Movie Review- Stephen King’s IT

Hi Folks,

 

 

Luckily for me Mr. Voorhees is very interested in what I say about him on Fridays this month (his mother later this week heaven help me) and has therefore allowed me to continue in my current habit of not having sharp things embedded in my face.

 

He's gone soft.

So unluckily for you we get to continue with our little game here, and away we go!

 

So contestant number two here in Shocktober is another Fright Dyke favorite, and despite it’s goofy ending and failure to have any gory violence at all

IT is a traumatic film and resoundingly popular, particularly considering that it was never released in theaters and has the distinction of having no nudity in it whatsoever.

 

Remarkable, let’s see how they did it.

 

it's totally hypnotoad

 

Fast Facts-

 

A made for Television mini-series event on ABC in 1990 IT runs a staggering 192 minutes long (or 3 hours and 12 minutes for those of you who are math impaired) that’s a full half hour longer than Watchmen and only ten minutes shorter than Return of the King. This one is a long haul commitment.

Based on the 1000+ page novel by Stephen King, it follows a group of seven friends who fought a shape-shifting, child eating entity when they were misfit children and now must try to stop it again as adults. Also the shape IT most frequently chooses is a clown…well of course.

Can't we all just agree that they're evil by default?

Cast-

The film is told both in the present and in a spate of woven in flashbacks taking us between 1960 and 1990, the result is that this movie essentially has two casts, the seven losers having to be played by both child and adult actors. For shits and giggles I have included in the rundown which actor did the better job of it.

 

 

I will eventually like your beard

I like your beard

John Ritter/Brandon Crane- Ben Hanscombe, the fat, sensitive one in the group who dreams of getting the girl he’s affectionately referred to as ‘Haystack’ for most of the movie. Both actor’s do a fine job but I have to give Ritter the edge.

 

 

 

 

 

This is way worse than the monkey...

Yes TIm will be wearing the makeup ALL THE TIME sir

Harry Anderson/Seth Green-Richie Tozier, the joker nerd of the Losers club, surprisingly likeable even with the corny jokes. Again both actors do a nice job but I have to go with Green and not just for name recognition young Richie had the potential to be absolutely obnoxious and Seth Green keeps him charming.

 

 

 

Woo hoo five lines of dialogue

Woo Hoo five minutes of screen time...

RichardMasur/Ben Heller-Stanley Uris, no one’s really sure what Stan’s doing here apart from being a Jewish boy scout and getting majorly freaked out. Nod has to go to Heller because of the small sample size available for his adult counterpart.

 

 

 

 

 

easy there slutty mcslutterton

You were so cute when you were little

Annette O’ Toole/Emily Perkins-Beverly Marsh is the token girl, her problem is that she’s poor and her father is a douchebag. Adult Beverly is kind of annoying so we’ll go with Miss Perkins for the win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He's like a poor man's Denzel

He's like a poor man's...I don't know

Tim Reid/Marlon Taylor- Mike Hanlon, The token black guy and the only one of the kids to stay in Derry after the events of the 60’s Mike stays on the lookout for IT to return and to be Derry’s very likable old black librarian. Therefore we have to go with Mr. Reid.

 

 

 

 

This is what Stephen King thinks he looks like

This is what Stephen King thinks he looked like when he was 12...

Richard Thomas/Johnathan Brandis-Bill Denborough is the horror novelist of the group (this is a Stephen King story) and our stammering hero, the de facto leader of the losers club is frankly one of the weaker performers in both time periods but Johnathan Brandis is the better of the two.

 

 

 

The only one with the good sense to look scared

He just got told his odds of having a prom date in 5 years

Dennis Christopher/Adam Faraizl- Eddie Kaspbrak is the asthmatic wimp and momma’s boy, mostly there to be made fun of and be scared and Dennis Christopher does this exceptionally well in the adult segments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scary as fuck

Fuck off

Tim Curry/giant spider thing- Pennywise/giant spider thing. This might be my favorite performance by Tim Curry ever. That man singlehandedly made me afraid of clowns and sewer grates. The giant spider thing can just fuck off.

 

 

Observations

 

IT is one of those movies that I watch periodically when I can no longer remember what scared me about it. The fact of the matter is that the first half of the movie, the one dominated by the flashback sequences is still terrifying some twenty years after the first time I saw it. (yup my father relented on this one too, at the tender age of 5 but it was mostly my older sister’s pleading.) And the second half is mostly comedy for me now.

