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One Movie Punch

Dec 5, 2018

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the podcast. This will be the second of two episodes today as we’re in the final stretch of getting caught up, both on episodes and what was happening while the podcast was offline. I’ll be continuing my story in a minute, but if you haven’t heard the earlier segments, hit pause, then go back to my review for “Outlaw King” (Episode #314) for the first segment, then listen every episode after that for another installment. Let me know you’re listening by sharing this episode with #WelcomeBackOMP. 

Last segment, I was figuring out how to get caught up on the podcast, and how to change it to make more room for other projects I had abandoned this year. One of those projects was another novel I had finished writing two years ago, then set aside to edit later. While I set it aside, I began working on a sequel during #NaNoWriMo, and realized about halfway through that it was the third book, so I stopped. And then last year for #NaNoWriMo, I started the second book, and got about two-thirds of the way through before getting started on this very podcast.

And that’s where they sat, until very recently. Instead of starting another book for #NaNoWriMo this month, I promised myself to start editing the first book, and that’s when inspiration hit me. I was going to do a few things at once while editing, so that when I was done, I would have a finished novel, a full audio transcription of it, and then use the audio to create a multi-episode radio drama, called “Anytown Stories”. It would be a weekly podcast, continuing the main story of the first novel, and including shorter stories, or other audio creations, every now and again. I had almost all of chapter one recorded to create the first three episodes when we had to evacuate, and once I got the podcast reworked and planned out, I took a few hours to wrap up the initial efforts and demo shows I had been working on. Once this podcast is back up to speed and transformed, I hope to finish those draft episodes, and then complete work on the rest of the project. Got ideas about that? Reach out to me.

More on the upcoming changes to the podcast later this week. Stay tuned tomorrow to hear a two-part story about what happens when a pipe begins leaking within your garage wall.

Today’s movie is “It” (2017), the Warner Bros and New Line Cinema horror film directed by Andy Muschietti and written for the screen by Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman, based on the first half of Stephen King’s classic novel, “It”. The film follows a series of child disappearances in Derry, Maine, a town with a dark history, and a group of children over one summer who come together to form the Losers Club. After each of them begins to experience what appear to be hallucinations, they decide to track down and face the creature, named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård).

Spoilers ahead.

In the early days of the Internet, many of us set out to find other people who shared our interests, especially those of us with eclectic taste in the smaller subcultures either not recognized or not welcome in rural America. One of those communities I ended up finding was called SKEMERs, The Stephen King E-mailers, and in a daily newsletter that worked like the letters pages in a comic book, we would read other people’s letters, then submit responses. It was a curated mailing list, and it spawned a huge community who met annually in Maine, and regionally every now and again. I went to two separate gatherings, one in Chicago, another near the Quad Cities, and each time I enjoyed being able to talk King with folks in person, and keep in touch via the newsletter after that. Of course, online communities come and go, and while the group is now defunct, its members are still out there, and I keep in touch with more than a few of them to this day. So, when I saw that they were remaking “It”, after a fairly decent (for the time) television version, I was suspicious, until I saw the critical response, and by then I had missed it in theaters. So getting to finally see it as part of getting caught up was such a treat.

“It”, as a novel, was told with two interweaving storylines: when the Losers Club were children in the mid-1950s, and when the Losers Club were adults in the mid-1980s, moving effortlessly back and forth. The latest adaptation, however, has decided to split the narrative chronologically, and bring both time periods forward about thirty years. It’s a bold and smart move for three reasons. First, there is simply too much source material for even a three hour film, and this first part comes in at a solid two hours and fifteen minutes. Second, you only need half the cast for each film, and don’t need to spend too much time on trying to manage the two versions of each character. And finally, moving the time period up makes the story more relatable to modern viewers, and cuts down tremendously on dealing with anachronisms while filming. We also get to use the entire vocabulary of Stephen King, with the R-rating, and yes, I mean all the swear words and content, which Finn Wolfhard clearly had an absolute blast with throughout the film.

In fact, I thought the whole cast was great, and not just the seven members of the Losers Club. The supporting cast was also excellent, especially with some of the deeper and darker content, like Beverly Marsh’s disturbing father, or Eddie’s Munchausen syndrome. Pennywise is excellent, with high marks for Bill Skarsgård’s performance, and with equal credit given to the amazing effects artists that made the shapeshifting realistic, despite its fantastic origins. I was captivated from the start, and more than a few scares made me jump or cry out, even knowing the story. And the comradery of the children reminds me a great deal of “Stand by Me”, especially how King can capture adolescent boy behavior, from the most innocuous to the most evil. And I was happy at the end, to see “Chapter One” appear, and then excited for next year’s sequel, which will continue the story.

“It” (2017) is easily one of the best Stephen King adaptations I have ever seen, capturing that unique mix of childhood nostalgia, small town feel, and in this case, neo-Lovecraftian horror. The ensemble cast is top notch, and the story is well told, from start to finish. Stephen King fans have already seen this film, and have either loved it or hated it, although not too many in the latter camp. Any other horror fans who have yet to check it out should definitely do so, then get in line for tickets to the sequel. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (FRESH)

Metacritic: 69

One Movie Punch: 8.8/10

“It” (2017) is rated R and is currently streaming on HBO.