Exclusive: John Campopiano on Pennywise: The Story of IT - Dread Central
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Exclusive: John Campopiano on Pennywise: The Story of IT



After a hugely successful IndieGoGo campaign, Pennywise: The Story of IT is officially under way! The documentary will be an in-depth examination of the legacy of Tim Curry’s iconic role, as well as of coulrophobia –the fear of clowns– from a historical and pop cultural perspective.

Production for Pennywise: The Story of IT begins next month, but we’re too excited to wait around for the release. Writer and co-producer John Campopiano (who was also behind Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary) was kind enough to give us as many details as he could about the project, which is a collaboration between him and the UK-based Dead Mouse Productions and UK Cult Screenings.

Dread Central: What is the intention of the documentary? What are your goals for it?

John Campopiano: For me, the documentary has three major components: examining and celebrating Tim Curry  and his portrayal of Pennywise the Clown and the legacy of that character; the ripple effect the film and portrayal had on the public consciousness of clowns, the fear of clowns, and the reliance of the horror genre on the image of the clown as a villainous entity; and the significance of The Lucky Seven and [Stephen] King’s interest and ability to write so beautifully to the adolescent experience. 

[As for] goals, [I want to] fill a void in the horror world with respect to behind-the-scenes stories, production photos and archival footage, and first hand accounts from cast and crew about their experience making the miniseries. I feel that fans have been given so little insight into IT, so it’s our hope (as fans ourselves) that we can fill that void.

DC: What would you say the inspiration behind this project was?

JC: I’ve been a super fan of IT since I was little. In many ways, making this documentary is like bringing myself closer to the film and maybe even facing some demons that I encountered as a kid after seeing the film for the first time…and being scared to death of Pennywise.

DC: What are some of those demons? Nightmares about Pennywise?

JC: Intense Pennywise nightmares! The first time I saw IT, I didn’t even make it past Georgie’s funeral scene. The sewer grate scene with Pennywise and Georgie was just so odd and off-color that it really haunted me. I think had Pennywise popped out of a closet or from under the bed, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. I was afraid of drains in my bathroom for a short period of time after first seeing the film (laughs). I’ve never admitted this to anyone, but after seeing [IT], whenever I showered, I used to stand as physically far from the drain in the tub as I could.

DC: Well, that just seems like good sense! Who initiated the documentary, and how did everyone in the crew come together to make it happen?

JC: I’ve always wanted to make a film about the miniseries, but because the source material (the book and the film adaptation) is so huge, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Last summer, as my work on the Pet Sematary documentary began to really slow down, I started working on an oral history series for Dread Central focused solely on the 1990 miniseries. After publishing my fourth or fifth interview, I jumped on a phone call with the IT special effects makeup artist Bart Mixon. He mentioned having tons of behind-the-scenes set footage from IT and that some other filmmakers had expressed interest in the footage and even in making an IT documentary. 

I knew at that moment I had to reach out to those guys. I wrote director Chris Griffith on Facebook and dropped him a quick note saying something like, “Hey, I love IT as well and would love to make a film with you if you were ever interested.” A while went by, and then I heard from Gary Smart, who had an idea about us all collaborating on a film. That was back in November 2016, and now in June 2017, we’re gearing up for production next month. It’s all really exciting!

DC: How quickly were you all able to get the original cast and crew together? 

JC: The amazing thing is that I had been reaching out to cast and crew members and collecting production photos for my oral history series as early as last May, so once I teamed up with the guys in the UK, I had done a lot of the preliminary work.

DC: How did you approach Tim Curry about participating in the project?

JC: I had connected with one of his public appearances reps in New Jersey last October and maintained communication with him. He was instrumental in helping us connect with the right people on Tim’s team. 

DC: So you’re starting production next month– is everything all set to go?

JC: We’re still ironing out all of the details. It’s actually a fairly complicated process of getting the guys over here from the UK, meeting in California, and then traveling around LA, Seattle, and ultimately Vancouver.

DC: Can you speak a little more on the cultural impact of IT? You’ve mentioned that it brought coulrophobia to the public consciousness, but do you think it was more than that?

JC: I think clowns have been viewed as scary long before Tim Curry and IT. However, I think his portrayal of Pennywise was such a landmark role [and] catapulted the fear of clowns to the general mainstream. Real life people, like John Wayne Gacy, are certainly pieces of this weird puzzle, but I think even all these years later, Pennywise has lingered in the general consciousness of horror fans, and maybe even film fans in general. Pennywise has become as recognizable as the shark in Jaws and Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask.

I think the role of Pennywise also gave people a tangible example to point to when admitting their fear of clowns. After IT, I think lots of people could start referencing a direct trigger for their fears. In our documentary, we’re going to explore all of these things from a psychological, historical, and even slightly academic angles. There have been lots of really interesting research and reporting on the subject of coulrophobia. 

DC: How do you think Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise compare to the literary Pennywise?

JC: I think it’s always a Herculean task trying to trim King’s longer books down to feature film length, or even miniseries length, as the case is here. There were so many elements of the book that I think were next to impossible to recreate for the small screen. That said, I think Tim’s intensity matched the way Pennywise was described in the book. For me, Tim’s brilliance in this role was all in his eyes. He’s not actually on camera much, but when he is on screen, his eyes guide the scenes every time. 

DC: Have you learned anything new so far about the making of IT?

JC: Something that stands out is the fact that, in many ways, the film was a local Vancouver production, so many of the cast and crew were Vancouver locals. It’s reminding me of my Pet Sematary documentary when we discovered that so many from the cast and crew were local Maine people– many of whom got their first break in the business on that film. The more we dig deeper, the more I’m beginning to feel like that telling the story of the miniseries will also be telling the story of the Vancouver film scene in the late 1980’s. As someone who loves local history and oral histories in general, I’m definitely game for letting that side topic take me wherever it will. 

