Your source for retro horror and book reviews

Posts tagged “IT

It (2017): SPOILERS

Image result for It movie poster

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

If you’re still reading this than I can safely assume you’ve taken some time to go see the latest of Stephen King novel to movie adaptations, It. This week on Machine Mean has been an It-palooza. With our very own Chad Clark bringing you a review of the novel in a three part series, including that very scandalous scene from the book, you know the one. And Chad and I both tackled a review of the original made-for-TV film from 1990. What better way to end the week than with a review on the new addition?  Continue Reading

Advertisements

Creature Features in Review : It (1990)

Image result for it 1990 poster

Chad’s take on It.

In 1990, the world of Stephen King expanded even more as ABC aired a miniseries adaptation of his legendary book, IT. The movie would span across two parts and feature a large ensemble cast, the same group of characters, both as children and as adults. The success or failure of the film aside, Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise has gone down as one of the more brilliant portrayals of a Stephen King character, alongside Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence and Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes.

We find ourselves now in the year 2017, on the brink of a new film adaptation, this time set for a theatrical release as opposed to television. And while the original miniseries continues to have legs in terms of the fans, as the years go on, it seems to take more of a turn towards being mocked and criticized as a joke and a failure, a betrayal of source material which I concede is likely King’s greatest book.  Continue Reading


Opus Questions with Kit Power

Inside the imagination of horror writers you’ll find untold curiosities. Strange and unusual stories crafted from equally appalling minds. But where do horror writers get their ideas? Certainly, from the world around them. No doubt. For the world, historically speaking, can be both strange and unusual. But I think equally important, horror writers hone most of their craft from reading the works of others. It most certainly feels like a prerogative. To write, you must first read. Thus, here with Opus Questions we delve into this line questioning. What do horror writers read? What works have helped shape their own words. What books have inspired these wordsmiths of the macabre? So, to keep things interesting and to be a bit villainess on my part, I’ve asked my guests to tell us what their favorite books are and why. And they can pick only two. You heard me. Just two!!! (laughs manically) So, without further ado, here is…

Kit Power:

It is, of course, impossible. Two favourite books? Just two? I’d struggle with the two favourite books I’ve read this year. Of all time? Ludicrous bloody question. Quite impossible.

I have therefore done what any honourable person would do – I’ve cheated. Here, then, are not my two favourite books, but rather the two books that I think have had the most direct and immediate impact on my writing life. Without these two books, I’m fairly confident you wouldn’t be reading this now. So, you know, blame them.

Or rather, as both books were written by Stephen King, blame him, I guess.

First up is IT. I read this book when I was eleven years old, and read it every year for the following ten years at least – normally over winter. Something about short days and long nights made this epic tale of the summer of 1958 deeply appealing – even with all the child murders, shape shifting monsters, and bowel loosening terror.

IT, Stephen King, 1986

IT, Stephen King, 1986

That first time though – jeepers. The book is dedicated to kids, thus giving the entirely false impression that it may be in some way suitable for them. It isn’t, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the text will attest. It emphatically isn’t. For example, (and spoiler alert, I guess, but for heaven’s sake sort your life out and go read the bloody thing) the opening chapter of the book involves a six year old boy having his arm ripped off by a clown that isn’t really a clown but a monster that lives in the sewer.

Chapter 1. Things do not improve from there, to put it mildly. There was at least twice, during that first read through, when I had to abandon the book for a while, so vivid and terrifying were the nightmares (and for that matter, daymares) it invoked. The first was a passage concerning the strange death and even stranger life of a ten year old psychopath called Patrick Hocksetter, and the second involved the Losers Club preparing to storm what was clearly the haunted house from hell, which I wasn’t expecting any of them to survive.

But really, the book doesn’t let up at all – cruelty after cruelty, monster and human alike, a catalogue of horrors that avoids monotony by sheer force of imagination, of personal touch, of characterization.

Not Safe For Kids. And yet… reading it transformed my outlook. About what fiction could be. About what it could do. The notion that a horror story containing kids could have the kids get killed was a violation of what I’d thought of being a fairly iron clad rule of fiction – threat, sure, temporary cruelty or hardship, absolutely, but vicious death? Never! Impossible. And yet…

It was suddenly clear to me that actually, it was possible that there were no rules. That the gloves could come all the way off.

That anything was possible.

That’s the reason I write the kind of fiction I do – whatever the genre, this insight is my north star, the question I ask myself when I edit, draft, polish. Did I go all the way? Did the story?

