horror

Stephen King's It Gets a Scary, Funny Adaptation by Ryan Hill

 
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Does anybody really like clowns? There’s something not right with them. The white faces? The wigs? The silly behavior? All of the above? Hard to say. But pretty much everyone under the age of, say, 45 is terrified of one clown in particular.

Pennywise, the evil clown from Stephen King’s novel It.

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Famously played by Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries, Pennywise comes to Derry, Maine every 27 years to feast on scared children. In the hands of Curry, the clown was as evil as he was fun. An all-time villain that to this day still holds up. Now, 27 YEARS AFTER THE MINISERIES, Pennywise has returned on the big screen.

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It’s the summer of 1989, and a group of kids dubbed the Losers want nothing more than to have a fun summer with no worries and no run-ins with the local bullies. That doesn’t really go according to plan, thanks to Pennywise, who terrorizes the kids one by one, feeding on their biggest fears. Bill, the Losers’ leader, is haunted by the death of his little brother Georgie, whom Pennywise killed the year before. Another is terrified of a strange painting. In true Stephen King fashion – and an obvious nod to his novel Carrie – the lone girl in the group is most afraid of her period. As the summer goes on, the Losers realize they’re all being hunted by Pennywise, and since the adults won’t do anything, take matters into their own hands.

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The 1990 miniseries version of It introduced a generation to the work of King with a bang. The author was HUGE in 1990, and King’s novels, with their supernatural elements, piqued the interest of eager young readers like myself. The catch? Most of us weren’t allowed to read his books, because they were “too scary.” The It miniseries was a chance for my generation to finally get a taste of King, and it did not fail to deliver. I was 10, and even though the miniseries aired on network TV, prompting a lack of gore, Pennywise scared the dickens out of everyone.

This new version of It is the first of two films based on the novel, with this one focusing on the Losers as children. Cutting King’s 1,100-page novel into two is no easy feat, and the first half of It can basically be described as evil clown messes with kids. There’s a struggle to reconcile the connection between the Losers and Pennywise, but once those two threads come together, It becomes almost non-stop horror.

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The film is vintage King. Children coming of age, over-the-top adults, sadistic baddies, shocking terror … It, more than maybe all the other King adaptations, feels like one of his novels come to life.

It’s also maybe the funniest King movie.

Yes, It is full of solid scares. Where the 1990 version of Pennywise was scary and fun, this version, played by Bill Skarsgard, is just plain menacing. With the freedom to work within an R-rating, director Andy Muschietti doesn’t skimp on the gore, fully realizing the horror within It. But none of it would work without the Losers. They trade rapid fire quips, and drop F-bombs just like regular kids. The best of the bunch is Richie (Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things), who regards his mouth as a gift. The Losers are so funny and authentic, they’d fit in with any of the John Hughes films around at the film’s 1989 setting.

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It’s hard to look at this new adaptation of It without acknowledging the miniseries’ huge influence, but the film really does stand on its own two feet. Alternately hilarious and scary (and not without a couple of shortcomings), It is, to coin a generic critic phrase, a roller-coaster ride.

Author Interview with RESTLESS IN PEACEVILLE'S Pippa Jay! by Ryan Hill

 

I recently spoke with Pippa Jay, author of the new novel Restless in Peaceville, about zombies, Pixar, and '80s music. How did she do? Could she handle my hard-hitting expose? Read on to find out...


Restless in Peaceville has a very unique premise for a zombie novel, reminiscent of Warm Bodies and Breathers: A Zombie's Lament. What inspired you to write a zombie novel in this style?

Thank you (and off to look up Breathers now). Well, I have to blame Warm Bodies, Dead By Sunrise, Karen Y. Bynum, Terry Pratchett, Danielle Fine, and YOU (ed. note: AWWWE). And being too curious about the whole zombie mythology after watching Warm Bodies. I wanted to know where the brain-eating came from, because I'd read stories with zombies that weren't like that at all, so it got me thinking, "What is a zombie really like?" The mindless Hollywood, flesh-eating monstrosity or the rather tragic figures I'd read in other books? And then one of my friends mentioned Louisiana voodoo. After I started researching, muse just got hooked on the whole idea and forced me to write it. 


