Andy Muschietti’s IT floats into theaters next week, bringing with it an insane amount of hype and excitement from horror fans and those fortunate enough to have attended early screenings of the film. For genre fans, the wait for Muschietti’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel has proven excruciatingly long, mostly due to the fact that it legitimately looks amazing (“Don’t care how, I want it now!”). If, like me, you’re stuck waiting to watch the film next Thursday at your local cinema’s opening night premiere, we’ve put together a list of things to watch that will make your wait a little less harsh. If the wait is Pennywise, then we’re packing the battery acid. Let’s melt some faces!
Though horror is entirely prevalent in King’s novel and the 1990 miniseries, what makes IT such a special story is the shared bond between broken, outcast children, and the strength they provide for each other within the face of danger. The following choices are similar in that they focus on a group of children or teens who are unexpectedly forced to rise against some form of evil.
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1992)
There might not be any scary clowns or a prevalent sense of horror in E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, but I’d argue that Pennywise himself isn’t half as frightening as the shady-ass government. Often credited with being THE definitive childhood adventure, Steven Spielberg’s masterful film blends science fiction and fantasy with the keen heart of youth that has frequently inspired the generations of film that have followed. The bond between the Losers’ Club in IT may be closer than the teens in E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, however, the famous flying bike scene rests atop an impressive pedestal of magical movie moments, eliciting tears of joy from saps like myself. If Muschietti’s Losers’ Club comes anywhere close to matching this unity in a moment of hopelessness, we may be in the midst of something special.
The fact that people aren’t frequently discussing Laika’s PARANORMAN is more than just concerning – it’s downright disturbing. The film lovingly pays homage to iconic horror films, and is brilliantly molded with a vintage 80’s style. Norman, an 11-year-old who can speak to the dead, is tasked with ridding his town of a witch’s curse after a clan of zombies rise from their graves. Paired with his self-indulged older sister, his only school friend, his friend’s macho older brother, and the school bully, the film showcases the misfit group of children standing against a larger-than-life evil in order to save the people of their town. While it isn’t versed in the same nightmare inducing terror that courses through each version of IT, there is a fun amount of family-friendly horror featured in the film. It’s a blast.
STAND BY ME (1986)
Based on a novella by Stephen King, Rob Reiner’s STAND BY ME is essential viewing if you want to get a feel for the reverberating darkness of IT, as well as the banter between the members of the Losers’ Club. Reiner spectacularly captures the bridge between childhood and adulthood, highlighting the adult-like demeanor of the children, the moments of weakness, and the showcase of beyond-their-years strength. Though the film isn’t scary, there is a looming danger and darkness at the heart of its story that will further prepare you for the horror that IT is guaranteed to serve.
STRANGER THINGS (2016 – )
Judging by the trailers and released footage, a STRANGER THINGS vibe is sure to be present in Muschietti’s film. Paying homage to 80’s horror, as well as 3 of the films on this very list, STRANGER THINGS displays a realistic group of adolescents who are thrust into a mysterious, terrifying situation. A breakout Netflix hit, the show, and things like the show, have been in high demand since last summer, so it would come as no surprise if IT capitalizes on its success by offering familiarity to a massive audience. Hell, the two even share a cast member – but we’re definitely not complaining.
STEPHEN KING’S IT (1990)
Don’t roll your eyes. We know the choice is obvious, but c’mon. Why would you NOT revisit the 1990 miniseries with the big screen adaptation right around the corner? Though it doesn’t adequately capture the tone and true moments of terror from the novel, STEPHEN KING’S IT still managed to scare the hell out of an entire generation of kids, prompting immense trust issues between themselves and (potentially innocent) clowns. Tim Curry gives one of horror’s all-time menacing performances as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and to appropriately judge Bill Skarsgard’s take on the character, it’s imperative to keep the 90s clown fresh in your mind.