25 best horror movie monsters

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23. Pennywise (It)

Not all monsters are unthinking machines. Some, in fact, are so vastly intelligent that their malice is all the more menacing for it.

It also doesn’t help if the monster in question takes the shape of a clown. Pennywise, the sharp-toothed being from Stephen King’s It, could have taken any form, really. In fact, in King’s 1986 novel, Pennywise is actually something far worse. It’s an ancient, vast demonic entity that variously looks like a giant spider, a series of orange lights, or whatever will scare its victim the most.

But, it’s likely that anyone who’s even skirted the edge of It territory remembers the clown form taken by the creature. Of course, the notoriety of the image takes a lot from the 1990 American-Canadian miniseries. In that work, veteran actor Tim Curry turned in a chilling, astounding performance as Pennywise the Clown.

In the book and the series, Pennywise menaces the children of Derry, Maine every thirty years. When it emerges from whatever eldritch, interdimensional hellhole it occupies, Pennywise consumes young people in gruesome fashion. Anyone who stands in It’s way is likely to end up with a similarly awful fate.

A new feature-length adaptation of It is set to hit movie screens this September. While the widespread fear of clowns (especially clowns with overly sharp teeth and the ability to drag children to a Lovecraftian dimension of horrors) will certainly help the movie’s cause, it’s hard to forget Tim Curry’s performance. He’s perfectly menacing, and his work will stand as a horror landmark for many years to come.