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Tim Curry ruined my childhood

I have only seen Stephen King’s IT once…

…but once was enough.

Earlier today

During a tea and biscuit break (very important for the smooth running of industry in the UK – read here for more details), a colleague and I discovered our shared aversion to clowns via a conversation about Are you Afraid of the Dark, which is now on Netflix.

When we tried to think of the reason why, we simultaneously uttered the same word: ‘IT’.

Like me, my friend had been traumatised by the adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel.

Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown
Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown

One man changed a generation

If you do not like clowns, there’s a good chance you can place the blame on one man, and one man alone: Tim Curry.

It’s bad enough Stephen King’s twisted (but brilliant) mind created ‘Pennywise the Dancing Clown’. But to make matters worse, Pennywise was brought to life, by none other than the same man who played ‘Darkness’ in Legend (1985). And if that red-skinned, giant horned, devil man beastie didn’t mess you up just a little, then you have the imagination of gnat.

Darkness (Tim Curry) in Legend (1985)
Darkness (Tim Curry) in Legend (1985)

Statistics reveal that the Tim Curry, has been cited as the number one cause in 78.2 % of all “clown related psychological issues.” Furthermore, in most of these cases, where people were born after 1975, some 53.7 % are diagnosed with coulrophobia.*

Basically, Tim Curry messed up a lot of kids and teens, plus a smattering of adults who damn well should have known better.

When itty-bitty Constant Scribbler met a Bad Clown called Pennywise

I take this revelation very seriously: I don’t know if I can watch IT again.

I saw IT when I was a young child. I have no idea how it happened. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to see it. My parents were good at figuring out what was kosher and what wasn’t when it came to TV and film. It didn’t stop me from occasionally trying to sneak videos past them as ‘suitable for your highly imaginative child under the age of ten’.

Note to reader: This tactic really only worked with manga. My mum would say, “It’s a cartoon. How can bad can it be?” Cue ten year-old me, not correcting her and saying, “Yeah mum, cartoons are only for children.”

After watching IT, I remember looking out of my window, staring up at the moon and thinking that maybe the face I saw there would morph into Pennywise. You couldn’t get me near one of those open, grate-drain for months. I realise now, I still don’t like grate-drains. *pauses for thought*

Oh, and my intense dislike of spiders, yeah those creepy, eight-legged freaks….well after watching IT….game over! Full on, anti-arachnid, hate group in my house.

The cast of Stephen King's IT.
The cast of Stephen King’s IT (1990)

Never the same again

IT left an oily kind of residual trauma over my inner child and it has never washed away.

This is surprising because I adore horror films!

When a good horror film is made, I’m the first to tweet about it. But IT has always been a ‘no-go’ zone for me. There are few films or shows from my childhood that I wouldn’t watch again, but IT is one of them.

Rationally, I know the film cannot scare me the way it did as a child. My logical, adult mind will laugh at how dated the effects look. And, I know that Pennywise’s face won’t appear in the moon. But maybe, that is precisely why I don’t want to rewatch IT.

It is a kind of reverse psychology: I hold on the scariest memories of my childhood because not much scares me anymore. Death, taxes, meh, ain’t escaping those. My nightmares are ordinary in comparison to my childhood terrors. The things that go bump in the night are not monsters and demons, but unpaid bills, job security and how will I cope when my parents die?

Maybe I secretly, still want Pennywise to frighten the bejesus out of me, because I remember that once upon a time, a little girl who should have been in bed, stayed up and watched a video about a scary clown…and secretly I’m still holding on to that little girl and her awesome imagination.

*(These statistics may be factually inaccurate, and/or potentially fabricated, for the purposes of this blog post. Nevertheless, Tim Curry is responsible for a lot people thinking clowns are scary-ass mofos.)

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