For the next review for our October Kingathon, here’s a review of IT (1990) by SG of Rhyme and Reason.
Let’s see what he thought of this movie:
Something is spoiling Derry with glee,
For children keep on disappearing.
I’m witnessing nightmares that no one can see,
And hearing things no one is hearing.
I’m taunted with promises that I will float
Like all the dead kids who submit,
But now I have friends with a chance yet remote
To finish the terrible It!
MPAA rating: Not Rated (should be PG-13)
I can just imagine Stephen King’s thought process for developing this story. “Let’s see. I’ve already given people reasons to fear hotels and St. Bernards and corn fields. What else can I ruin people’s perceptions of? I’ve got it: clowns! And why should I stop there? I’ll make the clown a mind manipulator and really spread the fear around. Sewer drains could be scary. Who knows what’s down there? And sinks and showers and balloons and fortune cookies and things that float!” Then came Tommy Lee Wallace to direct this TV miniseries adaptation, and he knew exactly how to translate the creepiness to the screen. Then they called Tim Curry and said, “Hey, you want to play a clown and traumatize a bunch of kids?” When all was said and done, we had Stephen King’s It, perhaps not the scariest of his adaptations but one that tends to dwell in the imagination nonetheless.
The miniseries is broken up into two parts. The first introduces each of the grown characters and flashes back to how they all met as kids in Derry, Maine, how they formed their very own Loser’s Club, and how they encountered and battled a malevolent kid-eating entity that masqueraded as a clown with dental problems. While this first half has some of the more unsettling moments with the infamous Pennywise, it also excels at establishing the seven main characters and their strengths, weaknesses, and fears. There’s Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas when grown-up), the storyteller/writer with a stutter; Ben Hanscom (John Ritter), the architect with a crush and a weight-loss program; Beverly Marsh (Annette O’Toole), the girl with a tendency toward abusive relationships; Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson), the high-strung comedian; Eddie Kaspbrak (Dennis Christopher), the weak and supposedly asthmatic “girly boy”; Stan Uris (Richard Masur), the nervous boy scout; and Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid), the curious black kid with a connection to the town. Their non-monster-related interactions carry that nostalgic childhood quality that King infused into Stand By Me, and the TV miniseries format kept the language much cleaner by comparison. (I enjoyed seeing Richard Thomas from The Waltons in another writer role, like John-Boy with a ponytail.)
The second part deals with the return of the dreaded It and the return of the Loser’s Club to Derry, though they’ve blocked out their childhood memories except for a few frightening recollections that make you wonder why on earth they would return to such a scary town. This conclusion has its good points too, both in the disturbing department (“Kiss me, fat boy!”) and in exploring how these former friends are reunited after drifting apart. Of course, Part 2’s most notorious aspect is the climactic reveal of It. After all of the horrifying imagery that preceded IT, IT turns out to be not a giant brain, not a pronoun, not Information Technology, but It’s…IT’s…! I’m not going to spoil It for the uninitiated, but needless to say, the actual It disappointed quite a few people, including my VC. In fact, the supposedly lame reveal is all I ever heard about It before actually seeing It, but It wasn’t that disappointing for me. If anything, the very final scene seemed more corny than the climax, though it was a clever use of monster-resisting “Silver.” The final battle is rather cheesy, but it’s important to keep in mind that Pennywise already said that It takes a form our puny minds can comprehend, so even the ending doesn’t really show It’s true form.
As my tone earlier on may imply, Stephen King’s It is the kind of horror film that can be disquieting but can just as easily be mocked for its overly dramatic moments. Tim Curry is perfectly malicious as Pennywise, and along with the clown doll in Poltergeist, It succeeded in instilling a distinct fear of clowns, as evidenced by the countless killer clown movies made since. Whether you watch It for the endearing child actors or the effective psychological terrors or the potentially eyebrow-raising excesses, It will still most likely leave you walking around sewer drains a little more cautiously than before.
Best line: (grown-up Richie, playing with Eddie) “I love this man. He’s like the kid brother I never had. Wait, he is the kid brother I never had!”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2015 S. G. Liput