In Stephen King’s IT book, the shape-shifting monster takes on many forms it doesn’t in the adaptations, including multiple famous movie monsters.
In Stephen King’s IT book, the shape-shifting monster takes on many forms it doesn’t in the adaptations, including multiple famous movie monsters. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to deduce why that’s the case. Words on a page that reference a classic movie creature don’t require hiring a team of copyright lawyers to try and negotiate the numerous intellectual property legalities involved with actually reproducing that creature onscreen in a movie or miniseries. More practically, there are also budget concerns to think about, as the more forms IT turns into, the more money that needs to be spent on effects.
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That’s one thing that’s great about books, as an author can write whatever they please, and rely on the reader’s imagination to make it come to life, something much harder to accomplish in a primarily visual medium like film. The shape-shifting aspect of IT is arguably the monster’s scariest feature, as it’s easy enough to run away when one sees a scary clown, but much harder to escape if a target gets drawn in by a more pleasing appearance.
The reverse can also be of use to IT too though, as the more fear IT causes, the better its victims taste. Turning into a monster that someone has seen in a movie and possibly had nightmares about is a great way to season the meat, as it were. With that in mind, here’s all the movie monsters IT turned into in the book.
The Creature From The Black Lagoon
Also known as the Gill-man, Creature from the Black Lagoon‘s titular monster was one of the last of Universal Pictures’ “Classic Monsters” line-up to emerge, debuting onscreen in 1954. Two sequels followed, in 1955 and 1956. IT turns into the Gill-man before killing Eddie Corcoran, although if that wasn’t terrifying enough for the poor kid, IT had already appeared as his zombified little brother Dorsey. Eddie isn’t just killed either, the Gill-man rips his head clean off, because IT has absolutely no sympathy for its prey. Why would it though, believing itself to be a far superior being in every respect, and arguably being mostly right.
In the 1958 portions of IT, a young Mike Hanlon is targeted by IT in the form of a giant bird, near the Kitchener Ironworks. He manages to survive by hiding in a smokestack, but it’s a close call. In the book, the bird is described as being a combination of a crow that attacked Mike as a baby, and the flying kaiju known as Rodan. Mike had seen the Rodan film, making him a prime target for the use of that form, coupled with his lingering fear of birds in general.
When Richie and Bill first explore the dreaded house on Neibolt Street, the two encounter IT in the form of a werewolf. Not just any werewolf though, as – fitting the late 1950s setting – it’s the particular werewolf from the 1957 movie I Was a Teenage Werewolf, starring Michael Landon. In a nice touch, the school jacket it’s wearing is from Derry’s local high school. This particular transformation is actually one that made it into the 1990 miniseries, with Richie and the other Losers’ Club members seen watching the film beforehand.
One day, while walking home from school across the bridge over Derry Canal, Ben Hanscom is shocked to see first Pennywise, then IT in a Mummy form that he distinctly compares to Boris Karloff’s classic rendition in the 1932 movie The Mummy. Karloff would sadly never play the titular monster in any of the three sequels to The Mummy, although the equally legendary Lon Chaney Jr. would take over for two of them. IT took a mummy-esque form in the 1990 miniseries, but it was Stan who ran into it.
The Crawling Eye
A true relic of the 1950s, The Crawling Eye was a 1958 film also known as The Trollenberg Terror, which provided a villain that reflects exactly what one would expect based on the title. A giant eye might seem silly, and well, it kind of is. Still, if one were to encounter a giant disembodied eye in real life, it would still be a situation worthy of screaming one’s head off in fright. The Losers’ Club encounters the crawling eye monster in the sewers of Derry, and of course, Richie had seen the film.
The town of Derry found itself in need of a bigger boat, at least according to a kid named Tommy Vicananza, who claims to have seen the shark from Jaws prowling the Derry Canal for prey prior to the Losers’ Club’s return to town in 1985. According to Tommy, another boy had gotten eaten by the shark, and for those with a fear of the potential unseen terrors lurking in deep water, it’s a perfect choice for IT to disguise itself as. IT also turns into a school of piranhas at one point – which doesn’t seem to be a direct movie reference – so he’s got plenty of water game.
As an adult, shortly after his return to Derry, Ben Hanscom has another encounter at the public library, first with Pennywise and then with a vampire he dubs Dracula. However, the way this vampire is described is much more akin to the Nosferatu-esque Kurt Barlow from the 1979 adaptation of Salem’s Lot than Bela Lugosi or Frank Langella. In an additional crazy detail, the vampire is said to have a mouth full of Gillette razor blades. Oddly, this scene, minus the vampire aspect, is almost directly transposed to adult Richie in the 1990 miniseries.
Alongside the Losers’ Club’s and Eddie Corcoran’s run-ins with the Gill-man, Dracula, and the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster also made an appearance in IT, albeit the rendition from I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. Released in 1957 by the same company that put out I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein features a rather gnarly looking monster, as seen in the image above. It’s actually Henry Bowers and gang that gets accosted by the creature, with Victor Criss getting decapitated and Belch Huggins getting his face ripped off.
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