Clowns were always scary, but then Stephen King showed up. In 1986, King published IT, which featured seven scrappy kids called The Losers Club, who dealt against a child-murdering, shape-shifting clown named Pennywise, a devious entity that was infesting their hometown of Derry, Maine.
Derry had appeared in several King books before IT, involving “Pet Cemetery” and the novella “The Body,” which acted as the source material for the movie “Stand By Me”, but it wasn’t until IT HD movie that fans really know the dark history and demon hiding in the sewers of the fictional Maine town.
With King’s huge novel sitting around 1,138 pages, the bloody stories of Derry’s darkest days are shown across multiple time periods. But, as with so many movie adaptations of epic books, not everything in the novel makes the final cut. Even 1990’s IT mini-series on TV, which lasts three hours and twelve minutes, doesn’t fulfill everything King crammed into his legendary detailed novel. Beware of the following spoilers!
Fortunately, the new movie is pretty faithful to the novel, due in part to the moviemakers’ decision to divide the story into two parts. The opening scene showing Georgie’s murder is almost beat-for-beat taken from the novel’s opening chapter, with one major exception: In the IT 2017 film, Georgie’s body is never recovered. As fans long waited to see this year’s second major Stephen King adaptation on the screen, here are six main changes the movie makes that are different from the novel.
The Time Period
The most instant difference between the two is the time period. In King’s work, the event is set between 1984-1985, when the Losers Club’s members are adults. Throughout the novel there are tons of flashbacks to 1957-1958, when Bill’s younger brother, Georgie, is killed and the team take on Pennywise for the first time.
But the movie, perhaps based on the ’80s nostalgia triggered by “Stranger Things” (in which Finn Wolfhard also stars), has the Losers Club growing up during the 1980s, add New Kids on the Block gags and nods to “Batman” and “Street Fighter”. As IT movie 2017 is in fact Chapter One of the story, and the movie’s sequel, which is being written but still hasn’t actually been green-lit, will narrate the Losers Club when they reunite as adults 27 years later, Chapter Two will now happen in the present day.
Perhaps one of the most iconic aspects of IT movie 2017 is Pennywise’s power to transform into each child’s personal terror. With the kids in the book growing up during the prime of B-monster film craze, Pennywise takes on the appearance of some of the most epic film monsters of all time, involving The Mummy, The Wolfman, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.
Although it might have been amazing to see Pennywise transform into some iconic ones from the 1980s – the movie was released by New Line Cinema and does appear “A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child” playing in the town’s film theater – only Eddie’s oozing leper actually makes it. Bill, of course, is haunted by Georgie, but Mike doesn’t see a huge bird, and Stan doesn’t see drowned kids. Richie’s werewolf is gone, and while the movie features the iconic Paul Bunyan statue, it doesn’t come to life. Still, the movie does upgrade Beverly’s iconic bloody sink sequence, making it even more darker, and it’s doubtlessly one of the best details in the movie.
The book is loosely narrated by Mike Hanlon, who is Derry’s librarian when he grows older, and who is responsible for gathering the Loser’s Club back to Derry for the final clash. Mike has spent much of his life gathering information about the town’s deep history, which all appear to link to the appearance of a clown who is either seen before a major tragedy, like the Easter Sunday Kitchener Ironworks explosion in 1906, which killed 88 children, or an act of bloodlust by the residents, where he eggs on citizens and joins murder.
In the movie, the role of historian is transferred to Ben, who showed the rest of the Losers Club the town’s history with his own homemade scrapbook. And this isn’t the sole change to Mike’s character. While he has a special connection with his father in the book, Mike lost his parents in a fire (something Pennywise uses against him in one of the more’s more gruesome images), and he now resides on a farm with his grandfather.
Henry Bowers and his gang
Rest easy, the dangerous and sadistic Henry Bowers and his crew still haunt the streets of the new cinematic Derry. Henry still has it out for Ben, letting Ben meet Bill and Eddie, although they aren’t making a dam this time. Although the movie is over two hours long, it still doesn’t quite capture how much of a restless threat Henry is for the Losers in the novel. He swoops in every now and then, the epic rock fight still happens, but the movie definitely takes its time to regard Pennywise as a constant threat instead, which certainly isn’t bad at all.
Despite a reduced presence, Henry’s character is still quite close to the novel, and while his father has been updated to an abusive cop, rather than a farmer, Henry still has his revenge courtesy of a gift wrapped knife from Pennywise. One huge exception, which will likely be shown in the sequel, is that Henry appears to meet his end during the movie’s final showdown with Pennywise. He also doesn’t see Victor or Belch get killed by Pennywise, and doesn’t take the blame for the murders.
Patrick Hockstetter also appears, but he meets his end early on in the sewers, without any hint of his petrifying murderer behavior that is depicted so chillingly in the novel.
That Controversial Sex Scene
One of the more outrageous details in King’s novel happens just after the Losers outclass (or so they think) Pennywise as children. The gang begins to row and splinter apart after the traumatic event, and ends up lost in the sewers. To bond them back together, as the novel constantly stresses the importance of their circle of seven, Beverly undresses and offers herself to the group. It’s an odd and extremely-inappropriate scene, the influence of which even King didn’t fully anticipate.
There’s so much the movie gets right with Bev, and so much it doesn’t. It turns Bev into a damsel-in-distress type, allowing Pennywise to kidnap her as a way of tricking the Losers into his lair. Much like Audra years later, Bev sees the deadlights and floats in a catatonic state – until being woke up by a kiss from Ben. It’s a cheap trick that stands out as one of the movie’s few major mistakes. Bev was always brave enough to go into the sewers and didn’t have to be taken there as bait.