September 6, 2017 / 6:00 AM / 2 years ago

A sinister Pennywise returns with a big dose of nostalgia in "It"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It has been 27 years since a deranged killer clown terrorized a town on the small screen in “It” and ushered in a generation’s fear of clowns. Now, Stephen King’s Pennywise the child-eating clown is back, with bloodier teeth and a fresh set of victims.

Cast members Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis pose at the premiere for "It" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

“It,” opening in theaters on Friday, is the long-awaited movie version of King’s 1986 horror novel, rated “R” for gritty thrills, gory deaths and a Loser’s Club - the group of hero teenagers - not shy about cursing and making crude comments.

“There was still the feeling that ‘It’ had not been faithfully adapted in all its glory and it’s been 27 seven years since 1990. So it’s about time,’ director Andy Muschietti said.

Pennywise, first played by Tim Curry in 1990’s “It” television miniseries, preyed on the innocent and poisoned the sense of security of a small town.

“It” was part of a spate of 1980s films that made a phobia of clowns, known as coulrophobia, part of the zeitgeist and a horror movie staple.

Setting the new film in the late 1980s was a personal decision for Muschietti, who threw in a bevy of 1980s nostalgia with music and pop culture references for his cast of smart-mouthed teenagers.

“It’s also a time of your life where you basically stop being a child and ... become being an adult, which is exactly precisely what happens to the Losers,” Muschietti added.

“It” begins with a very vivid homage to the 1990 miniseries as little Georgie Denbrough, clad in a yellow raincoat, chases a paper boat down the rain-soaked streets of the fictional suburban town of Derry, Maine, right to a storm drain.

There Pennywise, a supernatural demon clown, lurks underground and lures Georgie to a gory fate that kicks off a chain of deaths for the town’s teenagers and strange visions among the seven members of the Loser’s Club.

“‘It’ scared so many people in the ‘80s,” said actress Sophia Lillis, who plays Beverly, the sole girl in the Loser’s Club.

“Their childhood was based off of ‘It’ ... so it has this big fan base around it but I think the basis is nostalgia.”

Reporting by Rollo Ross for Reuters TV and Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bill Trott

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