If you read my review of The Stand, you know that I couldn’t get beyond the made-for-tv movie I’d seen so many times. It ruined the book for me. I was really worried that that would happen with It, but I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. I think that happened for a couple of reasons: 1. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie as many times as I’d seen The Stand. I’m pretty sure that I’d usually fall asleep by the time the second half starts, so there were parts of the book that I’d assumed I’d forgotten about in the movie that, as it turned out, weren’t even in the movie at all. 2. The movie is soooooo different than the book. What’s funny is that while it’s soooooo different, it’s essentially almost exactly the same. I’ll get to that.
You’re probably familiar with at least the gist of the plot, even if you haven’t seen or read it (I say that, but I didn’t know what Salem’s Lot was about…): A bunch of kids in Derry, Maine, are killed, including ten-year-old Bill Denborough’s brother. Bill and six of his friends track down the monster, who usually appears as the adorable (heh) Pennywise the Dancing Clown. They go into the sewers to fight it, and they think they killed it, but they aren’t sure, so they promise to come back if it reappears. Which it does, about 27 years later, when they’re all adults. Scary things happen.
So. In a lot of ways, It was exactly what I expected after seeing the movie so many times. In other ways, it was not at all like it. I won’t spoil the fun (heh again), but there’s a scene in the book when they’re kids, just after they’ve defeated It, that is…surprising – and, I think, shocking and unnecessary. (WTF, Stephen King? You know exactly what I’m talking about.) Otherwise, a lot of the differences between the book and the movie were probably made for budgetary reasons, especially when it was made around 1990, before the heyday of CGI. Which makes me excited about the new one in the works: It is the perfect movie for a CGI makeover. I’m generally not one to get excited about movie remakes, but this is an exception. There’s a whole world in the book that couldn’t translate well to film without CGI. The only problem, of course, is that Tim Curry will always be Pennywise in my head, and I can’t imagine anyone else playing him. For the rest? They can do better. The book isn’t half as corny as the made-for-TV movie. (I guess I should put a spoiler alert on this video, in case you don’t know what It is.)
This isn’t really a review, is it. (Are my reviews ever reviews?) If you’re a fan of Mr. Stephenking and you haven’t read It, you should. Yeah, it’s long. Now that I’ve read several, I think I can claim that it’s one of his best, though none so far can touch the Dark Tower series.
Oh! I forgot about the Dark Tower references! If you read my reviews regularly, you probably also know that I’ve become a Dark Tower (and Stephen King) junkie, and I get tremendously excited when I see a Dark Tower reference in a Stephen King novel. And there are lots. The turtle, one of the beams, makes an appearance, and It itself is some sort of relation to another important character in the series. There are also the little mentions peppered around just like in the rest of his novels. So much fun!
Is It a good place to start with our friend Mr. Stephenking, you ask? Yes, indeed. Possibly the best, though The Shining might be a little more accessible just because it’s shorter. And most people seem to like Salem’s Lot, though I didn’t. As much as I love the Dark Tower series, I wouldn’t start there. But God forbid, don’t start with The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon. I’m still annoyed at that one.