Warning: SPOILERS ahead for IT Chapter Two.
IT Chapter Two is full of Easter eggs and references to other Stephen King stories, along with numerous cameos and inside-jokes. The sequel to the 2017 mega-hit horror film IT Chapter One, the film sees a group childhood friends, known as "The Loser's Club", reuniting as adults to put a stop to the evil, supernatural clown Pennywise, whom they had previously battled as children in the quiet town of Derry, Maine. The two films mark the second adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 novel, following the 1990 television miniseries of the same name.
Given the legacy of King's novel and the miniseries, both IT Chapter One and IT Chapter Two debuted with a level of hype and anticipation almost unheard of for an R-rated horror movie, with both films posting opening weekend numbers rarely seen in the month of September. Bill Skarsgard's spine-tingling performance in both films as the sociopathic clown Pennywise has earned him massive critical and audience acclaim, while the success of the two-parter doubtlessly played a major role in Warner Bros. bringing director Andy Mushcietti aboard to direct The Flash.
Along with its nearly three-hour runtime, IT Chapter Two shares another trait with many Stephen King adaptations, namely being sprinkled with Easter eggs to King's body of work, along with references to other horror films and several notable cameo appearances.
IT Chapter Two Has Several Notable Cameos
IT Chapter Two has no shortage of cameos, and none stand out more prominently than that of the Master of Horror himself, Stephen King. His appearance comes specifically when Bill Denbrough visits an antique shop in Derry, where he buys back his old bicycle, with King portraying the owner of the antique shop. King has been known to make cameos in adaptations of his novels before, but rarely have they risen to the level of a Stan Lee cameo, and perhaps even a little more prominent than that, as it does here.
Other cameos seen in the film include director Andy Muschietti appearing just behind the adult Eddie Kaspbrak during a visit to the Derry pharmacy, along with filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich appearing as the director of a film adaptation of one of Bill's novels. Additionally, IT Chapter Two makes a callback to the 1990 miniseries with an appearance by Brandon Crane, who portrayed the young Ben Hanscom in the miniseries. What's more, Crane's cameo is filmed in such a way as to momentarily throw the audience off by thinking he's the adult Ben, before introducing us to Jay Ryan as the modern version of the character.
Molly Atkinson plays Eddie's mother and wife
One of the best-known elements of Eddie's character arc is his troubled relationship with his mother, Sonia, played by Molly Atkinson. As Eddie discovers in IT Chapter One, he's a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, with his mother having led him to believe that he's chronically ill and Eddie discovering he's only been bringing home "gazebos" from his trips to the Derry pharmacy.
Twenty-seven years later, Eddie once again finds himself in a relationship with another over-dependent character in the form of his wife, Myra. Though her appearance in the film is essentially another cameo, it's also a callback to its predecessor, with Molly Atkinson assuming the role of Myra. Atkinson also reprises her role of Sonia in the film, giving poor Eddie a double dose of dealing with over-bearing loved ones manipulating his life.
"Angel of the Morning" References The Langoliers
The return of Eddie's mother also lays the foundation for a subtle Easter egg to Stephen King's 1990 novella, The Langoliers. When Eddie visits the Derry pharmacy, he experiences a flashback to encountering Pennywise in the basement in the form of a leper. Eddie re-experiences the illusion of desperately trying to save his mother before fleeing in terror as the leper finally gets hold of her. In the present, the leper returns to attack the adult Eddie, who, this time, manages to summon to courage to fight back against the embodiment of his worst fears.
During their confrontation, the leper projectile vomits on Eddie while a snippet from the song Angel of the Morning takes over the soundtrack. Though it will surely take many audience members back to the opening credits of 2016's Deadpool, this is a subtle Easter egg to Craig Toomey's alcoholic mother in The Langoliers, who frequently played the song while drunk with her terrified son in tears in his bedroom. Though Toomey's mother and Angel of the Morning were both omitted completely from the 1995 television adaptation, it's nevertheless an under-the-radar Easter egg to King's novella that eagle-eyed fans are sure to appreciate.
