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Muschietti Talks Paintings that Inspired Nightmarish New ‘IT’ Creature

Muschietti Talks Paintings that Inspired Nightmarish New ‘IT’ Creature

One of the things that separates the titular monster in IT from other movie monsters is that it can take the form of whatever it needs to in order to achieve its ultimate goal: terrifying children and then, well, eating them.

Of course, IT most often takes the form of Pennywise the dancing clown, but he’s also been known to transform into everything from a wolf man to a homeless leper. In Andy Muschietti‘s new adaptation, IT appears to young Stanley Uris as a brand new creation from Muschietti’s own mind: a flute-playing, unnatural-looking woman who literally emerges from a painting that hangs in the office of Stanley’s father. Stanley is terrified of the painting, and rightfully so, which IT naturally preys upon to a nightmarish extent.

Judith, ‘IT’

You may have noticed that the woman from the painting, played by actress Tatum Lee, looks a whole lot like the title character from Muschietti’s previous film, Mama. Both Mama and the new Pennywise form, named Judith in the film’s credits, have the same elongated, deformed face, as well as the same set of eerily vacant eyes.

Was Judith brought into IT as Muschietti’s way of paying homage to his debut horror effort? Well, maybe. But in a chat with New York Times this week, Muschietti revealed that the inspiration behind Judith was actually Italian-Jewish artist Amedeo Modigliani, whose paintings clearly also inspired the look of Mama.

Mama, ‘Mama’

It’s a literal translation of a very personal childhood fear,” Muschietti told the site, narrating the scene where Judith first appears. “In my house, there was a print of a Modigliani painting that I found terrifying. And the thought of meeting an incarnation of the woman in it would drive me crazy.

He continued, describing the late Modigliani’s work…

He often does these portraits with elongated characters. His vision of humans were with elongated necks, crooked faces and empty eyes most of the time. It was so deformed that as a child, you don’t see that as an artist’s style. You see it as a monster.”

Just as IT takes the form of whatever scares any given child, it sounds like Modigliani’s paintings have haunted Andy Muschietti ever since he first laid eyes on them as a child. That childhood fear has clearly stuck with him all these years, haunting his early horror work and resulting in the creation of two truly terrifying movie monsters.

Check out some of Modigliani’s actual paintings below.



  • Khy

    Haha, that’s pretty awesome. I loved how he incorporated his own fear- I thought the painting woman was really unsettling. Another example of one wonderful addition that wasn’t in the novel but fits the material perfectly!

    I’m willing to bet money Stan sees Judith again when he gets the call to come back to Derry and that leads him to offing himself…

  • sliceanddice

    Did this bit remind anyone else of the painting scene in Conjuring 2?

    • Khy

      Well Gary Dauberman, the screenwriter, wrote both Annabelle movies and is writing The Nun so he’s really close with James Wan- it wouldn’t surprise me if it was an intended nod to the Conjuring 2 itself in addition to being a representation of Muchietti’s own childhood fear. Pretty cool!

  • I don’t know why, but this fear was the most relatable to me. I used to have nightmares about women with disfigured faces so this was a heart attack for me!

    • Khy

      It’s also one of the most child-like fears. While every one else have a lot of serious psychological fears such as Bill being afraid to admit that Georgie is dead, or Beverly being afraid of what her father does to her, or Mike being afraid to take a life- Stan’s isn’t as complicated but its still scary as fuck and that’s what I liked about it.

      • Samael

        I don’t think its less complicated, I think its possibly just as much its just we don’t get to know Stan’s relationship with his family as clearly. Consider the context of the painting. Its something in his father’s office, a place he is sent when he has failed before his father. Its easy to assume this is not the first time he has been sent there, with only the portrait for company. It could easily be associated with the sense of shame and lonliness – made stronger by the fact he panics later when left alone and attacked later.

        But as a possible minor aside, it sits crooked on its hook. Stan is established in both book and to an extent here as wanting things to be clean and neat and in order and yet the painting will not sit straight.

        • Khy

          Wonderful analysis. I kept this in mind as I saw the movie again today.

  • Grimphantom

    I also felt he had some inspiration for Pennywise in his monster form from the original Fright Night

    • Frank Gambino

      grim,cool comparison. looks similar.

