There isn’t another way to put it, the horror community is delirious for its impending return to Derry, Maine. Since Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema released the IT teaser, records for trailer views have been shattered and even naysayers who had been hesitant about a new vision on a classic tale suddenly found themselves optimistic.
However, in a recent press release, Ginger Knight Entertainment offered a reminder that there’s “another clown horror film lurking in the shadows.” Crepitus is waiting to pounce this fall, but with IT scheduled to hit theatres a month before, GKE is referring to the match-up as “a true David and Goliath story” that begs the question, “Can Crepitus topple the King?”
With hundreds of millions of trailer-views under IT’s belt, topple might be a strong word, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, for reasons that that have nothing to do with Crepitus.
There’s a history that comes with IT that Crepitus simply doesn’t have. Stephen King’s novel terrified legions long before ABC turned the master of horror’s story into a two-night miniseries that starred Tim Curry, a project that has haunted the collective unconscious of a generation ever since.
Pennywise is not only a titan within the genre, but enjoys crossover appeal even among those who would not be considered die-hard horror fans. So let’s call it what it is – a brand. IT and Pennywise are brands with a track record, and that’s never an easy thing to compete against.
But that doesn’t mean horror fans don’t have room in their hearts for a new character to join the pantheon of terrifying clowns.
We’re not allowed to forget that we knew nothing of Captain Spaulding until 2003, a full 13 years after IT traumatized anyone who dared tune in. Fourteen years after House of 1000 Corpses and almost three decades since the original IT, we are on the verge of being introduced to Crepitus.
In the interest of suspense (and to the surprise of no one), details have been few and far between regarding the soon to be unveiled jester. While we know that this clown’s garb will be reminiscent of creepy clown outfits from the 1920s and ‘30s, Crepitus’ movement will conjure images of Rice Krispies because he snaps, crackles and pops as he maneuvers about, and happens to be an eater of children; but that’s not the most important point to keep in mind.
Part of what made Pennywise so menacingly memorable came from the fact that he was portrayed by Curry, a supremely talented actor who not only captured King’s vision for the character, but made it uniquely his own.
Crepitus is poised to follow a similar path.
GKE’s clown will not fight the uphill battle of being played by an unknown actor or young up-and-comer, but rather by genre legend Bill Moseley.
In an interview with Horror Geek Life, first time feature director Haynze Whitmore noted that an encounter with Moseley at Motor City Nightmares in 2015 led to the fulfillment of his wildest dreams. Whitmore and writers Eddie and Sarah Renner had been in contact with Moseley’s agent and shared that they had a script they wanted him to look at.
Of course, the filmmakers tempered their enthusiasm because it was Bill Moseley and his price tag had to be taken into consideration with a shoestring budget. But as Whitmore pointed out, a cameo appearance “as a cop or something” would be a victory because “just having him in it would be amazing.”
Not long after, Whitmore and the Renners received the email of a lifetime. Its message was simple – Moseley had read the script and loved it, and wanted to don the clown makeup.
Suddenly the Crepitus project had gone from a strong concept to boasting of a title character that would be played by a name that resonates with genre fanatics, to say nothing of the alcoholic and abusive mother portrayed by Dexter’s Eve Mauro. Add Lance Paul (Dark Roads 79) as Sheriff Jed along with promising newcomer Caitlin Williams and Chalet Brannan (Cyborg X) as Mauro’s daughters, and things were looking very promising indeed.
Whitmore jokingly referred to Crepitus as the “feel-good Disney” flick that Team Mouse would never release, but thankfully, Ginger Knight’s horror sensibilities give them no such pause.
The final shoot will begin on April 18 in the little town of Cheboygan, Michigan with projected release in October. With limited resources, Crepitus will be less polished than IT, but in a good way. That’s not to say it won’t be well written, acted or directed, but rather more indicative of mood and theme. Crepitus intends to be dark, disturbed and gritty.
Whitmore noted that while Crepitus talks in riddles, unlike Pennywise there’s no trickery with this clown – what you see is what you get. Whitmore also made a point to say that Moseley’s screen-time won’t be overdone because the director wants Crepitus to have what he called “the Jaws effect.” Whitmore desires for his cannibalistic clown to have an air of mystery so that audiences squirm at his crackling approach, “not knowing” what to expect. In other words, Whitmore delights in the fact that Crepitus with “toy with people’s minds.”
From Ginger Knight’s press release:
Seventeen-year old Elizabeth and her younger sister Sam are thrust into circumstances more terrifying than life with their abusive, drunken mother when they are forced to move into their deceased Grandfather’s house. Frightened beyond belief, they are forced to learn terrible things about their family history. Never mind the ghosts in the house, there is something far worse that takes an interest in them…a cannibalistic clown named Crepitus.
Which brings us back to Moseley.
Long before landing the horror veteran for the title role, a random viewing of The Devil’s Rejects left Whitmore thinking that Moseley would make “the most demented clown (Whitmore could) ever imagine.” A brilliant performer who also happens to be friends with another iconic clown, Sid Haig’s Captain.
Whitmore joked with Moseley on set, asking “You did your homework, right? You talked to Sid?” before Moseley improvised some spine-tingling dialogue that left the director calling cut and yelling to a PA “I need a new, fresh pair of pants!”
Crepitus is a clown who considers children’s fingers a delicacy, and moviegoers are likely to witness some snacking, but Whitmore offers assurance that, “Crepitus doesn’t turn into a spider at the end.”
IT is a brand with a long, lucrative history, but if Crepitus executes on the promise of Moseley and the script that he loved, there’s room at the inn for one more clown.
Crepitus has a reservation. Will it be fulfilled? We’ll find out this October.
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