the next 2 weeks of my life once everyone at school found out what happened at the sleepover.