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It (1990)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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5.5
 / 10
24 votes
Genres / Traits:
Creature Film, Horror, Psychological Thriller, Thriller, Clowns
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 30, 2008
When Stephen King's novel "It" was transformed into a mini-series in 1990, I was glued to the screen. I was such a horror movie junkie -- even at eight-years-old -- that the idea of an evil, supernatural clown was one of the most exciting ideas imaginable. At that point I had not read that particular novel, but I had read some of King's lighter work and was already a fan. For an eight-year-old, "It" was just about as scary as any movie could be. Watching it now, as an adult, it loses a lot of its intensity and most of its scares -- it's more camp and humor than anything else, but you can't deny the fact that "It" was still a rather successful and influential horror film.

Like most of King's early work, the film takes place in Derry, Maine, and focuses on a group of friends who band together, as children, to confront a dark and sinister force in their town that takes the shape of a twisted and very dangerous clown named Pennywise (Tim Curry). The mini-series shows us flashbacks to these characters as children and then we cut back to scenes of these characters, as adults, deciding to re-convene in their small town to re-confront the evil after years and years of dormancy. These friends are Richie (Harry Anderson/Seth Green), Beverly (Annette O'Toole/Emily Perkins), Ben (John Ritter/Brandon Crane), Mike (Tim Reid/Marlon Taylor), Bill (Richard Thomas/Jonathan Brandis), Stanley (Richard Masur/Ben Heller) and Eddie (Dennis Christopher/Adam Faraizl). Most of their quest revolves Bill's quest for revenge after Pennywise kills his younger brother, Georgie, while the little boy is playing out in the rain. As children and adults, their quest seems the same.

This mini-series ran over the course of three nights and the film, as a whole, measures out at 3 hours and 12 minutes, all of which are surprisingly necessary to tell the story. A lot was left out of the original novel, including key characters and themes. But, on the whole, this is a rather strong adaptation of one of King's works. The production quality is high for a TV mini-series and the performances are universally solid here. Most notable are the group of comedians who all take dramatic turns, like Harry Anderson, John Ritter and Richard Masur. The standout performance in the film, however, comes from Tim Curry as Pennywise. This is yet another superb character performance from a man who has become so prolific in those kinds of roles. His scene in the drain with the little boy might be one of the creepiest and best staged horror sequences in cinematic history. It's certainly one of the most memorable moments of the film and left a lasting impression on me as a child.

As I mentioned before, however, "It" does not hold up as well in 2008 as it did in 1990. The special effects seem a little cheesy; some of the plot construction is weak; and the scares are a little goofy, at times. I would love to see Hollywood tackle a big-budget production of this work, budgets be damned, but I cannot imagine anyone other than Tim Curry as Pennywise. "It" still makes for engaging viewing, and though it runs over three hours, there really isn't a boring moment. The performances from the adult and child actors are engaging and are easily enough to carry you through. You can typically find this film in dollar bins at your local video store and it still hasn't been given a proper DVD treatment, but I recommend it to anyone who has yet to try it out. It's not entirely true to the source material, but that's usually the case with King adaptations. Regardless, you can watch the film and enjoy it on its merits, even when it gets a little hokey and over-the-top. 8/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 07/30/2008, 07:37 PM
Probably one of the worst King adaptations I've ever seen. Curry was great as Pennywise, but that wasn't enough to save this. 2/10
385 #2: 385 - added 07/30/2008, 10:43 PM
Never read the book, but I've never heard a bad thing about it. Likewise, I've never heard a good thing about this movie until now. Personally, I agree with the masses.
Edd #3: Edd - added 07/31/2008, 09:27 AM
I agree with Bluemeanie. Though not close to the book, it has it's own right to be a scary film based off of a Stephen King novel. John Ritter and Annette O'Toole are the standouts in this movie, and Curry plays an excellent Pennywise. 10/10.
Ginose #4: Ginose - added 08/04/2008, 02:09 AM
Didn't like the book. Didn't like the mini-series. As little as they had in common they did have two things I noticed: They weren't scary and they were extremely boring.
SAeriously, the plot of the book could have EASILY been a 20 page short story (if not shorter) and still had the same effect,in the same way, the mini-series could have been one half-hour special. I'm with Tristan on this, Curry was perfect as Pennywise, but everything else was trite and boring shit.
1.4/10
Chad #5: Chad - added 01/21/2009, 12:09 AM
Good movie - not great, not horrible, but somewhere in the middle. 5/10 sounds about right.

Now then, with that out of the way: telling this as a twenty-page short story or a thirty-minute special? Either you're confusing this with something else or you really, really missed the point.
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 11/06/2010, 12:00 AM
I enjoyed it, but the fucking ending was a buzz kill. 7/10
river19 #7: river19 - added 08/03/2011, 09:32 PM
I am a huge Stephen King fan. The book was friggin' awsome, one of my absolute favorites. Several people I've talked to have told me this movie scared them. I watched it in junior high with my younger brother and the kid fell asleep. No offense to anyone who likes this movie, but I think it sucks through a straw.
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