Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Is For IT

It probably isn't surprising that I started reading horror at a very young age. My sister used to read all those Christopher Pike books, which in turn meant I read them. She then graduated to John Saul, Dean Koontz and Anne Rice, and I did as well, but somewhere in there, I got on the Stephen King bandwagon and she didn't. I cannot remember the first King book I read, but I do know which ones left a lasting impression: Carrie, Dolores Claiborne, Christine and IT.

Thinking back, there are actually only two books, both horror, that stand out when I reflect on my preteeny life. Okay, three, but one of them is because I left it in the movie theatre bathroom and thought my sister was going to murder me over it. She didn't. In fact, I don't know if she ever found out about it. That book was The Witching Hour. The other two books are Come The Blind Fury. I remember reading this on a summer's day when I was thirteen. The scent of suntan lotion brings flashbacks of the book. And the last one is IT, which I remember reading on a blustery October night. 

Well, obviously I didn't read the whole thing in one night. I was twelve years old, for crying out loud, and the book is 1138 pages! But I distinctly remember it was October, the leaves were swirling, and I was snug in my bed, completely enthralled with this pack of kids trying to fight off this evil force. And what an evil force it was... 

There was something so sinister and frightening about Pennywise the Clown. To this day, he remains one of the most terrifying figures ever created in a horror novel and brought to life by the big screen. What was it that was so scary?

It might have been his smile:

Or those honest eyes. 

Then again, I think it was probably the fact that he preyed on children and could make your deepest fears come true. 

Since we're here, and I'm being honest, I've only ever read IT straight through once, when I was twelve. That said, I've read the first half of it at least a million times. Regular readers know what a sucker I am for hyperbole. But that doesn't change the fact that the beginning of this book is one of the most skin-crawling and engrossing things I've ever read. 

And, since I'm still being honest, whenever I watch the movie, I only ever watched it to the second VHS tape. That last sentence dated me, and now you all know how long it has since I've actually sat down to watch this. Maybe that needs to change. I mean, how could it possibly be that something which moulded me into the twisted individual I am today hasn't been watched or read in over a decade. Seems tragic. 

I think I need to remedy that.

So, what was it about the first half of this story that engaged me so much? The kids. Stephen King may be the Master of Horror, but he's also the master at writing kids well. This book gives me the same feeling that The Body did, which is what the movie Stand By Me is based off of. If someone is able to capture teens or preteens in all their glory then I am delighted. This book wasn't a kids book, but the seven main characters had qualities every adult could identify with, especially inexplicable fears. 

Maybe IT isn't the best movie or book ever made. Still, something about it has withstood the test of time and, like a lot of horror from my youth, I'm sure they'll end up remaking it. And we all know how I feel about remakes. 

Yeah, that's right. I hate them. 

See you tomorrow for another insert in this spooktacular A-Z blogging challenge.

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