Greetings, and welcome back to Horror Business, the podcast that on which everything floats…and now that you’re here with us, you’ll float too.
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We apologize in advance for the sound quality of this episode at times, as we had an issue with the Skype connection.
This episode we are joined by Brendan Foley of Black Sun Dispatches and our first returning guest John Wren of The Mandate (both of which are available at www.cinepunx.com) to help us tackle Andy Muschietti’s recent cinematic interpretation of Stephen King’s magnum opus: It.
We begin by talking about what horror related things we had done lately. Brendan talks about his recent rewatching of An American Werewolf In London for Cinapse’s Two Cents feature, and John talks about his rewatching of the Evil Dead trilogy. Justin is lame as hell and hasn’t done anything, but Liam discusses watching Paranorman with his daughter!
We open up by discussing our first introduction to Stephen King’s novel and the 1990 miniseries. Justin has already talked about his feelings on It in this piece he wrote for Cinepunx and the review he wrote for It as well as the episode of Test Patterns he wrote into the matter, so we don’t need to hear from him at all on the matter. Brendan talks about reading the book for the first time in middle school and how it was his introduction to horror, but also admits to not revering the book the way many King fans (like Justin) do. He discusses the shortcomings of some of King’s longer works, and how often King does best when he’s writing short and streamlined works. John talks about how he read the book relatively early on as well, as it was introduced to him by an uncle who got him into Stephen King. He talks about how in his opinion It is the best representation of Stephen King, and how the book actually magnifies many of King’s strength as a writer. Justin briefly talks about how the weird cosmic Lovecraftian stuff at the end of It was actually what sold him totally on the book, and how Bill Denbrough’s dream at the end of leaving Derry for the first time is an incredibly powerful scene for him. There is some discussion on King’s style vs. Lovecraft, in that King falls short of Lovecraft in that he explains too much and it loses some of it’s impact. Liam tells a very tender and personal story on his introduction to It that you need to listen to and won’t be summarized here. He also talks about how he realized only recently how deeply the book affected him as a person. There’s talk about how Muschietti’s version of the film failed to grasp the deep racism that is present in King’s novel and how that racism is essential to Henry’s relationship with Mike Hanlon.
We begin the actual discussion of the movie with John talking about how this movie went above and beyond his expectations. John briefly discusses his distaste for remakes, and how Muschietti went about remaking It the way they ought to be done. We talk about how John came around on this movie, and how one of his biggest problems with the film was the lack of Eddie Corcoran’s death. We talk briefly about the effectiveness of Eddie’s death in the book. We talk about some of the stuff Muschietti changed from the book, especially how Stan is kind of the focus of It’s activity and how that may use that focus to explain why Stan makes the choices he may or may not make in chapter 2. Muschietti’s choice in keeping Bill Skarsgard separate from the Losers in order to harbor a true fear in their reactions in coming face to face with Pennywise for the first time.
Brendan talks about how he has no affection for the original miniseries and thus had no real vested interest in going all in on this version of the story. He talks about how while Tim Curry is fine it’s a bad take for Pennywise, and how he was relieved Muschietti didn’t ‘neuter’ the story for the big screen. He talks about how while the characters of Eddie and Richie can be a bit much at times, in the end they have a perfect balance of annoying and endearing, and how these characters excel where children in horror movies often fail.
Liam jumps in to talk about the hype around this movie and how it doesn’t do the movie any justice, as well as the apparent hesitance on some to just call this film a horror movie as opposed to calling it something other than horror (post horror, a psychological thriller, etc.). He talks about the pacing and how it was a bit offsetting at times. He discusses how he would have preferred the story to be broken up into a short season of a TV show instead of a full-length film. Liam discusses the idea of the adults of Derry being human monsters, and the ‘is Derry bad because of It or does It like Derry because Derry is bad?’ idea is touched upon.
Justin talks about the look of Pennywise, the change from the novel in which Bill is unaware that George is dead and is merely missing. The graphic detail of George’s death in the movie is discussed. The merit of there not a sort of mystical ritual in this film i.e. King’s Ritual of Chud, and how Muschietti’s version in which the Losers simply overcome their fears and “starve” It to defeat it is discussed. The acting of the Losers Club is discussed, in which we all agree that getting seven great child actors is quite impressive. Jaeden Lieberher’s convincing stutter is briefly touched up. We again talk about the concept of Derry’s ‘comfort’ with It’s existence, in that there is a sizeable amount of the population who is aware that something is wrong with the town but is comfortable looking away.
King’s latent humanism and Christianity and how it shows in his work, i.e. how King tends to make his characters naturally good who only become bad through the influence of some external evil, is discussed. King’s portrayal of small towns having an unsavory underbelly is discussed, and Derry being the quintessential example of that. Brendan argues that this is something of a weak point for King, as it often lets his characters off the hook.
Justin talks about what he doesn’t like about the film, including the throwaway deaths of Patrick Hockstetter and Eddie Corcoran, the lack of characterization for the bullies, and the poor portrayal of Henry Bowers. Bev being the damsel in distress is discussed, and the needlessness of it as well as how it would have made sense for Stan to actually be the one who needs to be rescued. The lack of characterization for Mike Hanlon is touched upon. Liam briefly talks about how the TV always saying weird macabre stuff about the sewer is quite effective.
We read some of the stuff people wrote into us, including Jacob from the Test Patterns podcast, Andrew and Elbee from Got Me A Movie, and several others.