Pennywise the clown has returned, and he's driving a 2005 Jeep Wrangler.
The monster at the heart of the new "It: Chapter Two" film and the shape-shifting villain of Stephen King's classic horror novel now sits in the driver's seat next to Andrew Johnson, the owner of a modified SUV with a passenger-side steering wheel and a whole collection of creepy props and decals.
"People follow me," Johnson said. "I had a guy follow me up to Indianapolis so he could get pictures for his kids. I was like, ‘dude, this is really weird.’”
Weird, to be fair, has a different standard when Johnson and his Jeeps are involved. The Louisville resident and self-employed auto mechanic has spent the past six years dressing up his two SUVs to fit certain themes and putting on a show for people around the city.
He's decorated his Jeeps based around the "Resident Evil" movies and "The Nightmare Before Christmas." He drove around a Shark Week-themed vehicle recently with surfboards and a driver who looked like Quint at the end of "Jaws."
The "It" Jeep, though, has been his biggest hit yet.
It has decals with popular phrases and references to the movie. It has theatrical blood sprayed across its white exterior – "if it gets wet," Johnson said, "it actually drips." It has two arms pulling poor Georgie's yellow rain jacket into the Jeep's grill. And it has a 6-foot-3 clown with glowing eyes and trademark red balloons sitting in the driver's seat.
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A video of the Jeep shared on social media outlet Tik Tok has been viewed more than 1.2 million times, with 400,000-plus shares. Everywhere Johnson goes, people ask questions. He's a people person, he said, and it's a lot of fun, but when you "meet and talk to 100 people a day, minimum," it can be a little exhausting.
"I’ll come out from Kroger or somewhere, and there’s such a crowd around it I’ll just walk back in and go shopping some more," he said. "Wherever I go, I honestly have to plan an extra half hour just for pictures.”
Decorating the Jeep was the quick part – it all came together in 15 or so minutes, he said. What really took time was getting all the props.
The decals, with phrases that any fan of the book or films would understand, are made by his friend Wendy Taylor, a Jefferson County Public Schools teacher who prints them as a hobby. He tries to stock up on theatrical blood every year right after Halloween, when prices are cheapest, but a quick trip downtown to Caufield's Novelty can get him what he needs in a pinch.
And as for Pennywise? It didn't emerge from the Macroverse, like in the book – Johnson picked the clown up at a Menards in Indiana.
The Pennywise in the Jeep looks like the clown in the 2017 and 2019 films, but Johnson says Tim Curry, who played Pennywise in the 1990 cult classic "It" film, saw the Jeep and was so impressed he mailed Johnson an autographed photo.
Curry wasn't the only one who was impressed, and he wasn't the first. Johnson brought the Jeep out for the first time last month to the Louisville Zombie Walk along Bardstown Road, and it had the crowd screaming like the end of a horror flick.
“Oh my gosh, it was a hit," Johnson said. "Police had to keep people away when I tried to leave at like midnight. It was crazy.”
Since then, the Jeep has made appearances all over town. Johnson's taken it to two kids' birthday parties, he said, and "social media blew up" when he brought it by one of his kids' school. It turns heads on the highway, too – Johnson said he's learned to slow down to avoid crashes if he sees other drivers staring.
”I have to pay attention to the cars beside me paying attention to me," he said. "I’ve been doing this for six years, so I know how to drive with a mobile attraction.”
Johnson plans to take out the clown the day after Halloween and decorate the car to get ready for the release of "Zombieland: Double Tap," a sequel to the popular 2009 Woody Harrelson comedy set to hit theaters next month.
Bill Murray, who died in the first "Zombieland," will be behind the wheel, Johnson said, and Pennywise will "go downstairs with my collection of zombies and ghouls that I’ve put in other Jeeps – but he’ll probably make an appearance next year." His other Jeep is currently decorated around the "Fortnite" video game, but Johnson, who posts photos of his Jeeps frequently on his Facebook page, is going to switch it up and break out his "The Nightmare Before Christmas" theme again soon.
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But in the meantime, you have another month and a half to keep an eye out for Johnson's Jeep. Just don't get too close if Pennywise tells you they all float in the back seat.
"I get enjoyment out of driving it, but this is something I do for the community," Johnson said. "This is something I do for everybody. Some people may like it, some people may not, some people like my other ones, some people don’t, but it’s all in fun.
"If I’ve scared anybody, I kind of laughingly apologize – sort of, kind of, a little bit.”
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville man drives 'It' movie themed Jeep, with Pennywise driving