The 'It' (Movie) Cut the Scariest Monster From the Stephen King Novel
Richie Tozier's It encounter is very different in King's original novel.
In Stephen King’s original 1986 novel, the Losers Club stumble over dust-laden floorboards and around corners in the ramshackle house on Neibolt Street in Derry, Maine, to escape the claws of a would-be classic monster: a werewolf. This scene, one of the most memorable in the novel, directly links to the group’s first defeat of It via “silver slugs;” and it’s also essentially nonexistent in the new movie adaptation of It.
This post contains spoilers for It (movie, 2017), It (TV show, 1990), and It (novel, 1986).
In King’s novel, It takes the form of the werewolf from I Was a Teenage Werewolf, letter jacket and all, to scare the shit-talk out of Richie more than once, including a romp through the Neibolt Street house.
Werewolves can be terrifying, especially when written by King, but this is the 2017 version of It, so the titular monster is the real terror of the town — “classic” monsters can’t hold a candle to Pennywise the Dancing Clown and most of It’s other forms. The original book involved mummies and werewolves (oh, my), but considering the film’s jump to the ‘80s from the book’s original ‘50s setting, it was unrealistic for these lil’ punk to be terrified of 30-year-old monster movies in 2017’s It.
That seems to be why director Andrés Muschietti and his team behind the new film adaptation of King’s It dialed down on It’s various manifestations outside of Pennywise. Yes, Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) is still plagued by a dripping leper, Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) is haunted by the ghost of his dead brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), Beverly (Sophia Lillis) is inundated by gushing blood, and Ben has a brief run-in with a mummy, but Pennywise popped in almost every time to deliver the final scare.
Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Stan (Wyatt Oleff), though, had their defining frights entirely changed up, which resulted in probably one of the biggest disappointments of the movie: Richie “Trash Mouth” Tozier doesn’t almost get eaten by the titular character of I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
The 1990 limited television series version of It includes the werewolf. It’s cheesy, exactly what you would expect of a ‘90s werewolf that references a ‘50s-era horror film in the basement of a ‘50s grade school. There’s no werewolf in 2017’s It. That also means that there aren’t any silver slugs to be seen.
The closest thing to an appearance the werewolf makes in the new film is in the Niebolt house, right before the creature gets speared in the head and has to retreat to the sewers. It, with its characteristic mouth of needle-sharp teeth, grows a hand that looks like it could be a werewolf’s, ditching the white clown glove for claws. But there’s no full transformation. Despite any disappointment book fans might feel, it’s a change that makes sense. Richie was terrified of the werewolf because he’d just seen I Was a Teenage Werewolf in theaters. Considering the time change from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, the scare would have to be more relevant for him (something like, say, a room full of clowns and his own death and disappearance).
It’s the myth of the werewolf (that only a silver bullet can kill one) that, in the book, encourages the kids to get a couple of pure silver slugs for Bev to launch at It with a leather slingshot. Just like in the movie, Bev’s one hell of a shot; it just so happens that, in the movie, Bev’s shooting with rocks rather than silver slugs.
In 2017’s It the silver slugs are replaced with Mike’s grandfather’s bolt gun, the one used to kill sheep on the Hanlon family farm. The gun’s more than an ample replacement, but it’s also a heavy-handed metaphor; the kids refuse to be sheep in It’s game. By using the weapon meant to kill sheep against Pennywise, the kids (or, rather, the supposed “sheep”) are taking back control of their lives.
Check out Inverse’s review of It.
It premieres in theaters on September 8.