    • Barb

      ACTUALLY, I think Pennywise was inpired by this dude from the incredibles

    • Dr.Megan

      Fright night is awesome! Jerry Dandridge the apple-eating vampire!

      • Grimphantom

        You’ll be happy to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will have Halloween special where Chris Sarandon will guest star as the voice of Dracula, there’s some Fright Night reference along with it.

        • Dr.Megan

          Wow! I will look for that.

  • Creepshow

    That goddamn flute playing woman, bugged me out the most. Damn You!
    And of course, I’ll subject myself to “IT” again next weekend.

  • C-3PO’s

    These are exactly the kinds of articles that I like the best from you guys; ones that go above and beyond the regular reporting of horror news.

  • Pls guys great article but can you wait at least a week or two before start spoiling everything about the movie? Yes it pulled great numbers this weekend but it doesn’t mean everybody saw it…

  • REC03

    ***Spoiler*** I was really distracted by how much it looked like Mama. I know Andy did that also but it took me out. I did like how she had her entire mouth over Stan that was awesome even if it was done first in The Taking of Deborah Logan

    • Tony Harley

      I thought he was done for as that moment happened so when he got up all fine I was so shocked lol

    • The Hobotron

      She was showing him

      (the deadlights)
      her uvula piercing.

  • Sanger


  • Rebecca Bridges

    I thought the painting looked like Bill Compton ?

  • Ima Hugger
  • Nick J. Villamil

    This lady freaked the shit out of me. She reminded me so much of this guy from Courage the cowardly dog show.
    I used to have nightmares about this dude and they both have the same creepiness to them.

  • Nicole Grandjean

    I have a phobia of big paintings depicting anthropomorphic beings and religious statues and I had never really seen it reflected as realistically as I saw in on this film. Like, Stan covering his eyes when walking past the painting, that irrational fear being always a part of your daily life… that is me every time I go to a museum or go anywhere near a church. I loves the movie but that part, I particularly enjoyed. Obviously it was one the parts that freaked me out the most but it was also one of my favorites simply because of empathy. It’s such a silly thing to be afraid of but phobias do not respond to logic and it was strangely nice (and horrifying) seeing it on film.

  • Nettrice

    I knew what the inspiration was as soon as I saw the painting in the study. This just confirms it.

  • Casey

    This may sound a bit far out but this picture immediately reminded me of the Jewish mythological demon Lilith. I took the flute as a shepards staff… And since the scene was set in the office of a Jewish Synagogue it just made sense to me. Lilith was from during the Babylonian times and is depicted in many different statues and drawings by many different variations, but was known for being a baby thief among other things scary. After reading this post it does make more sense that it is just another find piece by this author. No matter what it’s pretty scary.

  • Tony Harley

    I thought her and the lepper looked too comical/unreal for me to really like it but her (spoilers spoilers spoilers) biting stans face was one of the creepiest moments for me.

    • The Hobotron

      I thought it actually went along with Stan’s fear in the book of things being “wrong” or “offensive” to his view of reality. That lady was just NOT RIGHT. From the get-go, I was freaked out by her. I don’t care that she wasn’t in the book, she was ten times more terrifying than the dead boys would’ve been, plus she didn’t need the backstory that they would have. 100% okay with not being okay with that lady.

  • Dr.Megan

    We’re not going to talk about Judith. We’re not going to talk about Judith at all.

    • Rick Sanchez

      Oh we’re gonna talk about her, alright. We’re going to talk about the fact that she will be waiting in your bedroom, March 19th, 2018 at exact 3:19 AM. Maybe it’s best we don’t talk about that.

      • Dr.Megan


        • Rick Sanchez

          Oh wait, my bad. I was thinking of Dr. Morgan! Man, am I embarrassed. Judith won’t be around for you until August 5th, 2018. I apologize for the error.

          • Dr.Megan

            haha whew! That’s a relief. Wait….

  • Sara G.

    The scariest thing in the movie, to me. When I was a child I was terrified by a Modigliani print in my grandpa house (it was the second from the top in this page). It’s great to realize it wasn’t just me. It’s a small world 😉

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