“Once you get into cosmological shit like this, you got to throw away the instruction manual.” – Stephen King, IT.
Next year we will be hit with director Andres Muschietti’s follow up to his hit adaptation of part one of Stephen King’s IT starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Jay Ryan, and Isaiah Mustafa as the adult Losers Club, with Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Recently I wrote up an article explaining how much of a major role I expect to see the little Losers Club play in the upcoming sequel, and I ended that article with the promise of letting all of you guys who might not know into just what The Ritual of Chud is. And this is that article. Many of you may have heard this term related to IT over the past few years – and especially in the year since the original film was released. But what is it? Does it have to do with Carnivorous Humanoid Underground Dwellers? Actually, I guess it kinda does – but not really. Allow me to explain.
The Ritual of Chud is something that originally comes up in the book back in the 1958 scenes. Chubby little chubby Ben Hanscom, ever the bookworm, brings along a guide to one of the Losers Club’s meetings and tells the tale of a ritual to get rid of evil. In the ritual, a young brave soul must walk right up to the creature in question… and stick out his tongue. Trust me, it gets weirder. The evil creature on the receiving end of said tongue-spitting then spits out its tongue, and the two foes are then meant to overlap tongues (yep), bite the fuck down, and then – get this shit – tell each other jokes, and the first one to laugh gets banished back to some other world for all time.
This is all straight from King’s original novel.
Fortunately for all of us constant readers, that’s not what actually goes down once little Stuttering Bill enters the deep, dark prehistoric cave of IT’s true form: the mighty spider Shelob! Oops, sorry, wrong story. To get back on track, yes, as we all know, the Losers Club encounters IT’s true spider-form, due to the fact that all of us have seen the AMC miniseries. But trust me again, all of this goes down MUCH different in the book.
In the original novel by Stephen King, it’s not just the adult version of the Losers Club that encounters IT’s spider form (which I can all but guarantee you, will be exorcised from the final film). In King’s novel, the kids Losers Club encounters the demon-spider as well. And how do you fight a demon spider from beyond the stars? Beats the shit out of me. But little Stuttering Bill tries his best. He pimp-walks right up to the massive spider and… locks eyes with it? Yep, little Bill locks eyes with this massive beast-mode Pennywise-Spider thing – thus beginning the REAL Ritual of Chud.
This is when shit gets REALLY weird.
As young Bill (and eventually older Bill, and Richie) stare at the spider-form of IT, they are transfixed by a strange orange light in IT’s (many) eyes. These are called the Deadlights. We’ve seen these Deadlights before both in the recent Andres Muschietti film – they’re what hypnotize young Beverly as she looks into the gaping mouth of Pennywise before her eyes turn all white and shit. And we’ve seen this in the original 1990 ABC miniseries – as the blindly white light that snatches up Bultch’s broken-ass backward into that sewer pipe. But in the novel, the Deadlights are only a doorway of sorts.
A doorway to where you might ask? Well, they’re a doorway to something King calls the “Macroverse.” Stick with me here. The Macroverse is, as best as I can figure with my puny human brain, another universe in another dimension. It’s basically like deep space – only there is a fucking titanic turtle in there. Yes, a gigantic intergalactic turtle. This giant turtle is one of the only two living beings in this epic Macroverse, with the only other living entity being IT. The turtle is the force for good in this Macroverse, and IT is, naturally, the force of Evil.
Young Bill and old Bill (and eventually adult Richie) are thrown into this Macroverse via locking eyes with IT and here is when an epic battle begins. Bill is thrown by IT through this endless space and taunted that he is heading towards the true Deadlights, a shifting bright mass of lights contained within in massive galaxy that will hold Bill’s soul forever, for lack of a better term, alive and insane for all time.
IT does this special ritual will Bill because he hates him so much for making the evil entity feel fear for the first time. IT is so fucking mad at this little boy that he is going to award him the ultimate punishment. But what IT doesn’t realize is that, once IT and this little boy Bill are out there in metaphysical space, without physical form, the child is just as powerful as IT. The only catch is, Bill has to realize this and stand up for himself for the first time in his life.
The Ritual of Chud is by far my favorite chapter of my favorite book of all time. The metaphysical struggle Bill has to undergo is one of the most inspiring things ever presented in a tale of terror. Bill first meets the titanic turtle on his journey to the Deadlights. But the turtle cannot save him. Instead in his last few moments Bill – and IT – feel the presence of something else out there in the nothingness.
IT always feared but never believed there was another entity out there in the Macroverse with him. IT always feared but never acknowledged that this other entity was much more powerful than Itself and/or the turtle combined. This other entity is, again for lack of a better term, God. And in Bill’s final moments this God figure speaks up and tells him how to defeat IT. Bill must speak the line “He Thrust His Fist Against the Posts” out loud, with confidence, and without stuttering. Once Bill is able to accomplish this, IT is defeated.
Now that may sound really strange – and really lame – that IT is killed off by a little boy – and his adult self, and his best friend – working together to say a simple phrase. But it’s actually a lot more in-depth and (relatively) straightforward than others make it out to be. To defeat IT, which feeds on fear, you must overcome fear. Of course, that’s not to say that when Bill comes out of the ritual he’s fearless, hardly. It just means that he must learn that no matter how horrific fear itself is, fear cannot hurt you. You have to push past fear and get to the work at hand.
This is a massively important lesson King places in the final chapters of his massive novel, and it is a sequence that I can only pray, Muschietti and his team keep in the final film. Sure it may be a bit daunting having the final confrontation in your epic 2-part horror film end with a mind-battle in the middle of outer space, but I think it could work.
After all, with the recent releases of Marvels’ Doctor Strange, and to a lesser degree Antman, we’ve seen the “Quantum Realm” and really its not much different than the Macroverse. Save, of course, the titanic turtle. But even still, the turtle can be presented visually as merely a cluster of stars that, like a cloud, only make out the appearance of a turtle. Boom there you go, visual mystery solved. Just check out this article’s header image for an idea of what I’m talking about.
And there you have it. That’s The Ritual of Chud. There’s much more to it than I could ever dream to put in this quick article, but all of this should give you a basic understanding of the Ritual. If you’d like to know more, you know the best place to find it: THE BOOK!
If you don’t already own multiple copies of the book yourself, you can buy copies pretty much any and everywhere these days. But to make it as easy on you as possible to get to reading what I consider to be my favorite novel of all time, then you can snag a copy on Amazon right HERE.
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