The Disturbing IT Scene Left On The Cutting Room Floor

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, "IT" tells the story of an ancient trans-dimensional evil who arrived on Earth during a cataclysmic event, landing in the location that would later become Derry, Maine. After settlers began moving to the location, the titular It adopted a hibernation pattern of 27 years, waking to terrify, torment, kill, and eat. It has been known to take on many forms, but none more well-known than Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Considered by many to be one of the scariest villains in horror movie history, the portrayal of Pennywise by actors Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgård have been plaguing nightmares for decades.

"It's such an extreme character ...inhumane, It's beyond even a sociopath, because he's not even human, he's not even a clown," Skarsgård said in an interview with Vulture. "I'm playing just one of the beings It creates."

In 2017, director Andy Muschietti re-introduced the world to Pennywise the Dancing Clown with "It: Chapter One," released 27 years after the mini-series of the same name. Bill Skarsgård horrified audiences with his performance, dismembering and eating poor, little Georgie Denbrough, and terrifying a group of friends known as the Losers Club, featuring Georgie's older brother Bill, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Beverly Marsh, Ben Hanscom, Stanley Uris, and Mike Hanlon.

According to Skarsgård, "It: Chapter One" could have been even more spine-chilling, as one particularly disturbing scene didn't make the final cut.

The Prequel to Pennywise

Before Andy Muschietti took on the role of director, "It: Chapter One" was originally going to be directed by Cary Fukunaga ("True Detective," "No Time To Die") with a script co-written by Chase Palmer. The script went through a variety of drafts, but Fukunaga ultimately left the project after allegedly wanting to lean into the much darker aspects of the Stephen King novel, and present something much more unsettling than what was finally shown on screen. In an episode of ​​Variety's "Playback" podcast, Skarsgård mentioned shooting a scene that he, himself, called "disturbing," but one that was inevitably cut from the final product.

"There was a scene we shot that was a flashback from the 1600s, before Pennywise [was Pennywise]," the actor described. "The scene turned out really, really disturbing. And I'm not the clown. I look more like myself."

"It's very disturbing, and sort of a backstory for what It is, or where Pennywise came from," Skarsgård added. "That might be something worth exploring in the second one. The idea is the It entity was dormant for thousands and thousands of years. The [flashback] scene hints on that."

Film fans immediately scoured the internet trying to track down the elusive scene, with Redditors finding a 2016 draft of the screenplay from Gary Dauberman containing a missing flashback scene taking place after the Losers Club fights Pennywise in the house on Neibolt Street, and before the scene featuring bully Henry Bowers playing with his father's gun.

What Happens In The Scene?

The flashback shows a woman named Abigail holding a crying baby, one that Pennywise has set his sights on as his next meal. Abigail tries to plead with Pennywise to take her instead, but he replies saying that if he takes her, he will also take the baby, her husband, all of her other children, and will continue seeking out the flesh and souls of others until there is nothing left. But says if she sacrifices the baby, he will let her and the rest of her settlement live as an act of mercy. Abigail and Pennywise are interrupted by one of her other children, who runs away in terror, forcing Abigail to make the difficult decision to sacrifice her baby to Pennywise. She leaves the baby on the floor and walks away as Pennywise devours the infant, crunching on the baby's bones as Abigail quietly accepts her decision.

Variety also reported that one of the early drafts of the screenplay also contained a flashback to the 1800s and featured Pennywise as a saloon piano player, using the music as a tool to incite violence. Unfortunately, neither scenes made it into the final cut, but the follow-up film, "It: Chapter Two" showcased an old photograph and vision of Skarsgård's makeup-less Pennywise while the elderly Mrs. Kersh (one of the many forms of It) telling a story about her circus-performing father during a chance meeting with a now-adult Beverly Marsh. However, as Beverly Marsh's ultimate fear is horrific father figures, it's not clear if Beverly is seeing Pennywise recounting the true events of his life, or a ploy to instill as much fear in her as possible.

A Timeline of Terror

The original Stephen King novel is a whopping 1,138 pages, and condensing the story to two movies or a television mini-series means a lot of information is unfortunately left out. Pennywise's 27-year hibernation appears to be dictated by a horrific event signaling his awakening or hibernation. It once awoke after a man named John Markson poisoned his own family and then took his own life in an excruciating manner by eating a white nightshade mushroom, and again after a lumberjack named Claude Heroux murdered a dozen men in a bar with just one axe before being tracked down by an angry mob and later hung. The film does include the canonical events of the Kitchener Ironworks explosion and the fire at The Black Spot nightclub, but neither are explored in as much depth as the novel due to time limitations.

Any of these terrifying flashbacks would make for horrific scenes, and could have fit perfectly in the number of research scenes set in the library as Ben learns more about the tragedies of Derry's past. Then again, with over five hours in a total runtime between both "It" movies, it's understandable why these scenes were left on the cutting room floor. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll get a Pennywise prequel series some day. But until then, we're still perfectly capable of being scared out of our wits watching It terrorize the Losers Club.