When the original It miniseries came to our television sets in 1990, it wasn't just Pennywise the Dancing Clown that scared the crap out of me and millions of other kids. Don't get me wrong, the clown alone was enough to scar countless children for life. To this day, they can't look at or get anywhere near a clown, thanks to Tim Curry's performance. Besides the clown, It also played upon so many of our other fears. Bullies, being abused by or losing the ones we love, even hypochondria. To this day, if I walk by a sewer drain in the street, I keep one eye on it and one eye on the road, so I don't get squished by a car or pulled in and eaten by a killer clown.
The question asked most often when a reboot happens is whether or not it will live up to the original. In this case, the only way the new It will live up to the first is if it scares kids so badly that their adult selves get anxiety attacks when the clowns come out at rodeos and circuses. Here are some ideas for the producers of the reboot to consider if they want to give this generation's kids a good scare!
The 1990 Original
Played by: Seth Green (12 years old) & Harry Anderson (adult)
Fear: Classic movie monsters
It appears as a werewolf and attacks Richie, because Richie is a film buff whose greatest fear is classic movie monsters. It's a straightforward, childlike fear, and because of that, the Wolf Man is a recurring form that It takes in the novel and movie.
Played by: Adam Faraizl (12 years old) & Dennis Christopher (adult)
Fear: Getting hurt/sick (hypochondria)
In the book, Eddie's overbearing mother has convinced him he has asthma, but it's unclear if he really has it in the movie. As a result, Eddie's greatest fear is getting sick, and even death itself. Either way, his belief in his own illness is strong enough so that he sees his inhaler as his savior, enough to wound Pennywise when he sprays the clown with it.
Played by: Ben Heller (12 years old) & Richard Masur (adult)
Fear: Illogical situations/loss of control and order
Not much is revealed about Stan in the movie, but his characterization in the novel isn't too far off. He values logic, and to have this gnarly-looking beast attacking him? That attacks his sense of logic, which leads him to contemplate that there are some things in this world (and out of it) that he simply can't control. When It comes back, the realization is too much for him, driving him to suicide.
Played by: Emily Perkins (12 years old) & Annette O'Toole (adult)
Fear: Emotional and physical abuse
Beverly's fear is understandable, seeing how she was abused by her father as a girl. Her bathroom becomes a locus of her fear with It creating horrifying illusions there, such as the sink regularly filling with blood. It represents the physical damage and pain that her father inflicted upon her, as well as the ways in which he liked to hurt her most.
Played by: Marlon Taylor (12 years old) & Tim Reid (adult)
Fear: racial persecution
Racism is a huge issue these days, but with the 1960s being full of lynchings, burning crosses, and every other nightmare imaginable, a 12-year-old African-American kid had plenty to fear. Mike was also the new kid on the block, and faced plenty of racism with Henry Bowers and his gang while just trying to blend in. When it was time for the Losers to return and fight It again, Mike was the only one that stayed in town, and remembered everything. That could point to another fear - forgetting the past and repeating old mistakes, something that applies to racism and It.
Played by: Jonathan Brandis (12 years old) & Richard Thomas (adult)
Fear: losing loved ones
Bill's little brother, Georgie, is the movie's first victim, getting his arm bitten or ripped off both in the book and the movie. This isn't shown in the movie, thank God, but the scene is still terrifying enough without that:
So, naturally, Bill is overwhelmed by the guilt of his baby brother's death, and It torments him with that memory as the source of Bill's fear.
Played by: Brandon Crane (12 years old) & John Ritter (adult)
Fear: His dead father
Ben would grow up to be a brilliant architect, something that's foreshadowed when he helps rebuild the dam built by his future friends, after it's torn down by the bullies. Despite his success as an adult, as a young boy, Ben has his share of problems. His father died in the Korean War, and It disguises itself as his father, trying to lure him into the sewers. It uses the memory of his dead father against him, like with Georgie and Bill.
What They Can Update For The 2017 Remake
Just what are kids scared of these days? Some things have changed in almost 30 years...but some things haven't. Here are modern fears that the new It remake can use to update the movie and make it even scarier for today's generation.
Be it Slenderman, the Babadook, or whichever monster of the week a Reddit user dreams up, kids these days are pretty damned afraid of them all. Our eight year old was told one day at recess that in a tree down the street, if she looked really close, she could see Slenderman peeking out, looking at her. She didn't sleep too well for a couple nights!
Bullies & Social Media
Just like that racist little punk Henry Bowers and his gang were a pain to The Losers Club back in 1960, bullies are still a huge problem for kids these days. Only now, when they're not physically harassing them, they're ruining their lives on social media. Not being a movie script writer myself, I can't really think of a good way to incorporate Facebook into the new It, except for the new Henry Bowers using it as a way to screw with the seven friends.
In the novel, It appears to little hypochondriac Eddie as a Leper, playing on his fears of getting a horrifying disease. Our oldest kid is in this phase where everything is wrong with her. It's something we hope she grows out of (and soon), but there are many kids out there with the same fears. With the new movie having a Leper in it, being played by Javier Botet (The Conjuring 2), it looks like this will still be Eddie's main fear.
Being Hurt By Adults You Trust
From relatives to school counselors, kids have always had adults in their lives that they trust. And they sometimes find out that not all adults can be trusted.
Beverly was abused by her father in the story originally, and ended up in several abusive relationships as an adult. There's not much worse than being betrayed by someone who's supposed to look out for you, and as vicious as the remake is looking to be, I wouldn't be surprised if the abusive parent or pedophile gym coach story isn't used.
Ghosts are another easy way to freak children out, and always have been. From Ben seeing his dead father at the entrance to the sewer, to the ghost of a long dead Belch telling an adult Henry to kill the remaining six friends, ghosts are almost a certain bet to be used in the remake. The ghosts were actually It in disguise, but appearing as dead friends and family is a signature move of the monster.
That big fat man in a red suit will always be the source of some kids' nightmares no matter how many toys he hands out. Of course, if the seven friends are all 12 years old, we might be safe from seeing a demonic ol' Saint Nick, but you never know!
Whatever fear tactics our new It will use, one thing is for sure. If this movie comes out half as scary as the original, there's going to be a whole new generation of kids who completely avoid sewer drains when they're adults.