Author’s Note: There were a lot of complaints on social media and on the TBG website about my reaction to the “IT” remake trailer. There general consensus was that I didn’t read the book and I didn’t know what I was talking about. That or it was a click bait post by a 2 bit hack. Eventually, I had enough and on Facebook in particular, I posted the relevant passage from “IT” the novel where Georgie first meets Pennywise. I didn’t have a comment after that. This article has been updated 4/15/17 to include the same excerpt from the novel as evidence to back my claim that per the novel, Pennywise The Dancing Clown, was not a threatening, scary clown when he appeared to Georgie in the drain, unlike the Clown from the “IT” trailer. The excerpt from the novel follows the original post. – DG
I can confidently state that 90% of the TV and film adaptations of Stephen King’s literary works are garbage.
I LOVE Stephen King. When it comes to writing novels and telling good stories, I can think of no other writer that comes close. The immersive depth and intrigue in his writing has the ability to keep you guessing. Even years after completion, you still remember the books as if you were really there. For all of King’s literary successes and masterpieces, the one constant, persistent, dare I say, “evil” thing about his work is the way they are adapted into TV and film. This is why King fans, like yours truly, are terrified of The Dark Tower adaptation and have prejudged the IT remake with extreme intolerance.
Even with movies such as Carrie, Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile, or Misery; if you’re a purist, you know that as good as these movies were, they could have been so much better if the screenwriters, and Hollywood in general, had stuck to the source material. The novels have so much more depth than what we’ve been offered so far on the screen. It’s not that it’s impossible to properly adapt King’s works; it’s something that happens in the scriptwriting process where someone decides “oh yeah, instead of watching a guy drift into insanity, or the Black guy be the hero and live, let’s cast someone who already looks and acts insane, and let the Black guy die”, (i.e.The Shining). Or they say, “let’s take away the entire premise of people testifying about a horrible night at the prom and the murderous rampage at the end; let’s cut a bunch of stuff and go for dramatics instead,” (i.e. Carrie).
Granted, given how brilliant and creepy Tim Curry was in the original, even the IT of yesterday was a mere shadow of the horror and intensity of the novel. The one thing that the original IT movie did get right is that Pennywise, The Dancing Clown, was identical in the original to the source material. If you read IT the novel, and I will be rereading it before I see the current incarnation, Pennywise appeared non-threatening, or at least as much as any clown could, and that would lure the children into a false sense of security. The current Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgård, is absolutely terrifying on sight. What child in their right mind would accept a balloon from this clown, let alone hold a conversation?
They lost me right there with the visage of this Pennywise. You know on sight that this clown means you nothing but bodily harm. At least, Tim Curry’s Pennywise, though creepy, could convince you to take a chance, and take that offered balloon because after all, they do all float…
I expect another failed adaptation of a masterpiece. I don’t expect a page by page, paint by the numbers adaptation, I never do, but so far, IT (2017) looks like another modern faux horror film, promising some jump scares, gore, and a little creep factor, but no substance. Substance is one of the things that makes King and his novels literary treasures and I’m not a fan of a rehash of Insidious with a clown.
4/15/17 “IT” Excerpt Addition:
“What a stupid way to lose the boat!
He got up and walked over to the stormdrain. He dropped to his knees and peered in. The water made a dank hollow sound as it fell into the darkness. It was a spooky sound. It reminded him of —
‘Huh!’ The sound was jerked out of him as if on a string, and he recoiled.
There were yellow eyes in there: the sort of eyes he had always imagined but never actually seen down in the basement. It’s an animal, he thought incoherently, that’s all it is,some animal, maybe a housecat that got stuck down in there —
Still, he was ready to run — would run in a second or two, when his mental switchboard had dealt with the shock those two shiny yellow eyes had given him. He felt the rough surface of the macadam under his fingers, and the thin sheet of cold water flowing around
them. He saw himself getting up and backing away, and that was when a voice — a perfectly reasonable and rather pleasant voice — spoke to him from inside the stormdrain.
‘Hi, Georgie,’ it said.
George blinked and looked again. He could barely credit what he saw; it was like something from a made-up story, or a movie where you know the animals will talk and dance. If he had been ten years older, he would not have believed what he was seeing, but he was not sixteen. He was six.
There was a clown in the stormdrain. The light in there was far from good, but it was good enough so that George Denbrough was sure of what he was seeing. It was a clown, like in the circus or on TV. In fact he looked like a cross between Bozo and Clarabell, who talked by honking his (or was it her? — George was never really sure of the gender) horn on Howdy Doody Saturday mornings — Buffalo Bob was just about the only one who could understand Clarabell, and that always cracked George up. The face of the clown in the stormdrain was white, there were funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head, and there was a big clown-smile painted over his mouth. If George had been inhabiting a later year, he would have surely thought of Ronald McDonald before Bozo or Clarabell.
The clown held a bunch of balloons, all colors, like gorgeous ripe fruit in one hand.
In the other he held George’s newspaper boat.
‘Want your boat, Georgie?’ The clown smiled.
George smiled back. He couldn’t help it; it was the kind of smile you just had to answer. ‘I sure do,’ he said.
The clown laughed. ‘”I sure do.” That’s good! That’s very good! And how about a balloon?’
‘Well . . . sure!’ He reached forward . . . and then drew his hand reluctantly back. ‘I’m not supposed to take stuff from strangers. My dad said so.’
‘Very wise of your dad,’ the clown in the stormdrain said, smiling. How, George wondered, could I have thought his eyes were yellow? They were a bright, dancing blue, the color of his mom’s eyes, and Bill’s. ‘Very wise indeed. Therefore I will introduce myself. I, Georgie, am Mr Bob Gray, also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise, meet George Denbrough. George, meet Pennywise. And now we know each other. I’m not a stranger to you, and you’re not a stranger to me. Kee-rect?’
George giggled. ‘I guess so.’ He reached forward again . . . and drew his hand back again. ‘How did you get down there?’
‘Storm just bleeeew me away,’ Pennywise the Dancing Clown said. ‘It blew the whole circus away. Can you smell the circus, Georgie?’
George leaned forward. Suddenly he could smell peanuts! Hot roasted peanuts! And vinegar! The white kind you put on your french fries through a hole in the cap! He could smell cotton candy and frying doughboys and the faint but thunderous odor of wild –animal shit. He could smell the cheery aroma of midway sawdust. And yet . . .
And yet under it all was the smell of flood and decomposing leaves and dark stormdrain shadows. That smell was wet and rotten. The cellar-smell.
But the other smells were stronger.
‘You bet I can smell it,’ he said.
‘Want your boat, Georgie?’ Pennywise asked. ‘I only repeat myself because you really do not seem that eager.’ He held it up, smiling. He was wearing a baggy silk suit with great big orange buttons. A bright tie, electric – blue, flopped down his front, and on his hands were big white gloves, like the kind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck always wore.
‘Yes, sure,’ George said, looking into the stormdrain.
‘And a balloon? I’ve got red and green and yellow and blue . . . . ‘
‘Do they float?’
‘Float?’ The clown’s grin widened. ‘Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy . . . . ‘
The clown seized his arm.
And George saw the clown’s face change.”
Excerpt From: Stephen King. “It.” iBooks.