Pennywise: Indignant

Because IT is a movie about childhood fears, Pennywise the dancing clown is terrifying if you’re 9 not so much at 30, but the first half keeps the fright factor because they do such a wonderful job of making the audience identify with the youngsters that you feel it again a very primal connection to the idea that there is something the adults don’t understand and IT is out to get you.

Just as soon as his break is over

The second half feels kind of forced and the ending is sort of the perfect encapsulation of that, it’s like King forgot that he had to write an ending and just pulled something out of his ass at the last second. The ending to the movie is better than the ending to the book so thank goodness he improved. But the adults are just not nearly as endearing or relatable as the kids. Beverly in particular gets kind of grating, she is constantly and forever touching every single other cast member and in sort of uncomfortably intimate ways. The dialogue is tritely nostalgic and not believable coming from grown people. If this was an attempt to make the audience connect these new actors with the characters that they had already connected with; the attempt is duly noted and the idea is sound but the execution of it has the exact opposite effect.

Of the two casts in this film; these guys are NOT the losers

There isn’t a whole lot of gore in IT , having been made for TV even the scene in Beverly’s bathroom where blood spurts out of the sink like a geyser, it’s disconnected from violence and feels like a sight gag more than a scare. The idea of violence in this film is far more important than violence itself. As I’ve said before horror is all about anticipation and IT  frankly talks the talk but rarely walks the walk, there isn’t a whole lot of on-screen carnage and Pennywise likes to play mental games rather than beat the fear into you.

Besides bludgeoning clearly is not his MO

There are several wonderful scenes in this movie, one of the first; the death of George; Bill’s younger brother is by far the most frightening for me, I saw it when I was five and couldn’t bring myself to look at the screen during it again for about ten years after that. The image of Tim Curry in the clown makeup, down the storm drain stuck with me. What is supposed to be a fun, harmless entertainment of children quite literally in the gutter luring poor little George to the curb. There is something terrifying and predatory about Curry in that scene; he plays it perfectly there is nothing about how he acts with the kid that would make a 7 year old wise to his act. It’s the wink he’s giving the audience, the subtle twitch of a smile and the hard, hungry stare he’s giving him that makes everyone witnessing the exchange shudder, waiting for the grisly punch line to Curry’s little in-joke.

Sometimes it's a good thing to be out of the loop

It’s that subtlety that makes the other scenes as well: Eddie’s shower after gym, Beverly’s encounter with her bathroom sink and even the clown yukking it up for Richie in the library as an adult all have that same underlying menace over what is a positively ridiculous exterior.

 

and we do mean...

RIDICULOUS

Holy crap that got awfully serious…it sounded like legitimate analysis in here for a moment. Let’s start over….

 

Tim Curry is a creepy motherfucker.  End.

 

This is weird because he's totally doing the Frank N Furter face

Final Thoughts

 

Every time I watch this I’m amazed at how well it holds up, crappy ending or no there is still something petrifying about the idea of IT. The idea of a real life boogeyman who likes to play a charming little game of cat and mouse with you before luring you to an untimely death. It’s been done before and since and never with as much effectiveness as this film. Tim Curry absolutely puts this thing on his back and carries it for three hours to the finish line and that’s not really a bad thing.

 

You know if you don't mind seeing him on screen a lot

But some credit here has to be given to the writer who knows the scariest things are the things that remind us we are small and edible and should absolutely be afraid of the things that know that and exploit it.

 

Because IT is childhood, it is ever changing and it is everything you ever were afraid of.

 

All in all even now I give it a 8.5 out of 10.

 

 

 

Your regressive Screamstress,

 

 

~Fright Dyke

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3 Responses to “Movie Review- Stephen King’s IT”

  1. maturehorrorfan Says:

    Still one of the best scary movies because of the anticipation of what’s coming more than what’s actually happening, same quality as jaws and scary movie. Still say the older films that relied more on writing ala hitchcock are better than the newer films that rely heavily on CGI and special effects.

  2. FrightBro #2 Says:

  3. Ah, this movie. 🙂 This brings back memories.

    I first saw this in the late-90’s (almost a decade after it first aired, sadly), when I was in middle school. And Stan’s purpose in the movie, besides being a nervous wreck and a Jewish boy scout, was to stand around and look hot. How the heck could my friends and I be scared of a damned clown when we were too busy going goo-goo gaga over Ben Heller (and Jonathan Brandis)?

    Yeeee-ahhh…we were dorks. 😉

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