Stephen King’s It was recently given a release date of Sept. 8, 2017, according to the horror news site Bloody Disgusting, and while it won’t be the first time that Pennywise the murderous clown has been adapted to film, it will be the first time a film version turns up on the big screen.
The earlier version was a television miniseries from 1990. At that point, adaptations for the small screen had to be very selective with what they were allowed to show on screen.
As such, many considered that version, which starred Harry Anderson, Richard Masur, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, and John Ritter, to be a watered-down film with some tense moments, thanks mostly to the Pennywise interpretation by Tim Curry.
Still, the medium itself was far more limited than it is today.
Stephen King’s It for the big screen will reportedly take a harder approach, and it has fans salivating over the possibilities. At this time, there is no official cast announced, but the project will certainly have more info in the weeks ahead.
With that said, here are some other literary horror classics from the 1980s and early 1990s that deserve a big screen treatment.
1. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons was originally published in 1991 and centered on the community of Elm Haven circa 1960.
Like Stephen King’s It, it tells the story of pre-teens, who discover something is horribly wrong with their town — in this case, the Old Central School.
A dead soldier, giant worms with rows of sharp and serrated teeth, a zombie teacher, school bullies, and a hideous rendering truck, are the servants of an ancient evil looking for rebirth.
Some genuinely spooky moments occur in this book and give rise to sequels A Winter Haunting, Children of the Night, and Fires of Eden, for a series rich in depth that could be a series of films or an ongoing series on Netflix or Amazon.
At the very least, however, this horror masterpiece needs to find a bigger audience on film.
2. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Also published in 1991, McCammon’s Boy’s Life paints as vivid a picture of the 1960s as any novel you’re likely to read, and is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s It in its execution.
Dense with history and literary skill, the book is considered to be the prolific author’s best and is really a coming of age slice-of-life with genre overtones.
Still, it would make for a meaty adaptation in the right hands. The plot centers on 12-year-old Cory Mackenson, who, along with his father, attempts to rescue a driver whose car has plunged into Saxon’s Lake.
When they get to the body, they find out the victim was already dead before the accident, the victim of a vicious beating.
The novel’s year-in-the-life approach weaves the mystery in throughout while expertly raising the stakes among the otherwise-normalcy of childhood.
3. The Cellar by Richard Laymon
Laymon is one of the greatest modern horror authors, and to date, none of his works have been adapted for the big screen (or small even).
He made his debut with the 1980 bestseller The Cellar, which unlike the pre-teen horror of Stephen King’s It, is about a woman and her daughter on the run from her ex-con husband, who molested the daughter for years.
While running away from one evil, they run into another, and the terrifying “Beast House Chronicles” begin.
The Cellar was followed by The Beast House, The Midnight Tour, and Friday Night in Beast House. Laymon wrote dozens of worthy-for-adaptation novels throughout his career, but this is the one for which he is best known, and it would be a treat to see it on the big screen.
With Stephen King’s It on the horizon, what other horror novels from the 1980s and ’90s would you like to see on the big screen?
[Image via Stephen King’s It screen grab, 1990 version]