Why It Took ‘The Simpsons’ 32 Years to Do Stephen King’s ‘It’ for ‘Treehouse of Horror’

Preview

“Aren’t you gonna say hello?” asks the mega-frightening Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Tim Curry) when he first appears in ABC’s 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

The story about the shape-shifting cosmic creature who devours children — and the group of friends who defeat him twice, as kids and as adults — is an iconic horror tale. And yet, after 32 installments of The Simpsons’ annual Halloween treat, “Treehouse of Horror,” it’s one that had yet to be parodied when episode writer Cesar Mazariegos pitched it. “We all looked at each other and were like, ‘How did we not ever do It?’” he recalls.

The real reason? Time. Fox’s yearly spookfest has usually told three or more unnerving tales within the half hour. King’s novel is more than 1,100 pages. The solution: Make “Not It” the animated sitcom’s first single-story “Horror.” Then, on October 30, air “Treehouse of Horror XXXIII,” featuring a Westworld spoof, among others, to keep the vignette tradition alive.

In “Not It,” the children of Kingfield — a tribute to It’s prolific author — are terrorized by a version of the series’ familiar Krusty the Clown, named Krusto (voiced by Dan Castellaneta). “There are [fans] who have tattoos of Krusty as Pennywise. Some people have been wanting this for years,” notes Mazariegos. The opening scene stays true to It, more or less, with the sinister sewer introduction of Krusto (and a young Barney Gumble as the doomed Georgie). Krusto, however, feeds off of laughter. But there’s a catch: “He’s an unfunny clown,” Mazariegos says, adding that Krusto’s child victims become “a hypnotized studio audience who have to laugh at everything he says.”

The Simpsons’ take on the Losers Club, which tries to destroy Krusto, consists of younger, misfit versions of Homer (Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Carl (Alex Désert), Moe and Comic Book Guy (both Hank Azaria). We also see the gang 27 years later, when the monster rises again. “It’s fun to see how things turned out,” Mazariegos says. “It changes the course of the future that we know.”

Fox is also hosting a fan art contest for any skilled Simpsons fans. Send in your creepiest, most creative fan art of Krusty the Clown for a chance to have your artwork shown at the end of the “Not It” episode airing on Sunday, October 23 at 8/7c on Fox. Go to thesimpsonshalloweenfanartcontest.com to submit your entries before Sunday, October 9.

The Simpsons, “Not It,” Sunday, October 23, 8/7c, Fox