I’m no fan of the horror genre, in the minority I am sure, as it seems that every low budget slasher flick recoups investor’s money in spades. Evidently plenty of people like being frightened out of their minds. I’m not sure why it does not appeal to me but I will say that I am not afraid of the dark and I have seen a ghost – which did not frighten me – so perhaps I am somewhat immune to the genre. What would really scare the crap out of me would be if God appeared to me, because I have, you know, been debunking that theory for some time. Oh, I suppose a zombie would make me nervous and certainly someone chasing me around with a chainsaw would be bothersome. In fact, there are more than a few things that might genuinely frighten me.
Clowns are not one of those things.
New Line Cinema has been relentlessly marketing its latest offering, an update on Stephen King’s 1986 novel It. The story apparently involves a clown known as Pennywise who lives in the sewer. That’s all I really know or care to know. I do know that many people are afraid of clowns for some reason or other. I don’t know why that is, as I have never really given clowns a second thought. The ones I saw as a kid – Bozo, Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton – were mildly entertaining at best and not frightening in the least. Maybe its a daddy issue thing but that would mean a hell of a lot of people have those issues. Of course, one need only spend a few minutes on social media to see that many people in this country do have issues of one kind or another.
One thing that bugs me about horror movies is the fact that the antagonist always has the upper hand. Why are these ghosts, ghouls, zombies and such always in the right place at the right time, seemingly all knowing? How is it that these beings, which can’t even muster a cogent thought or string together a coherent sentence, are able to out game and outmaneuver those of us at the top of the food chain? Of course sometimes the good guys win, more often a temporary injunction from the mayhem as the baddies always end up coming back in sequels. Is it really impossible to just kill the shit out of them? A rhetorical question of course. Folks just have to have a Freddie or Jason every other year or so to scare the living daylights out of them.
One particularly “frightening” scene in the trailer is of a young boy in knee deep water in a basement. With Pennywise the clown’s head peeking up out of the water beside him he beckons another, older kid with a promise of “You’ll float too!” The clown then dashes towards the older kid – and the viewer – in what can only be described as a perfect 3D moment. I’m not sure the movie will be showing in 3D but that would certainly be a popcorn in the air moment. I don’t know what happens at that point. Do clowns eat kids? Turn them in to zombie clowns? No idea. I only know that every time I see that scene I have an alternative reality that I would like to see.
In my story, Pennywise rushes out of the water at the kid who totally freaks out and, while flailing about, inadvertently clocks him with a random, well placed punch. Pennywise falls backwards in to the murky water somewhat surprised with an “Ow, that smarts!” look on his face. He rubs his jaw while looking warily at the kid. The kid then senses that the clown shoe is on the other foot and takes a tentative step forward, fists clenched and jaw set. Pennywise lets out a whimper and tries to scoot backwards through the muck as the kid, now emboldened, advances slowly. Pennywise lets out a shriek and scampers off in impossible fashion, like some multi-legged CGI alien creature. At this point the smaller child says something to the effect of “That’s one scary clown! Let’s get him!” The other child would of course respond “Yea, let’s pound that foolish clown!”
The rest of the movie would be Pennywise trying to get out of the house, only to be confronted at every turn by mean little boys hell bent on hitting him with sticks and tormenting his psyche as only children can do. I’m thinking excessive name calling, teasing, pestering, cajoling. Maybe they start a social media campaign aimed at belittling Pennywise. Create a fake Pennywise Facebook page, call him out on Twitter, body shame him on Instagram. Who has half a head of bright red hair and the other half bald anyway? What do you call a clown who isn’t funny? A clown of course, you just say it dripping with irony like “What’s up clown? You want funny? I got your funny right here, Bozo.”
At the end they could beat him, stab him, burn him, or otherwise maim and desecrate his smiley clown ass and rid the town of this threat once and forever. Even better, the movie would show him in a mental institution swearing “I’m Pennywise the clown. Honestly! People are scared to death of me.” as a group of goateed psychologists in lab coats nod in unison. “Sure, yes, of course.” “No, it’s true. I’m Pennywise. I’m an apex clown, top of the horror genre food chain.” as a doctor holding a syringe does that squirting thing all doctors seem to do before giving an injection. “Here, Mr. Pennywise. This should calm you down.”
The final scene would be Pennywise in a straight jacket, hunched on the floor in the corner of a dark cell in the psychiatric ward mumbling incessantly, “You can float too! I can float! We can all float! I promise. I promise! I PROMISE!!!!”
I would definitely go see that movie. They could call it Pennywise: Pound Foolish.