DC: Who are you most excited to interview?

JC: Tim Curry is definitely at the top of the list. I have met him in person and spoken with him on the phone, so I’ve already had that starstruck moment (laughs). I’m also really excited to interview the [Losers’ Club] kids. Growing up, I really identified with those kids. Connecting with them as adults is going to be really surreal, but so fun. 

DC: So what’s the first order of business once production starts?

JC: We need to finish mapping out when and where our interviews are happening, and setting up a travel schedule for British Columbia (where the filming locations are). It’s no easy task when we’re looking at at least twenty interviews and dozens of filming locations scattered around Northwest Canada. But the production challenges are part of the fun!

For more on Pennywise: The Story of IT, be sure to keep an eye on the official Dead Mouse Facebook page.

Pennywise The story of IT


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Ryan Schifrin’s Abominable Gets a Sasquatch-Sized Blu-Ray



A recent scientific study concluded that since the year 2000 there have 4,374,139 killer Bigfoot movies. 2006’s Abominable is one of the better Sasquatch-ploitation flicks of the era. Now this creature feature is getting a collector’s edition blu-ray complete with a brand new cut of the gruesome flick.

MVD Rewind Collection has announced they’re planning a special edition of Ryan Schifrin’s gory Hitchcock-influenced Bigfoot flick Abominable, which cast Matt McCoy as a wheelchair bound man who begins Rear Window-ing a psycho Sasquatch terrorizing his hot-blooded cabin neighbors that then turns his big foot towards him. Lance Henriksen, Dee Wallace, Jeffrey Combs, Tiffany Shepis, Haley Joel, Karin Anna Cheung, and Paul Gleason co-star.

It has been sighted 42,000 times in 68 countries, a vicious creature of myth and legend called Sasquatch, Yeti, and perhaps most infamously, Bigfoot. It’s been hunted it for years. But what happens when it decides to hunt us?

After recovering from a horrific accident, paraplegic Preston Rogers (Matt McCoy) moves back into the remote cabin where he and his now-deceased wife once lived. When his new neighbor Karen, is attacked by a gigantic creature, Rogers contacts the local authorities. But after the police and those around him dismiss Rogers as a delusional widower, he sets out to stop the abominable creature himself.

This won’t be your typical collector’s edition as not only will be getting a new high definition transfer of the film originally shot on 35mm, this will also include an all-new cut of the film with improved CGI-effects overseen by filmmaker Schifrin and editor Chris Conlee with enhanced color timing and correction.

As if two cuts of the film weren’t enough, MVD’s Abominable release will also boast a ton of extras both new and ported over from the original DVD release:
-Brand New 2k Remaster of the Film from the Original Camera Negative
-Brand New Introduction from Director Ryan Schifrin (HD)
-‘Basil & Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked’ (16:28, HD) – New short film written and directed by Ryan Schifrin featuring a score by legendary composer Lalo Schifrin and starring Zachari Levi, Ray Park, Malcolm McDowell and Kane Hodder
-Audio Commentary with writer/director Ryan Schifrin, Actors Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Combs
-‘Back to Genre: Making ABOMINABLE” featurette (SD)
-Deleted and Extended Scenes (SD)
-Outtakes and Bloopers (SD)
-“Shadows” Director Ryan Schifrin’s USC Student Film (SD)
-The original 2005 version of “Abominable” (Blu-ray only, 94 mins, SD)
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Poster & Still Gallery Storyboard Gallery
-Collectible Poster
-Audio: 5.1 Surround Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)

The MVD Rewind Collection release of Abomimable stomps its way to blu-ray on June 12th.


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Horror Retro Caps Boasts Hats Featuring The Lamp, The Video Dead, Rosemary’s Killer and more!



Yesterday I was stumbling around on Instagram and I came across this killer account called @horrorretrocaps. They make horror movie-themed hats and I felt the need to share their work with you guys today.

It’s not so much the hats (which are cool), or the quality of the product (which looks sound as a pound) but it is the obvious love of horror by the guys behind the scenes that gets me all warm and fuzzy.

I mean sure there are products like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But they also have hats celebrating such classics as The Outing, The Lamp (hell, yeah!), The Gate, Zombie Lake, and The Video Dead.


On top of that, the product that sealed the deal for me was their Rosemary’s Killer hat. As some of you might know, Rosemary’s Killer is the alternate title of Joseph Zito’s underrated slasher The Prowler. That alone just earned them horror-cred for days.

You can check out some of their choice caps below and then head on over to their account to purchase some product: @horrorretrocaps.

All caps are $15 plus $4 shipping in the U.S., and he also takes requests for $20.



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Jurassic Park T-Rex Stomps Through Ready Player One Trailer #3



Is that the f*cking T-Rex!?

It was only earlier this week that we brought you guys the new “pure 80’s nostalgia” poster (to the right) for Steven Spielberg’s new action-adventure film Ready Player One.

And if all the promotional materials we have seen thus far haven’t done anything to raise your interest in the film (including trailers which featured Freddy Krueger, Chucky, Christine, and King Kong) then today’s new might not help matters much.

But all the same today we have a new trailer which features the mighty T-Rex from Spielberg’s own Jurassic Park and a bunch of new character posters for good measure.

I’m just going to come right out and say that as impressed as I am with the trailers for this film, I can’t help but feel someone watched theImaginationland episode of “South Park” and thought, “Mother of God… call Steven Speilberg!”

You can check out the character posters and the new trailer below and then let us know what you think of the film thus far.

Ready Player One is directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on the novel by Cline. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Mark Rylance, Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg, and Ben Mendelsohn.

The film hits theaters March 29, 2018.


When the creator of an MMO called the Oasis dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all Oasis users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.


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