Courtesy of Hilary Busis at Vanity Fair: At one point in the new adaptation of It, poor Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor) goes on a literal Easter egg hunt. His search, naturally, ends with a horrifying discovery—but what the character may not realize is that he’s surrounded by Easter eggs all the time, sly little references to both the Stephen King novel on which It is based and the TV miniseries adaptation that scarred a generation of children in 1990.
Below, find the eight hidden callbacks found while watching the film for the first time (and know that given the obsessive nature of both King fans and the modern blockbuster industry, there are most likely more where these came from). It may go without saying, but, spoilers for both the movie and King’s novel follow.
Hero in a Half Shell
The real hero in It the book turns out to be a mystical turtle god, creator of all life and eternal enemy of It itself. (His name is Maturin, and he has a long and complicated role in the Stephen King multiverse.) While there may be no direct callout to the celestial terrapin in the new movie, there are at least two turtle references. The first comes when the Losers are swimming and one mentions seeing a turtle in the water; the second comes when Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) finds a turtle made of Legos in his dead younger brother’s untouched room. The creation, alas, ends up being another casualty of It; Bill drops it when he’s surprised by a manifestation of the evil spirit.
Hello, Tim Curry!
Bill Skarsgård’s dandified Pennywise is a far cry from the sinister Ronald McDonald that Tim Curry played in the original It miniseries—but if you look closely at the roomful of clowns that Richie (Finn Wolfhard) stares down while trapped in that terrifying house on Neibolt Street, you’ll notice that one of the jokers is actually styled to look just like Curry in his original clown get up. He’s on the left side of the screen, and visible in this trailer around the 2:10 mark.
Derry History 101
Weighing in at a hefty 1,163 pages, King’s novel takes plenty of detours into the strange and violent history of Derry, Maine, a place that has been plagued by unusual disasters basically since the dawn of time. Though the movie doesn’t spend much time enumerating the various catastrophes King delves into, it does make mention of several of them. Ben comes across archival newspaper stories that mention a few while doing research in the library. The kids also reference the Black Spot, a nightclub that catered to Derry’s black population and was “burned down years ago by that racist cult,” while Mike (Chosen Jacobs) makes a delivery to a butcher located next to a mural featuring a painting of the infamous Bradley Gang shoot-out. Both the Black Spot and the Bradley Gang get their own dedicated chapters in the novel version of It.
“He Thrusts His Fists Against the Posts . . .”
In the movie, Bill absently tries to recite this phrase: “he thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts” in order to rid himself of his stutter. He never makes it all the way through, but those who have read the book know that the phrase will play a key role in his ultimate defeat of It. (Interestingly enough, the original tongue twister is something of an Easter egg itself; King lifted it from the 1942 sci-fi novel Donovan’s Brain, where the hero recites it in order to help him resist the [hypnotic power] of the titular evil.
King’s It often takes the form of old Universal movie monsters the Mummy, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, when he terrorizes the children of Derry. Because the flashback action in the movie has been shifted from the 50s to the 80s, those dated monsters were largely nixed from the film, though, during the Losers’ final battle with It, the creature does briefly attack Ben in the form of the Mummy, a throwback to its manifestations in the novel.
Love, Derry Style
Before he’s brutally slaughtered by It, wicked bully Patrick Hockstetter (Owen Teague) is confronted with a red balloon that slowly turns, revealing a message: “I Heart Derry.” That should be familiar to book readers, who will remember that the novel’s second chapter concerns the murder of a gay man named Adrian Mellon, who’s killed in an It-inspired hate crime at the annual Derry carnival—where “I Heart Derry” merch is everywhere. Mellon even dies wearing an “I Heart Derry” hat. (His brutal death was based on a real murder committed in the summer of 1984.)
An aerial shot of the Derry town square in the film reveals a hideous, colorful Paul Bunyan statue, which, in the book, comes to life to terrorize Richie. Both statues are based on this actual fiberglass monstrosity, which towers over Bass Park in Bangor, Maine.
The Last Losers
Pay attention to the order in which the Losers leave their circle at the end of the movie, after swearing to return to Derry as adults should Pennywise ever resurface. The first one to depart is Stan; the next is Eddie. In the book, this is the order in which the Losers die: Stan slits his own wrists to avoid having to face It again, while Eddie is killed during their final skirmish with the creature. (That’s good news, perhaps, for Bill and Beverly (Sophia Lillis in the movie), the last two to leave.)
While Hollywood has suffered one of the worst summers in years, the horror genre is laughing all the way to the bank. Universal kicked the year off with massive successes, including Jordan Peele’s Get Out and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, both topping $250 million worldwide. Even David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation could topple $300m. While we’re all celebrating these successes none are as important as Warner Bros./New Line Cinema’s IT, which has shattered September records by topping $100 million during its opening weekend.
That $117 million is just in the States, with early international reports just coming in adding $62m to the total. Early Sunday morning estimates have the worldwide gross at $179 million. A $500+ million worldwide total would be some accomplishment, at this stage that looks likely and something no one was saying before last Thursday!
IT could initiate a revival in bigger budget horror…