So for better or worse, IT is why I write what I write.

The reason I write at all is “On Writing.”

The timing was perfect, that’s all. I’d gotten the book as a birthday present three years ago, after finally finishing The Dark Tower series which reignited my interest in King (yeah, I didn’t hate the end or the last three books. Sorry.) It sat on the shelf as I frantically completed a year of distance learning to improve my CV. I picked it up either as the course was finishing or just before.

On Writing, Stephen King, 2000.

On Writing, Stephen King, 2000.

And just POW! ‘Do you need permission to write? Very well, I give you permission.’ Lightbulb. Fireworks. Pick your choice of overworked synonym.

I loved writing. I loved it so much. I even didn’t completely hate writing essays about a subject I detested to get a qualification I needed. This realization collided with the fact that I’d been spending 8–10 hours a week for the last year on this course. That’s 8–10 hours of time a week ‘spare’. Unclaimed.

Wasted.

Would I go back to watching lame telly, or acquiring PS3 trophies? That would feel… not good. Should I perchance enroll in another course, maybe start trying to complete a degree course? My very soul shriveled from the thought of another five years spent thus wise engaged.

There was Another Way. Another Choice. The author who had most shaped my philosophy about fiction, and done so by raw example, had just advised me that writing fiction for fun was one of the greatest, most rewarding and pleasurable pursuits known to man, and that the more seriously you took it, the more fun it was. He’d shared his approach to the craft, which married so closely with my own I found it eerie (I guess not thinking then how it must be a fairly common approach overall – there may be more than one way to skin a cat, after all, but probably not a ton more).

Best of all, I had Permission. Permission to write. Permission to take it seriously. Permission to set loose that imagination in the service of telling a story, and making others feel by sheer force of language.

I sat down and wrote my novella Lifeline in three weeks. I still haven’t looked back.

 

kitpower

I want to thank Kit Power for taking the time and sharing with us a bit about the books that have helped shape his strange and unusual mind. Kit Power is an up and coming wordsmith of macabre. He has several anthologies he’s contributed to, all available on Amazon. His novella is also available, Lifeline. You can find Mr. Power lurking about on Ginger Nuts of Horror as a contributing writer and reviewer for the site. Or you can find him on his own site, here, discussing the art of writing and the world of horror entertainment. Kit Power will also be featured in the up and coming horror anthology, The Black Room Manuscripts, coming later this summer.

 


IT: a modestly late book review

Well, who says any book review is late? By months or even by near thirty years? And yes, it has taken me about thirty years to read this particular piece. And before I begin, let me say IT is not my first nor my favorite of Stephen King novels. Curious what is? Pet Cemetary has always been a special book for me. Its so normal till its not and when its not…well, let’s just say things get very dark and haunting. Especially in the woods with that creature you never really get to see!

Now, as for IT.

This book was a great read. The story of seven friends growing up in the 1950’s America was beautiful. And the histories a details of everything made the characters and places feel real and rooted in reality. In my mind, whatever the creature IT was, demon, space monster, outer dimensional being, whatever, felt as if it could really exist. The monster had its own history, of sorts, and thoughts, which gave a deeper way of understanding its desires and wants. Of simply made sense and so became all the more terrifying! The two time lines worked and moved the story along, smoothly. Till the end where everything comes at you in great globs of speed. The minor character were also beautifully tragic and welcomed. I loved hating Tom Rogan. And a loved hearing all the Derry town history, a lot of it was despicably chilling, like the lumber dude who chopped up all those people with an Axe.

My favorite character was Ben, both past and present. And I enjoyed his happy drive into the sun set ending with Bev. I cannot think of a character I didn’t care for except for maybe Stan the man Uris, mostly because of his obvious and painful absence. And when he was around, his character was annoying.

And now for the not so goods. The ending felt jumbled together. Yes, what’s going on in Derry is important but dang. A few paragraphs would have been nice. And what was with that one chapter where for some strange reason, they all have sex to be able to find their way out. I felt that bizarre part was not fleshed out (pun intended) to give it enough meaning and depth. Other than that, the ending was sweet and happy, strange for a work of horror, but welcomed. There was a mix of sadness with all the memory loss going on and the loss of those who did die. The end for Tom Rogan was disappointing. I really wanted him to suffer. Not the quick end in which he got.

image

All in all, I’d give IT 4 out of 5 stars!! A great long read with lots good detail and historic memory. And still fresh, even after thirty years!!