The Turtle Paperweight References Maturin
The cosmic turtle Maturin may not get the same kind of front-and-center cameo in IT Chapter Two as Stephen King himself does, but the film does at least tip its hat to the character. This is seen when Ben pays a visit to the Derry school he attended with The Loser's Club as a child. As Ben briefly looks into a vacant classroom, a large paperweight shaped like a turtle can be seen on the teacher's desk, a clear reference to the eon's old turtle.
Maturin is a crucial character to Stephen King's interwoven literary universe, an entity that exists in a void known as the "Macroverse" who literally vomits the universe into existence. Maturin is also known as one of the Twelve Guardians of the Beam in King's Dark Tower series and plays a major role in the novel IT in helping The Loser's Club defeat Pennywise during The Ritual of Chud. Though Maturin doesn't make an appearance in the film beyond a paperweight on a teacher's desk, with the allusions Andy Muschietti has made to exploring the origins of Pennywise in another film, the possibility still exists for the wise old turtle to finally get his moment in the spotlight.
Stan's Head Is A Callback To The Thing
When The Loser's Club return to the dilapidated old house where they first battled Pennywise as children, IT Chapter Two also pays tribute to John Carpenter's The Thing. The film's tribute to Carpenter comes when Bill, Richie, and Eddie are confronted by the rotting but sentient head of the young Stan Uris, who earlier in the film had committed suicide upon learning of the return of Pennywise (though The Loser's Club later receive a heartfelt letter from their old friend explaining his decision.)
The appearance of Stan's head, which sprouts spider-legs and attacks the group, prompts Richie to loudly exclaim "You've gotta be f**king kidding!" The line is taken directly from The Thing, when the same thing takes place with the head of Vance Norris, leading Palmer to incredulously shout those very words. Like all great horror directors, Andy Muschietti clearly knows how to pay tribute to an iconic classic.
"Here's Johnny!" Directly Quotes The Shining
The Loser's Club's climactic battle with Pennywise also includes a quite overt Easter egg to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's novel, The Shining, specifically when Pennywise uses his supernatural powers to trap Beverly in a bathroom stall. As the stall begins rapidly filling with blood, Pennywise repeatedly cracks open the door to terrorize Beverly while taking the form of several antagonistic characters from her childhood. Among them is The Loser's Club's long-standing bully and Pennywise's henchman Henry Bowers, who screams "Heeeeeere's Johnny!" to the terrified Beverly.
That line is, of course, among the most quoted scenes from The Shining, spoken by Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, after he chops through a bathroom door with an axe in pursuit of his hysterical wife Wendy, played by Shelley Duvall. Additionally, the blood filling the bathroom stall is also a bit of a callback to the film's famous scene of a river of blood bursting from an elevator. Though Stephen King was famously dissatisfied with Kubrick's adaptation of his novel (even going as far as to write and executive produce a television miniseries closer to his vision of the story in 1997), audiences are nevertheless sure to delight at Muschietti's tribute to one of the most iconic lines in horror cinema.
Inside-Jokes About Stephen King's Endings
A running joke throughout IT Chapter Two of Bill's difficulty with writing strong endings is also an in-joke to similar criticisms that Stephen King's own work has seen. One of the most blatant digs at Bill's endings comes during the Peter Bogdanovich cameo, with the director and Bill's wife Audra, played by Jess Weixler, admonishing him of the need for a stronger ending in the film adaptation of one of his books. Later in the film, Richie encourages the rest of the Loser's Club to leave Derry before their reunion "Ends worse than one of Bill's books."
However, the film's biggest one-liner on Bill's unsatisfying payoffs comes from Stephen King himself. As Bill is buying back his old bike from the antique store owner, he sees a copy of one of his novels in the store. When Bill asks if he would like him to autograph to book, the grumpy owner declines by stating "I didn't like the ending." Given that IT Chapter Two sees its own alterations from the ending of King's novel, the running joke on Bill's weakness for creating satisfying endings is an amusing meta-angle taken by the film that King's fans will doubtlessly pick up on.