Is Pennywise Based on a True Story

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Was Stephen King’s IT Based On a True Story?

Pennywise the Clown is one of the most horrifying horror movie slashers to ever grace the screen! Many people only think of Stephen King’s IT from the new hit remake in 2017, but, the original TV mini-series was released in 1990. Pennywise is the star of both films. He is a super creepy clown who can manifest a number of spiritual and psychological anomalies. Purely focusing on Pennywise as a clown, however, is scary enough. And there have been a lot of weird imitations throughout the years following the miniseries, a lot of people wonder if the killer clown became from an inspiration of its own.

Is Pennywise the Clown Real?

No. Pennywise the Clown himself is not real. Stephen King himself has composed a small write up which he posted directly on his website, explaining his original inspiration for the idea of IT and the fictional, killer clown.

Did You Know?
Despite popular belief, Pennywise the Clown was not based off of John Wayne Gacy.

What Was the Inspiration for Pennywise the Clown and IT?

Ironically, the idea spawned from the famous fairy tale known as “The Three Billy-Goats Gruff”, by which a troll haunts the underside of a bridge. The story is simple: unsuspecting souls passing along the bridge are harassed by the evil troll. As time evolved, King realized the fear mostly resonated with children.1

Beyond The Inspiration: Real Life Pennywise Situations

Some real life incidents have occurred which strike an eerie, uncanny resemblance to Pennywise and It.

John Wayne Gacy

Despite the fact that John Wayne Gacy was not the inspiration for Pennywise the clown, he was still a clown-killing menace to society. He was a very sinister rapist and serial killer who targeted young boys and men. His stage name, “Pogo the Clown,” allowed him access to all types of charity events. This creepy killer would lure victims to his home, trick them into handcuffs, sexually torture them, and then murder them (usually by strangling them). The bodies were dumped in a river, stored in his crawlspace, or buried on his land.2

Still, despite many popular outlets naming John Wayne Gacy as the “inspiration for it” or the “real life clown killer” from IT, Gacy was definitely not where Stephen King came up with the idea.

Clown Sightings

There is a very eerie trend of people dressing up as killer clowns and scaring the heck out of unsuspecting people. Most of the time, these people are in the public and do not know the clown-wearing fools. These clowns present themselves in alleyways, around grunge-like corners, and on dark streets. They consider it to be a prank. It was such a popular trend in 2016 that it made national news several times.3 While these clowns have not been slaughtering children, they are still one of the closest, creepiest comparisons to Pennywise.

Sheila Keen

Sheila Keen is originally from Florida, but moved to the mountains of Virginia after she doned a clown outfit and murdered poor Marlene Warren. She bought some balloons and a crafty note that read “You’re the Greatest!” and approached Warren at her home. Keen then drew a .38 caliber revolver and fired a single shot into Warren’s face. Warren died two days later in the hospital.4 Although it was just a single murder, motivated by passion (she later married the victim’s husband), it was a memorable clown killing.

Doctor Aspirin

Like John Wayne Gacy, the award-winning Belgian clown Kevin Lapeire, aka “Doctor Aspirin”, used to entertain sick children and charity events. But then he doned his costume for more sinister uses, murdering a poor mother of three right in front of her children. Doctor Aspirin murdered out of passion (much like Keen), after a relationship went sour and met break up. Ultimately, Lapeire would detain the three children in binds, terrorize them throughout the night, and murder their mother. He also lassoed his friend into the crime. After they separated, Lapeire would bring police to an intense, Facebook-streamed standoff that lasted hours before he surrendered.5

Final Words on Pennywise

Plenty of creepy clowns have been haunting the world, both before and after Stephen King’s popular horror flick. Unfortunately, there have also been many killer clowns. Some of them are much more viscous than others. Obviously, however, anyone can wear a clown costume. Regardless of what real life clown incidents may exist similar to Stephen King’s It, Pennywise will always remain a naturally terrifying asset to the horror movie community!


1King, S., (2019). IT: Inspiration. Retrieved from:

2A&E (April 2014). The “John Wayne Gacy Biography”. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved on September 1, 2019.

3Willingham, AJ. (October 10, 2016). What’s with all the clowns everywhere? 6 legit possibilities. Cnn Health. Retrieved from:

4CBS News. The Search for a Killer Clown. CBS News. Retrieved from: on September 1, 2019.

5Crisp, J., (May 15, 2018). Belgian clown ‘murdered’ mother in front of her children after roping in sidekick in alleged revenge plot. The Telegraph. Retrieved from:


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Surprising Facts About The Fright Night Remake

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Interesting Facts About The Fright Night Remake


Behind the Scenes of Fright Night (2011)

Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin put on a fantastic performance in the 2011 remake of Fright Night.  Farrell plays a sophisticated, experienced, yet rugged vampire who is hundreds of years old and choosing to feed in Las Vegas, land of the nightlife.  Yelchin plays Charlie Brewster, an average high school nerd who fights to uncover the truth about his neighbor (Farrell).  The vampire flick is a true thriller, keeping the audience on alert the whole movie through, sprinkled with enough comedy to keep make it an all-around hit.  But what are some of the interesting or surprising behind the scenes fun facts about Fright Night which have helped create the masterpiece it is today?  These are some of the most surprising facts about the Fright Night remake.

Hair Raising Fright Night Remake Trivia and Fun Facts

Even the craziest Fright Night fans are surprised when they learn some of these trivia and fun facts about the movie’s 2011 remake.  These facts are in no particular order.

Steven Spielberg

Spielberg has had his hands on a large number of masterpieces in the movie industry (both horror and otherwise).  It is not as well known, however, that he had contributed a lot of input during the production of the movie.  There is no question that he greatly influenced the Fright Night remake.

Jerry’s Makeup

Unbelievable amounts of time went into Jerry’s makeup, and Robert Englund (who played Freddy Krueger for all of the original films) will explain how horrible that can be!  While it may not have been as bad for Jerry as it was for Freddy Krueger, he did have 4 different stages of makeup, representing different phases of his anger/transformation/vampirehood.  He also had a 5th stage which technically wasn’t makeup but 100 percent CGI.

fright night movie remake picturesMost of It Wasn’t Filmed In Las Vegas

The Fright Night remake was filmed in a small suburb near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Some of it, however, was filmed at the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas.

Original Cast

The only member of the original cast of Fright Night (1985) to appear in both other Fright Night films is Chris Sarandon.  In the remake, he is the victim driving the other vehicle which strikes Charlie, his mother and his girlfriend when they are sitting in the middle of the road.

Heath Ledger

Before Heath Ledger’s unfortunate demise in 2008, he was in early stage talks of playing the role Jerry (the head vampire in Fright Night).  Colin Farrell would instead take the role after being impressed by the previous work of the director, Craig Gillespie.

The Final Bite On Fright Night…

The Fright Night remake was an instant classic (no irony intended really), and in many people’s eyes, it was a lot better than the original.  The movie stands out as a classic vampire flick, despite its rather modern release.  The all-star cast does a great job of portraying believable roles and it keeps the audience immersed in the storyline and fighting for the protagonists. The entire tale is truly invigorating and leaves the audience feeling as though they are a part of the movie.  In fact, many fans consider Fright Night (2011) as one of the best vampire movies ever made!




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