The 7 Scariest Scenes In 'IT' That Will Convince You To Read The Stephen King Novel

Warner Bros. Pictures

Please raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by Stephen King's It. My first exposure to Pennywise the Dancing Clown (and the beginning of my subsequent coulrophobia) was when I was an ACTUAL INFANT. That's right, my father decided to watch the miniseries version of It with me when I was a baby, apparently not realizing that it would scar me for life. To make absolutely sure that I would remain traumatized by clowns and giant spider-creatures for the rest of my days, he proceeded to sit me down to watch it AGAIN when I was seven. Somehow my mom resisted strangling him (an actual miracle considering I slept with the lights on for like a week), and now watching It is one of my favorite bonding activities with my dad.

Obviously, my dad and I are extremely excited about the new movie version of It, starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Like, so excited that my dad just keeps texting me clown emojis, which is kind of sweet and kind of weird. With just a few weeks to go before the film's released, I decided that now would be a good time to reread the book. Yup, all 1,100+ pages of it.

Reading Stephen King's It is definitely a bit of an undertaking. More importantly, it's also a completely terrifying experience. This is, hands down, the scariest book I've ever read. I had two nightmares before I was even 300 pages in. King is known for being the master of creepy, but, having read a number of his novels, I think It goes beyond any horror novel I've ever read. If the new film is even half as scary as the book, I'll still be sleeping with the lights on for a couple of days.

It by Stephen King, $13.14, Amazon

If you don't think you'll be able to tackle It before the movie comes out, I'll save you some time. I've compiled what I think are the seven scariest scenes in Stephen King's It. Read at your own risk; I'm not taking the blame for your nightmares.

"Hi, Georgie."

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Poor Georgie; he just wanted his paper boat. In this iconic scene, little George Denbrough encounters Pennywise peeking up from a sewer after a rainstorm. Lured in by his promise to return the paper sailboat that had fallen into the gutter, Georgie comes closer to the clown, reaching his hand into the gutter...only to have his arm pulled off by Pennywise, leaving him to bleed out on the street. Yeah, the book starts delivering the gore in the very first chapter. I still don't like to look into gutters.

"Like it wanted to eat his heart."

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This scene is terrifying on both a human and a supernatural level. Adrian, a member of Derry's small gay population, is beaten to a pulp by a gang of homophobes and then thrown over a ledge into the canal. Terrible, right? It gets worse: Pennywise is waiting for him below. One witness says the clown took a giant bite out of Adrian's side, while his boyfriend swears he watched Pennywise break Adrian's ribs and pull him into the sewers. Either way, his mutilated body is found the next day, with some chunks taken out of him. Did I mention this book isn't for the squeamish?

"Want a balloon, Ben?"

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I'm not sure why this scene scares me so badly, but I had a nightmare immediately after reading it. (I wouldn't recommend reading It and then trying to sleep, btw.) As Ben walks home on a cold winter's day, he spots someone standing in the middle of the frozen canal. The figure is wearing a clown suit and carrying a bunch of balloons. If that's not weird enough, the balloons are blowing against the wind. I don't know why this detail is so terrifying, but it tips Ben off that something isn't right. This suspicion is confirmed when he sees that the thing in the clown suit is actually a mummy, and that it's coming close to him...

"Come on down Eddie."

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Pro tip for reading It: If you're introduced to a kid who isn't part of the Loser's Club, don't get too attached to them. We learn this the hard way with Eddie, who's on the run from his abusive stepdad. Pennywise initially appears to him as his murdered little brother before turning into the Creature from the Black Lagoon and ripping his head off. That clown really has a thing about tearing off body parts.

"We all float down here."

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I read this chapter several days ago, and I keep casting suspicious looks at my drain every time I use the bathroom. That's the power of It. In this scene, Beverly starts hearing the voices of dead children coming from her drain. The voices culminate into blood bubbling up and spraying her bathroom, but her parents can't see it. Bev and the Losers are left cleaning up a bloodbath only they can see. See, now you won't trust your plumbing either.

"I worry about you, Bevvie"

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Sometimes a subtle creepiness is scarier than blood and guts. When Beverly returns to her old house, she finds a beautiful older woman living there. The more the two talk, however, the more Bev notices that the woman is changing right before her eyes. Suddenly the beautiful old woman is gone, and in her place is a terrifying witch right out of Hansel and Gretel. As if things couldn't get worse, that witch becomes Bev's abusive father, before ultimately turning into Pennywise himself. Can this book just CALM DOWN for a minute, please?

"Drive you crazy and then kill you all!"

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For me, this is hands-down the scariest scene in the original miniseries, and the novel's version of it is no less horrifying. The Losers are looking at pictures of Derry going back to the 1700's, and a certain homocidal clown is in every one of them. Suddenly the photos comes alive, and Pennywise comes this close to breaking free of a picture. (There's an equally terrifying scene like this earlier in the book, except that one stars poor dead George and a lot more blood.)