Thursday, 5 January 2017

POP! Movies -- Pennywise the Clown

Company: Funko
Year: 2014

I know it’s been very trendy to hate on clowns lately, particularly after the whole clown sighting thing last year – but I’ll quite happily state that my dislike of clowns extends well back to childhood. I don’t have a phobia of them or anything, I’ve just never associated them with positive feelings. The Joker, John Wayne Gacy, those eerie (and depressing) Pierrot paintings every second house seemed to have displayed in the 80s and 90s…clowns are boring at best and genuine serial killers at worst.  

My larger point is that Stephen King chose quite well when he made the villain of IT a clown, even though they’ve become a heavily overused horror trope. I’m re-reading the novel for the first time in…ooh, maybe a decade or so…and while it has some of the usual shortcomings I associate with his books, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the IT of the title, is one of his great villains.

Of course, even more people are familiar with the character through the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation, where he was played by Tim Curry. Somewhat disappointingly, I’ve never actually watched the whole thing (like many King adaptations, it was everywhere on VHS, but seemed to disappear in the DVD era), but Tim Curry seems to do the character justice. So today we find ourselves looking at the plastic representation of Pennywise, delivered to us by Funko.

This is Pennywise in his more overtly evil form; while he’s creepy in all his appearances, his face changes slightly when he’s about to commit a murder, teeth becoming pointed and eyes shifting in colour. His hands are also stretched out, presumably to grab one of his victims.

For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen the book or watched the film (SPOILERS), Pennywise is not actually a clown. King was really riffing on Lovecraft when he wrote IT, though he dressed it up with plenty of Americana and kid’s adventure story to subvert some of Lovecraft’s usual story structure – rather, the clown is a manifestation of an H.P. Lovecraft-style supernatural/extraterrestrial horror that lurks beneath the city of Derry, Maine. Arriving before the dawn of recorded history, he manifests every 27 years or so, wreaking terrible violence before returning to some kind of slumber. 

More in common than you might have realised

There was probably scope to do at least a couple of different versions of Pennywise -- maybe a “plain” version or one holding balloons – but this one serves as well as any other. With the upcoming 2017 movie of IT, it seems likely that we’ll get one based on that film’s take on the character too.
Overall? He’s a well-designed figure, and though I wouldn’t say I rate him as highly as a number of my other horror-themed POPs, my affection for the novel and Stephen King’s wider works was enough to push me to purchase. If you can find him (he seems to be discontinued) and you’re a fan, he’s a worthwhile investment.  

*For the younger reader of this blog, I think it may be difficult to comprehend just how big a deal Stephen King was when I was a kid. Sure, he’s still an exceedingly famous author, but back then he was a genuine phenomenon. My childhood memory may exaggerate a little, but not too much. A public figure since the 1970s and highly prolific throughout the 1980s, the 1990s saw King’s popularity explode to a whole new level. For a while there, you couldn’t walk into a video store without seeing some new adaptation on the shelves, and had an average bookstore display of his works collapsed on you, you would have likely been killed, given how many books he’d published at that point.  

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