Matthew R. Davies
Welsh Bookworm, Horror-Nerd, Musician, Freelancer and Aspiring Writer of the Macabre
*****FILM AND BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD*****
IT has been a long wait, but Pennywise will finally be returning to our screens in IT: Chapter 2 this September. Being the much-anticipated follow up to Andrés Muschietti’s record-breaking IT: Chapter 1, this new film has some rather big (and floppy) shoes to fill.
The production team involved in the upcoming release, have promised a more shocking and gore-filled picture, which are, two factors that have led this writer (in true Bill Skarsgård style) to drool in anticipation. Two years have elapsed since the original film (supported by one of the most memorable marketing campaigns in recent memory) dropped just before Halloween 2017 to worldwide success and critical admiration.
Adapted from Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel, IT is both a horror and a bittersweet coming-of-age story.
The narrative follows the adventures of the Loser’s Club, or more specifically, Bill Denbrough, Beverly Mars, Richie Tozier, Eddie Kaspbrak, Stanley Uris, Ben Hanscom and Mike Hanlon, who all hail, from the fictional town of Derry, Maine. In the first film, as Derry’s children (including Bill’s younger brother, Georgie) start to go missing, they begin to experience a series of terrifying encounters with the fearful Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Otherwise known as IT, Pennywise is a malevolent, shapeshifting entity that gluttonously feeds on the fear of Derry’s young population before devouring them, in increasingly grotesque ways. IT is as old as the land it resides in and throughout the ages, has systematically risen from its slumber every 27 years, to enact a bloody campaign, upon the town.
IT: The Novel, the Adaptations and the Changes
The novel is over a thousand pages long, so as you can imagine, adapting the tale was going to be a serious undertaking that required some careful planning.
King’s book steadily bounces back and forth between the Loser’s Club as children, to 27 years later, after they’ve reached adulthood. Sensibly, IT: Chapter 1 follows the young Loser’s Club’s story exclusively, which is a narrative construction which was also, utilised in the original, Tim Curry-led, IT Miniseries.
In the upcoming sequel, having broken the cycle early at the end of IT: Chapter 1, the now-adult Loser’s Club begin to experience instances of the old weirdness again.
Now living separate lives, they are (thanks to Mike) drawn back to Derry to face Pennywise once again. The first film, although true to the spirit of the novel, excluded a range of scenes and features, for the purposes of cinematic coherency.
Modernisation and Nostalgia
In the film, the story is set in the 1980s, rather than the 1950s and features a score of updated monsters that were not present in the book. This was probably a wise decision, as it seems unlikely that the children of the 80s would be scared of a mummy or a werewolf, when Freddy Krueger was haunting the cinemas at the time.
For those of you that have read the book, you will know that there were some pretty disturbing passages that were omitted, as well as some fairly major character changes.
However, we were undeterred by this, as any fan of the book will understand that this is bound to occur, with such vast and non-linear source material. However, there are certain things from the novel we’d like to see in IT: Chapter 2, or at the very least, be offered a nod to.
What a lot of people don’t seem to realise it that, the scope of this novel is far greater than a scary clown terrorising a town. IT in fact, goes far beyond the physical reality of Earth and has perhaps one of the strangest, yet most fascinating, origin stories in all of King’s novels.
It is a tale that involves parallel universes, giant cosmic turtles, rituals and prehistoric alien beings…well sort of. So, without further ado, let’s dive into our picks, for things from the book, that we’d like to appear in IT: Chapter 2.
1. The Development of Mike Hanlon
One of Muschietti’s more controversial choices was to award Mike Hanlon’s book-worm/ researcher role to Ben Hanscom. In the book, Mike remains in Derry for his whole life and operates as the Loser’s Club’s fountain of knowledge when it comes to understanding Pennywise’s 27-year cycle.
He becomes the town librarian, which is a role that allows him unparalleled access to Derry’s historical records.
Mike possesses certain information, that gives the group knowledge of the town’s traumatic events, during the instances when IT appears.
In IT: Chapter One, Mike’s vision sees him witness his parents die in a fire. This is evidently a nod to the fire that destroyed an African-American nightclub known as ‘The Black Spot’ in the book.
This is recounted by Mike’s father, who in the novel, is a terminal cancer patient in the local hospital.
Whatever reason Muschietti had for changing these particular features, it is safe to assume that fans would like to see Mike doing more in this new film, as in Chapter 1, he feels rather undeveloped.
2. The Death of Stan Uris
This may sound rather morbid, but who could possibly forget the iconic IT scrawled haphazardly on the bathroom wall in the blood of Stan Uris. This was featured in both the book and the original miniseries, as a transitionary scene between the world of the kids and the return of the adults.
After Mike starts to notice the all-too-familiar signs of Pennywise’s return in Derry, he proceeds to ring up the other members of the Loser’s Club, to remind them of the blood oath that they took.
Stan, absolutely terrified of returning to face the malicious clown, decides to take his fate into his own hands.
As disturbing as this may be, this is an important scene. With Stan gone, the unique bond that the group possess has been weakened, resulting in, Pennywise overcoming the power that the Club have as a result of being unified. Now IT may regain the upper hand and enact vengeance...
3. The Smoke-Hole
Despairingly omitted from Chapter 1, the smoke-hole scene is a firm fan favourite and for good reason. It is our first clear hint as to Pennywise’s true origins. After Ben learns of an ancient Native American ritual that involves smoke inhalation as a means of inducing spiritual visions, the gang dig a hole in the Barrens, light a fire inside, climb in and cover it with a trap-door.
