We’re rapidly approaching the release of It Chapter Two, and new nightmares for the Losers Club along with it. Based on prolific author Stephen King’s expansive novel, the adaptation demonstrates what King’s works do so well; it achieves the perfect balance of heart and scares. We care about the characters, which enhances the horrors they encounter.
Emphasis on the horror. King is deeply unafraid to take his characters to some dark, twisted places. And some truly grisly places as well. While we wait for the conclusion to Andy Muschietti’s adaptation this September, we look back at some of the most gruesome moments King’s characters have endured so far.
Maximum Overdrive – Soda and Steam Rolled
Adapted and directed by King himself from his short story “Trucks”, the plot sees all inanimate machines coming to life and hellbent on destroying humans after Earth passes through a comet’s tail. While Maximum Overdrive isn’t a gory film, it does go pretty bold with one particularly nasty kill early on. A Little League coach gets pummeled to death by a vending machine that fires sodas at him at close range, leaving his young team fleeing in terror. The vending machine then takes aim at the kids, and one tries to flee only to trip and immediately get squished by a steamroller. Killing kids is a cinematic taboo, and King shatters it nearly straightaway.
Pet Sematary – Poor Jud
No matter which adaptation of Pet Sematary you choose, Jud Crandall suffers greatly for telling Louis Creed about the ancient burial ground. But since it’s Mary Lambert’s 1989 adaptation from which the reboot takes its cues, we’re going with that one. After failing to prevent Louis from burying the recently deceased toddler Gage in the sour ground, Jud becomes target number one when Gage comes back. With Louis’ scalpel in hand, Jud’s Achilles heel and mouth are cut wide open before Gage tears into his jugular with his mouth. No fair.
Creepshow 2 “The Raft” – Laverne’s death
Based on a King short story, the second segment in this anthology sequel sees a foursome get more than they bargained for with a day at the lake when they discover it’s inhabited by a strange oil slick. An oil slick type sludge that painfully devours any living thing it comes in contact with. The two remaining survivors let their guards down (or more like Randy opts to fondle Laverne while she sleeps), and the sludge takes that opportunity to continue its feeding frenzy. Poor Laverne. It’s a gross way to go.
Dreamcatcher – Bowel Movement from Hell
Four friends on a camping trip discover the area is plagued with weird alien parasites that are spreading fast. They learn that the hard way when they let a sickly man rest inside their cabin, only to later find him dead and sitting bloodied on the toilet. The three-foot-long lamprey-like parasite destroyed him coming out, and is trapped in the toilet until poor Beaver’s OCD causes it to get loose. Yup. It’s Beaver versus the bowel-movement parasite. Talk about an unpleasant way to go, both for the sickly stranger and Beaver.
The Mist – Spider Massacre
Thanks to the monstrous creatures lurking in the strange mist that envelopes the small town in this King adaptation, very few deaths are tame. The things rip at flesh, bisect bodies with ease, and poison with stingers. But the most gruesome moment of all is the spider sequence, which sees a handful of volunteers venture over to the Pharmacy next door to check for supplies and possible survivors. Instead, they’re ambushed by spider-creatures that have acidic webs and flesh-ripping fangs. Spiders that like to also impregnate their human prey with eggs. It’s arguably the most gruesome way to go in the entire movie.
The Green Mile – Sabotaged Execution
One of the most gruesome moments doesn’t even come from a horror film. Inmate Eduard Delacroix is slated for execution, but The Green Mile makes it clear who the antagonists are long before his final day comes. Percy Wetmore brutally steps on his pet mouse, breaks his fingers with a baton, and takes every chance to verbally abuse him. The worst of it comes with his execution by electric chair. Wetmore deliberately avoids soaking a sponge in water to act as an electricity conduct so that Delacroix suffers a far more painful and elongated death– eventually burning alive. It’s one thing to read that aloud, but it’s another to spend an excruciatingly long three minutes watching it happen.
The Dark Half – Sparrow death
This time it’s not a character we sympathize with that gets a gruesome demise, but the evil protagonist getting his just desserts. At the end of The Dark Half, a massive flock of sparrows – agents of Hell come to collect their evil soul – swarms the Beaumont household to retrieve George Stark. They don’t carry him away; they peck, claw, and tear away his flesh to the bone until there’s nothing left. King has always been a master at taking benevolent objects and making them terrifying. In this case, it’s sparrows.
It – Georgie Floats Too
Fans of King’s novel know that little Georgie’s death is pretty graphic, but was tamed quite a bit for the 1990 made-for-TV movie. Director Andy Muschietti made sure to give quite a brutal introduction to Pennywise, with the temptation of Georgie that gives way to his harrowing attempt to crawl away once Pennywise has bitten off his arm. If you want to show audiences that you’re not messing around with a King adaptation, this is how you do it.
Misery – Hobbling
Really, this is one scene that needs no preface or introduction. Annie Wilkes is a monster, and boy does this make me cringe every single time.
Gerald’s Game – Degloving
Mike Flanagan successfully adapted a novel that was once considered unadaptable for film. Then he took it a step further by delivering a moment so gruesome that it caused people to pass out. Yup. The degloving scene. Jessie Burlingame’s final attempt to free herself from the handcuffs comes with some serious levels of self-mutilation that we never knew was physically possible until Flanagan put it on screen.