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What’s the link between Stephen King’s ‘It’ and Burgaw?

Ben Steelman

An alert reader noted that, in Stephen King’s 1986 novel “It,” the character Mike Hanlon’s father comes from Burgaw. The reader wondered: Why was that?

Well, the definitive answer will have to wait for Mr. King who’s pretty elusive. (He’s cagey about granting interviews and doesn’t give out his e-mail address.) A few clues, however, are suggestive.

First, King would probably have been working on his novel in the early 1980s, and would have been preparing his manuscript for publication in 1984 and 1985. And, in the early 1980s, producer Dino De Laurentiis and associates were shooting a lot of movies based on Stephen King novels and stories in Southeastern North Carolina.

“Firestarter,” of course, was shot in 1983 in Wilmington, Brunswick County [Map this] and a few other regional locations. “Cat’s Eye” — with a script by King (based on some short stories) — shot in the area in the summer of 1984 and 1985. Then came “Silver Bullet,” based on a King novella, “Cycle of the Werewolf.” It filmed in the autumn of 1984 — and downtown Burgaw, Courthouse Square and Pender Memorial Park were all extensively used as locations.

King was actually in the area in the summer and fall of 1985, directing his own script for “Maximum Overdrive,” about cars, trucks and lawn mowers that suddenly developed minds of their own and began attacking humans. It was King’s only directing credit to date — and considering his comments about the movie (which bombed at the box office), it will likely be his last.

Now, how King thought up Pennywise, the evil something of “It” that takes the form of a spooky, demonic clown … we don’t even want to think about that one.

Related links:

Why are no more films being made in Wilmington?

What are the best and worst movies ever made in the Wilmington area?

New book recounts how Wilmington became ‘Hollywood East’

User-contributed question by:
Dennis Kinzer

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