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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for IT Chapter Two. If you have not yet seen the film, please proceed at your own risk!
In Stephen King’s IT, some of the forms that the titular evil being takes when he is tormenting Richie Tozier are taken directly from horror movies of the era. The loudmouth kid happens to be particularly freaked out by movie monsters like The Mummy and The Wolf Man, and so IT takes their shape to feed on his fear. It’s an element of the story that only sort of found its way into the first half of director Andy Muschietti’s big screen adaptation, but that lacking is made up for in IT Chapter Two with a fantastic nod to John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece The Thing.
The bit comes when the adult members of the Losers Club have returned to the house on Neibolt Street, and Bill Hader’s Richie finds himself assaulted by an anthropomorphic head that has grown spider-like legs. The image of the limbs sprouting from the cranium is instantly reminiscent of The Thing, and Richie even delivers the exact same bit of six-word dialogue said by David Clennon’s Palmer in Carpenter’s movie: “You’ve got to be fucking kidding.” What it might surprise you to learn, however, is that it wasn’t really a planned reference:
When I had the chance to sit down with director Andy Muschietti and Bill Hader late last month during the IT Chapter Two Los Angeles press day, I dipped a bit into spoiler territory when I asked about the reference to The Thing and how it came about. I went into the interview assuming that the sequence and the line were featured in the script directly because of the aforementioned content of the book, but apparently it was something where the dots didn’t connect until production was underway.
Sitting down with the Muschietti, he explained that it was actually Bill Hader who was the one to bring The Thing reference more to the forefront. The so-called Spider Head was already planned for the movie from the script, but it was the actor who contributed the dialogue. Said the filmmaker,
That was Bill Hader. He will tell you otherwise, but when we were talking about the creature, he said... And on set, I think it happened, because some scenes you rehearse, the ones that include more drama, and the other ones you don't - like the Spider Head is not one of them. So on the set he says, 'Well, it's going to look like the spider in The Thing, right?' I said, 'Yeah.' 'What was that thing that the guy said when he saw the spider?' And I'm like, 'You gotta be fucking kidding.' And that was it. So we looked at each other and said, 'Let's do it.'
For those of you unfamiliar with the scene from The Thing being discussed here, you can watch it below... but before you do, know two things: 1) it's definitely spoiler-filled, just in case you ever want to watch the full movie, and 2) it's absolutely horrifying/amazing:
As Bill Hader later pointed out later, though, just because it was a welcomed suggestion on set didn’t mean that it was actually going to end up in the finished cut of IT Chapter Two. During our interview, the actor explained that the “You’ve got to be fucking kidding” delivery was one of many different alternate takes that were filmed for the moment – with co-star James Ransone jumping in to note that moment was very much representative of the experience working with Andy Muschietti during the production of the movie.
What did you think of The Thing reference in IT Chapter Two? Did you get it immediately and appreciate the callback? Are you surprised that it wasn’t something that was directly inspired by the book? Hit the comments section below, and be on the lookout for more stories from my conversation with the new movie’s cast and filmmakers!