The ‘IT: Chapter Two’ Reading List

We trace the steps of Pennywise the Clown as he skips through various Stephen King tales of terror.
It Chapter Two Reading List
New Line Cinema
By  · Published on September 5th, 2019

The Tommyknockers (1987)

A writer stumbles over a piece of metal in the woods. A little investigation reveals its origin to that of an alien spacecraft buried below ground. Now exposed to our atmosphere, the ship excretes a noxious gas that transforms the population of Haven. The mutations don’t seem too rough at first. Folks get smarter, and their newfound intelligence makes them rather crafty. On the other hand, anyone who attempts to leave Haven finds themselves mentally barred from absconding. A few affected folks become ragefully violent and lash out at their neighbors.

In Chapter 10 of the book, Haven resident Tommy Jacklin travels to Derry to purchase batteries. As he’s passing along Wentworth Street, he spies a clown carrying balloons peeping from a storm drain. Tommy believes he’s hallucinating, but again, we know better. The problem with this Pennywise guest-appearance is that the events of The Tommyknockers take place at least a year after the events of IT. So, The Losers failed to vanquish evil? Has the 27-year cycle begun anew? Or it’s just as likely that this Pennywise is not the same Pennywise, but one of Its offspring hinted at during the novel’s conclusion.

Dreamcatcher (2001)

Written while King was still recovering from a nearly-lethal collision with a van while out walking along a road, Dreamcatcher is a burst of raw energy from a master demonstrating an imagination as epic and bizarre as it ever was. Not too far from the Derry town limits, an alien vessel has crashed in the woods. A covert section of the US military contains the crash site as well as any nearby humans. Why? Well, these creatures have a nasty method of biological invasion. They enter your body as spores and rip out your anus as toothy slug monsters.

At the center of this threat are four childhood friends cornered in a cabin by an extraterrestrial assblaster. They share a psychic connection because a long time ago they protected Duddits, a friend with Downs Syndrome, from the barbs of bullies. Their friend mysteriously gifted each of them with a different ability and all their lives they’ve used these skills to accomplish menial tasks. Now, they must stand together against a devastating horde.

Later on in the novel, an alien intelligence called Mr. Grey hijacks one of the friends and pilots his body to the infamous Standpipe in which IT climaxed. The water tower was decimated during The Loser’s final stand with evil, and while the citizens never quite understood what exactly went down at the location, they did erect a tiny plaque commemorating the event. Spraypainted across the sign are the words “Pennywise Lives.” As the Standpipe connected The Losers to the sewers of Derry, the abandoned property also does so for Mr. Grey. The plan being to infect the population with his extraterrestrial spore-brothers via the water system.

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (2004)

As they race towards the fabled Dark Tower, Roland the Gunslinger, Susannah, and Oy the billy-bumbler encounter a young boy in the clutches of a psychic vampire. The child is Patrick Danville, a key player in the novel Insomnia, and he is on the verge of death. The vampire goes by the name of Joe Collins but eventually unveils his true identity as Dandelo. The wretch gains strength by leaching the emotions of his victims, and he sneakily achieves this while telling jokes to Roland and Susannah. They escape through a unique manner of storytelling.

Readers have speculated that Dandelo and Pennywise are the same being. Both munched on the psychic energy of humans. Both had the ability to make small houses look larger on the inside. Both must follow the rules of the form they inhabit. If you’re a werewolf, you gotta behave like a werewolf. Stephen King denies their connection but admits that they may share similar DNA. Again, Dandelo could be a child of Pennywise.

Under the Dome (2009)

When The Losers crawl deep into the sewers of Derry, they discover a door standing at the center of a stone wall with a pile of tiny child bones at its base. Upon the door is an unknown symbol. Bill interprets the image as a paper boat. Stan sees a phoenix. Michael, a hooded face. Richie, a pair of eyes hidden behind glasses. Beverly, a balled fist. Eddie, a grotesque, dripping leper. Ben imagines a stack of bandages oozing a sour smell. Whatever the case, the symbol that marks Pennywise’s home matches one later spotted on the dome generator in Under the Dome.

King’s 58th book is a fat stack of pages regarding another small Maine town, Chester’s Mill. One morning in October, the residents awaken to discover a large invisible dome dividing their borders from the outside world. Panic, paranoia, and terror follow. The shield is generated by a device found in the back fields of the city, and it is scrawled with an unidentified text reminiscent of Pennywise’s hieroglyph. Surely, It’s not responsible for the Under the Dome threat, but the villains might have a connection to the Macroverse.

11/22/63 (2011)

When High school teacher Jake Epping learns that his local diner contains a magical portal that drops travelers into 1958, he makes it his mission to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. An undertaking as absurd and daunting as that one needs preparation, and Jake’s first excursion into the past revolves around saving a student’s father from murdering his mother and siblings. Where did this horrific crime take place? Derry, naturally. Upon arriving he runs into IT protagonists Beverly Marsh and Richie Tozier playing amongst the wooded area known as The Barrens, which features prominently in their adventures. Jake inquires about the murder/suicide he’s looking to prevent, and Beverly states to Richie, “That wasn’t the clown.”

Or was it? Maybe. During his time in Derry, Jake senses a dark cloud that hangs over the city. As we’ve read in the book and seen in the movie, Pennywise’s presence in Derry has a venomous effect on the residents. Many vicious offenses are directly attributed to the monster that feeds from the population’s fear, and Jake’s killer could have done what he did as a direct result from Its malevolent shadow.

Mr. Mercedes (2014)

A Mercedes plows into a crowd of folks waiting in line at a job fair. Eight people are killed and several others are gravely injured. At the scene, Detective Bill Hodges learns that the driver was wearing a clown mask. A witness describes it as “creepy as hell” and asks, “You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?” Considering how King sprinkles references to the multiple tragedies of Derry throughout his universe, a reference to our real-world adaptation of his second-fattest book (The Stand being number one) strikes a weird nerve in my noodle. This question seems to separate this particular story from his other work. At the same time, this is not the first reference King has done in his books regarding the cinematic treatment of his stories. Clearly, he gets a kick from how the films infect a larger swath of the populace.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)