In the scene in question, Hader’s Richie Tozier and his friends Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy) are confronted by a horrific Pennywise taunt in the form of the severed head of his friend Stanley Uris, who committed suicide rather than return to Derry to face the clown again. The scene was made famous by the 1990 TV miniseries version, but the film adaptation pushes the horror into new territory by giving us a version of Stanley’s head that grows appendages. If you’re a longtime horror fan, just reading that description might conjure up the image of another severed head growing legs and walking around in John Carpenter’s The Thing. Hader, fortunately for us, had the same realization while shooting the scene.
“When he turned into a spider, I said to Andy, ‘Oh, man, this is like The Thing,'” Hader told Uproxx. “And I said, ‘Oh, let me say what the guy said in that.’”
Hader recalled a similar version of events back in July when a clip featuring Stanley’s spider-head screened at ScareDiego, though we couldn’t reveal the exact tribute at the time due to Spoilers. After a bit of a YouTube refresher, Hader got the exact line — “You’ve gotta be f***ing kidding.” — and dropped it into the scene. It’s a fantastic homage, because it’s the kind of moment fans who’ve seen The Thing several times will recognize immediately, but it’s not so overt that the audience is taken out of the moment of what’s actually happening to the characters in the scene. It’s also subtle enough that it makes us want to go back to the theater right now just to try and find even more obscure horror Easter eggs buried among all those red balloons.