Is Restless in Peaceville told in first person? How do you narrate from a zombie POV? Is it kind of like Hodor, only with brains?

Yep, Restless is my first book in first person, lol. I found caffeine and sleep deprivation produce quite a zombie-like state, so I'd just get up really, really stupidly early and write without coffee. And occasionally stumble around the house in that condition so I knew what it felt like. In the book I compare it to having your whole body go to sleep and never wake up again, but unfortunately you can still think, which Luke would rather not do. People with insomnia might have some familiarity with that feeling.


Since you wrote a zombie novel, I'm going to assume you're a big fan of zombie novels. That said, what are some of your favorite novels that involve either: love stories, werewolves, or vampires that don't shine? Also, what's your favorite Pixar movie?

If we're talking vampires, I was a big fan of the Anne Rice novels, especially Pandora and The Body Thief, or Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett (vampires, witches, and a lot of dark humour). Pixar - Wall-E. He's so cute!


You're having a dream involving zombies. You're trapped, about to be bitten/dismembered/eaten up by moldy teeth. Some sexpot shows up to rescue you. Is it Norman Reedus, Brad Pitt, or Simon Pegg? Why?

I've had those kind of dreams frequently, but NOBODY EVER SHOWS UP TO RESCUE ME!! Um, you think Norman Reedus and Simon Pegg classify as sexpots?! *pats Ryan on the head* There, there. If I'm forced to chose one, it would be Brad Pitt. Because the other two are...not so attractive? Yeah, I'm that shallow. (ed. note: Just trying to think outside of the box with names :-D)


What's up with pop music these days? It sounds like over-produced '80s gunk...amirite?

They had music in the '80s? *blinks* Must have missed that. ;)


How do your zombies move? Fast? Slow? Thriller style?

They each have their own style of moving. Luke, my main character, tends to stumble around, because he's always been a bit kind of slow and clumsy, and being a zombie just emphasizes that. He complains how Annabelle moves like a dancer, all graceful like, and he resents that a lot! But when he needs to he can move surprisingly fast. There's a third zombie in the story, which again moves quickly, but there's not much of him left so he's no weight to carry around.


What did you think of the World War Z movie? Did you read the book? What about Peter Jackson's Dead Alive? Isn't it the grossest movie ever made?

Not seen, not read, and not seen. Sorry, I haven't watched the classic zombies much! Do I lose my zombie club membership for that confession? I've seen Warm Bodies, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and Deadheads, and read zombies in Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony books. Other than that I'm a bit of a novice in the zombie department.

 

Zombies have survived all of sorts of things recently. Sparkling vampires, shitty George Romero movies, even The Forest of Hands and Teeth (don't even get me started on that one). Why do you think zombies are still appealing? What about them appeals to you?

I think they have a wider appeal than some supernaturals because people like to be scared, because zombies are possibly more credible than vampires and werewolves when it comes to the types of undead that could actually exist, and perhaps because people are afraid and yet also fascinated by what might happen to us after death. I guess it's morbid curiosity. After all, a zombie is just a dead version of a person rather than a glamorized blood sucker or shapeshifter. I also think that a lot of people just like to see zombies getting their heads blown off. In my case, I was fascinated by the way Isaac Marion had taken something with a pretty grim reputation--a monster--and yet I empathized with the character and wanted him to get his Happily Ever After in Warm Bodies. Terry Pratchett had done the same with his zombies in Reaperman, Witches Abroad, and the Nightwatch books. Going back to the original Haitian folklore, I learned that zombies are dead souls summoned back and forced to serve the bokor (sorcerer) who raised them. They're quite tragic figures. I wanted to explore that and the idea that zombies aren't just ravening monsters--that they're still the person they were before, and just maybe it's the desperation and horror of their condition that drives them to do the things that give them such a bad reputation.

 

In haiku format, tell us why people should red/buy Restless in Peaceville.

Two lost undead souls,

seeking a place in your heart

to rest forever.

 

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