I have mixed feelings about the new reboot of Stephen King’s novel It as a full feature movie vs. the classic TV mini-series movie. I grew up on the fear of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. I read It when I was in grade school which should tell you that I was totally unsupervised as a child. No, that’s not true. I borrowed that book from one of my mom’s friends. My mom was bringing me these books. She worked nights and would come home in the morning with a grocery bag full of books. Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King, Dean Koontz. Why at least two moderately reasonable adults thought it was okay for me to be reading these I’ll never know and yet here we are.
So many things made the TV movie terrifying other than Pennywise. As if he wasn’t fucking scary enough. Seriously.
First, these were kids. I was a kid. That could have been me being murdered by a paranormal clown monster thing! Who did I identify with? The girl? Bev? No, no, no. Okay, a little bit. Tomboy-ish, friends with boys, ridiculously awful home life. But I think I identified more with the fat boy. Ben. Ben Hanscom. Overweight but nice. Good writer. Crush on someone way out of his league. Borderline stalker. This brings me to the next big fear: bullies.
Henry, oh, Henry. That kid was a nightmare in himself. Not just kid Henry, but adult Henry. His shade of fear is very real—sadistic, violent, and as an adult, mentally unfit. Granted, he went crazy after seeing the dead lights and his false confession of all the kid murders, but looking at it from a rational adult point of view he was a violent schizophrenic murderer with serious delusions. And then he escapes? And tries to kill everyone again?! Mental illness. Scary stuff.
Next: showering at school. I can’t remember ever having taken a shower at school. Fuck that nonsense. I don’t like people looking at me with my clothes on, let alone horrifying the world with my naked form. This scene with Eddie Spaghetti.
NOPE NOPE NOPE Like a fucking bug. Bugs out of the drain are a nightmare in itself. Then being naked. Then a bloodthirsty fucking awful clown. No thank you. NO THANK YOU.
The shower scene from Carrie may have also contributed to my fear of public showers in addition to my completely puritanical views on nudity. For myself, mind you. I don’t judge, go on and be your fabulous naked self. The clip is NSFW so don’t be a big baby about it:
The balloons. Thank you, Stephen King, for being such an amazing writer that an errant helium balloon can be wet-your-pants terrifying. I have gotten scared by my own fucking hair. MY OWN FUCKING HAIR. Out of the corner of my eye, a big black amorphous shadow crosses the room! Or, my own fucking hair. While normal people probably didn’t think the balloons were so terrifying, I thought they were scary as shit.
Finally, can we talk about childhood crushes? This whole group was a weird incestuous group of crushes and cross crushes and unrequited crushes. And they never let those crushes go.
They came back as adults and had the same fucking feelings.
This was terrifying to my younger, constantly crushing on someone, self. What if I grew up and never stopped liking that one guy from 6th grade? I have probably had a childhood crush on every boy in my class since kindergarten through senior year of high school, whether it was for a week or a month or two long agonizing years where I made a fool of myself every day but never would dare say anything and then he starts dating a girl and everyone I know tries to console me by saying “she’s not even pretty” like that is going to make me feel any better because if he is dating her and she’s not even pretty then what the fuck does that make me some kind of fucking bridge troll I should just kill myself and I don’t need to hear about how they were making out at a party and how it was totally gross because why can’t it be me making out with him at a party and being totally gross fuck off and shut up.
Like I was saying, I have mixed feelings about a new feature film reboot of It. Because I don’t think anything could strike that nightmare chord in my soul like the combination of reading the actual book and seeing the TV movie. Fears that are ingrained at a young age stick with you so hard and for me, there’s a strange part of me that doesn’t want to let that fear go. In a strange way, it’s a connection to my younger self. What can I say, I’m weird like that.