IT is...SCARY!

IT is also a lovely treat with some seriously spooky fun! Too many film adaptations from Stephen King novels miss the mark, but this one hit it with a sledge hammer. The story takes place in the fictional small town of Derry, in New England, which is a thin disguise for Stephen King’s hometown of Bangor, Maine.

Horrifying events occur in Derry every 27 years. Buildings burn down, with people in them. Explosions take place, children go missing and those numbers keep growing. A group of young friends in their early teens, known as The Losers, decide that they must confront whatever IT is that has caused so many to go missing in the sewers of Derry when one of their own is taken.

The Losers are each stalked by IT which takes the form of whatever frightens them the most. ITs common appearance though is that of a horrifying clown named Pennywise. In the first adaptation of IT, Pennywise was played quite well by Tim Curry. He was delicious as a big bad clown that stole children away into the sewers. Yikes! In this version Bill Skarsgård breathes life into the killer clown. More complex visual effects were used and they complimented his performance, turning this Pennywise into an abysmal horror champion.

The book, similar to many of King’s works, is quite long. The movie chronicles the first half of the story and does it extremely well. During the ending of this film, there was a hint of a sequel. Based on the quality of this film, I would welcome what these filmmakers could bring to us with the second half of the book when our heroes are all grown up and must come together again 27 years later to determine if Pennywise is still a threat or not.

I get delightful chills just thinking about the prospects, not only for a sequel to tell the rest of the story, but the possibilities of perhaps Andy Muschietti (the director) taking on more Stephen King books. Oh…yes please! There is an abstract quality to King’s writing that frequently eludes the ability of the filmmaker to translate his writing to a visual medium, however, Muschietti made this translation appear effortless.

The book IT released in the fall of 1986. At that time I was up in New England once a month for work, and, knew his book was coming out. I bought the book as soon as hit the shelves, literally, in a small bookstore I found in Massachusetts, then, I took off for a few days to drive around New England admiring the fall foliage during the day and boarding myself up in whatever little motel I found along the way so I could read my book at night.

This was years before the internet appears to take over our lives, and where oh where was I going to find a dictionary in the middle of New England on a weekend. Nowhere actually. In the book IT King makes reference to a structure called a standpipe where much of the story takes place. I was having a terrible time trying to visualize what this thing was. A sewer of some type? Why was it above ground? During one of my overnight stays, I wrote King a quick letter on the hotel stationery and asked him what a standpipe was.

Just over a week later I was back at my home, which at that time was in Baltimore, Maryland. There was a letter waiting for me from Stephen King. He had sent back to me the letter I had written to him on the hotel stationery and under my writing he hand wrote a little note explaining to me what a standpipe was. It is a vertical pipe for water storage by the way, and some, like the one in Derry, can be quite large.

Thank you Mr. King!

In 2011, he released his book about the Kennedy assassination called 11.22.63. In the story he again referenced a standpipe, however, this time, he wrote a thorough description in the book. I like to think he did that because of my question from so many years ago.

Stranger things have happened.

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The greatness of a nation and it's moral progress can be judged by the way it's animals are treated - Mahatma Ghandi

©  Briar Lee Mitchell, 2014