Originating in Stephen King's iconic and universally adored IT (1986), Pennywise the Dancing Clown has become one of the most recognizable and utterly terrifying creatures the horror genre has ever produced. From the moment the horrifying shape-shifter appeared to Georgie in a storm drain, he has terrified thousands of readers/viewers around the world. While anyone who read the novel would find it difficult to believe that Pennywise could be any scarier, Mama director Andy Muschietti was able to take the demonic clown to an entirely new level of creepy, modernizing the character for both fans of the original and new viewers.
To celebrate Hollywood's creepiest clown (sorry, Joker), we're examining Pennywise's role in Stephen King's original novel as well as IT and IT Chapter Two. We've gone ahead and ranked the five scariest things Pennywise the Dancing Clown did in the movies, before discussing the five most terrifying moments that didn't make into the films.
10 Movies: Georgie In The Storm Drain - IT Chapter Two
While Georgie might have died in the opening moments of the first film, Andy Muschietti brilliantly uses the character to terrify viewers throughout IT Chapter Two. In this horrifically intense scene, Pennywise appears in the storm drain and uses Georgie's face to lure Bill into his trap.
Providing one of the biggest jumpscares the sequel has to offer, this scene works, for the most part, because director Andy Muschietti utilizes the connection viewers have with the Denbrough brothers and uses it against us.
9 Movies: Spider Stan - IT Chapter Two
Andy Muschietti's adaptation of King's novel delivers more than a few terrifying and utterly traumatic moments, but Stanley Uris' decayed head hatching spider legs and attacking the Losers' Club is certainly one of the scariest!
This wildly intense and gruesome moment is perhaps the most shocking scene to appear in the sequel, as it takes a beloved character and uses him to wreak havoc on the Losers' Club. The scene plays with the audience's emotions in unexpected and horrifying ways while maintaining Pennywise's playful and horrendously vile sense of humor.
8 Movies: Killing Vickie - IT Chapter Two
There are plenty of characteristics that make Pennywise one of Hollywood's creepiest monsters, but his hunger for young children certainly lands at the top of the list. In this unbearably intense scene, Pennywise lures an extremely young Vicki into his trap using a firefly before gaining the girl's trust and offering to give her something she desires most. Of course, things don't end well for poor Vicki as Pennywise brutally eats the young girl alive.
Pennywise luring Vicki into his trap is unquestionably one of the most intense and shocking moments of Andy Muschietti's cinematic adaptation, as the clown once again uses his charm to consume one of Derry's youngest residents. Delivering a massive jumpscare and throwing a shocking amount of gore onto the screen, this moment displays exactly how persuasive and charming Pennywise can be when attracting his next victim.
7 Movies: The Projector - IT
While the projector scene was added by filmmaker Andy Muschietti, the sequence quickly become one of Pennywise's most terrifying and memorable acts! When the young Losers' Club come together to discover where Pennywise's lair can be found, the clown terrifyingly appears in one of Bill's family photographs before bursting out of the screen to attack the losers.
Offering one of the most shocking and downright terrifying moments in recent memory, this scene works for a number of reasons. For the most part, however, the projector scene works because it's unlike anything the horror genre has produced before. The scene came as such a massive surprise to everyone watching that it almost instantly became an iconic horror moment.
6 Movies: Killing Georgie - IT
Little Georgie Denbrough's horrific death is the most iconic and memorable moment of Stephen King's novel for a reason! In this outrageously horrific sequence, Pennywise lures Georgie into his terrifying trap by promising to return the paper boat that had sailed into the sewer. Getting closer and closer to the clown to retrieve his boat, Georgie gets the ultimate shock when Pennywise tears his arm from his body and drags him into the sewer, where he'll float forever.
Setting the tone for the entire film moving forward, Georgie's brutal and shockingly gruesome death is undoubtedly the most effective, emotional, and terrifying scene in the modern adaptation. While there are certainly a few scenes that deliver a bigger jump scare than this one, nothing compares to the intensity and the terror that both Stephen King and Muschietti deliver in the opening moments of the story.
5 Novel: The Bullies Meet Pennywise
In one of the books more entertaining but equally terrifying chapters, Henry Bowers and his friends Vic and Belch find themselves in the sewers being slaughtered by It. Taking the form of Frankenstein's monster, Pennywise brutally decapitates Vic before attempting to kill both Bowers and Belch. Henry is able to escape by abandoning his friends, while Pennywise kills Belch by shredding his face.
4 Novel: First Encounter With Ben
Ben's first sighting of Pennywise is another moment from the book that was unfortunately lost in the films. Ben first sees Pennywise while crossing the canal on his way home from school. Standing on the frozen water, Pennywise offers the young boy a balloon, and what's even more frightening, Ben actually feels compelled to accept the gift. Luckily, the town clock chimes, giving Ben a chance to escape what would've been a bloody and painful death.
3 Novel: Appearing To Stan At The Standpipe
Stan's first encounter with Pennywise is certainly something that should've made it into the films! While out birdwatching, Stan notices the infamous Standpipe floating. When Stan enters the standpipe to investigate, Pennywise quickly locks the door and begins to torment the boy using the voices of those who drowned inside. Stan is able to escape Pennywise's trap by using his guidebook and chanting the names of different birds.
2 Novel: Killing Eddie Corcoran
When Eddie Corcoran's abusive step-father kills his little brother with a hammer, the young boy runs away from home and finds himself alone in the Barrens, which is shockingly where he encounters It. Pennywise first appears to the boy as his dead little brother before shifting into Gill-Man and tearing the boys head from his torso.
1 Novel: Georgie's Photo
In this horrifying moment from Stephen King's novel, Bill is looking through a family photo book and admiring innocent pictures of his deceased little brother. The tone quickly shifts, however, when one of Georgie's pictures winks at Bill and promises that he'll see him soon. If that wasn't bad enough, the book begins to gush with blood and moves once again when Bill shows Ritchie.