What follows, is a lot of coughing and feeling ill, until the Loser’s climb out one-by-one. Only Richie and Mike remain in the smoke-hole, where, they experience a terrifying vision that entails them travelling back to prehistoric times, to witness the arrival of IT on an asteroid.
It is a very strange scene, but one that is incredibly memorable. IT is seen to have not originated on this planet at all, but is rather, extra-terrestrial in origin, but is even that entirely true?
4. The Return of Henry Bowers
You would think that the Loser’s Club have enough on their plate, with an inter-dimensional space clown to deal with, but they also have to outmanoeuvre the psychotic Henry Bowers. As we know, Bowers murdered his own father in Chapter 1, before tearing after the Loser’s club, only to be thrown unceremoniously down a well.
In the novel, Bowers is blamed for the original child murders and ends up being tossed into Juniper Hill Metal Asylum, where after many years, he begins to be terrorised by the reanimated corpses of his dead friends and of course, Pennywise.
Henry, under the control of IT, escapes from the Asylum to enact his vengeance on the grown-up Loser’s Club. Ol’ Henry has quite a big part to play in all of this and it would be a shame for him not to have some final say in the outcome of Chapter 2.
5. The Bradley Gang
Over the course of history, Pennywise has appeared in Derry every 27 years in different forms and guises. During these times, terrible events occur within the town.
As of yet, only The Black Spot and the Easter Ironworks Explosion have been alluded to, but there is one more interlude from the novel that is worthy of admission.
Mike discovers that in October 1929, a notorious mobster named Al Bradley had been using the outskirts of Derry as a hideout. Al comes into town to order ammunition from a local gun store, but little does he know, he is recognised.
The following day, when he comes to pick up the ammunition, every man in Derry is waiting for him and armed to the teeth. They proceed to shoot the gang and their female companions to smithereens, all the while, rejoicing in the carnage.
Afterwards it is revealed that a strange man had been flitting amongst the crowd during all of this. A man dressed in a clown outfit.
6. Mrs Kersh
Before the final trailer dropped for IT: Chapter 2, we were treated to an extended clip from one of the novel’s most jaw-droppingly terrifying scenes, that of Mrs Kersh.
The grown-up Beverly travels back to her abusive father’s house, in a touching moment, that was intended to provide the distraught Bev with some closure on her traumatic childhood. Her father has since left and the house is now resided by sweet old Mrs Kersh, who invites her in for a spot of tea.
But there is something seriously wrong with Mrs Kersh. The elderly lady begins to develop some rather strange attributes and becomes increasingly manic in her demeanour while, flitting from room to room, completely naked.
Bev notices a picture on the wall, of what may only be described as a historical picture of a man, who looks an awful lot like Pennywise…This is another fan favourite, a scene that we hope, the production team do the justice it truly deserves.
7. The Chinese Restaurant
After Mike manages to convince the Loser’s Club to return to Derry, he proposes that they all meet at a Chinese restaurant known as the Jade of the Orient. Reunited, the group proceed to reacquaint themselves with each other, while tucking into what they believe to be, a lovely meal.
However, when the fortune cookies arrive, they are in for a horrifying surprise, as each cookie is tailor made for each of the individual members and contain a score of disgusting treats, courtesy of Pennywise.
This scene was one of the standout moments from the original miniseries and it would appear, that it is getting a worked into the upcoming film.
8. The Ritual of CHŰD
This is where it gets weird. As mentioned earlier in the smoke-hole section, it has been suggested that IT actually originates somewhere off-planet. Well, this is true.
In the final showdown, Bill is transported into a parallel dimension where he encounters Maturin, an enormous interdimensional turtle (and one of the 12 guardians of the Dark Tower. T.D.T. is King’s immense, 13 book fantasy series and his magnum opus), who lends Bill a helping hand in defeating Pennywise.
It is revealed that IT is very familiar with this cosmic turtle and is almost as old. Maturin tells Bill of the Ritual of Chűd, wherein, the children must perform a psychic battle in which, their innocence is the greatest weapon against the evil that Pennywise exhibits.
It’s all rather muddled, but fascinating nonetheless. The novel’s more fantastic elements have been downplayed thus far, although, there are a few nods to Maturin in Chapter 1, if you look closely. Remember the Lego?
There you have it, our choices for scenes from the novel that we would like to see in the upcoming IT: Chapter 2. The new film stars James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, Bill Hader as Richie, James Ransone as Eddie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, Andy Bean as Stan and of course, Bill Skarsgård will be returning as Pennywise.
Now that the trailer has officially dropped, excitement for the film has reached astronomical levels. Advanced tickets in America have already sold out and the terrifying marketing campaign has begun, with red balloons appearing all over the place.
Lets just hope that this latest film doesn’t inspire any more of those creepy ‘killer clown’ appearances again. Just don’t do it guys, it’s not worth it!
Now, what did you make of our list? Are there any vital scenes that we left out? Are you happy with the choices Andrés Muschietti made in terms of casting, plot change and characterisation?
What is your favourite Stephen King novel and how does IT stack up against the rest? This writer is currently reading The Stand (the uncut one), which I believe is the ONLY King novel longer than IT.
As always, leave us your comments below.