It (1990)

it poster 1990 movie tim curry stephen king
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Pennywise the Clown by Tim Curry

Second half isn't as good as the first half, dated

Movie Info

Movie Name:  It

Studio:  Green/Epstein Productions/Konigsberg/Sanitsky Company/Lorimar Television

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  November 18, 1990-November 20, 1990

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

it stanley uris pennywise the clown tim curry ben heller

It knows what scares you!

There is something evil living beneath Derry, Maine, and every thirty years, it rises to feast.  As children, Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas),Ben Hanscom (John Ritter), Beverly Marsh (Annette O’Toole), Eddie Kaspbrak (Dennis Christopher), Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson), Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid), and Stanley Uris (Richard Masur) faced down the evil that took the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Tim Curry).  Now as adults, the “Lucky Seven” have forgotten their childhood, but it is all coming back when the killing starts again.  They must return to Derry and face the horror of “it” once and for all!

Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, It (sometimes known as Stephen King’s It) is a made-for-TV horror mini-series.  The film was based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel.  The mini-series aired on ABC in two parts on November 18, 1990 and November 20, 1990.  It received strong ratings and since its released garnered a large fan base.  The movie won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore) and a nomination for Outstanding Editing for a Miniseries or Special—Single Camera Production.

it children cast photo album

Reading is dangerous

It was always a fun novel simply because of the title.  I read It, I liked It, It was good…the jokes went on forever.  It was also one of King’s better and more developed (plus creepier) stories.  I can remember It being announced for TV and already being afraid that It wouldn’t be scary enough…I was half right.

It is a movie and story divided.  Both the movie and story suffer from a problem.  The kids’ dealing with a beast (who takes the form of a scary-as-hell clown) is far more compelling than the screwed up yuppies that have to take it on later in life.  I read It as a kid and always identified more with the kids’ portion of the story than the adults…and still have that issue to this day.

The adult portion of the movie just doesn’t have as much terror despite little change in the horror.  Pennywise was scary because they were children and though he can still produce fear in them, I never saw him as much of a threat once they were adults.  This compounded by the fact that the evil “final” creature is a lame stop-motion spider that is so non-scary that it is laughable (it can be beat up).

it pennywise the clown teeth eyes tim curry

It likes to smile and bring joy!

The cast is primarily made up of stars of the ’80s.  Most of the child actors didn’t amount to much but Jonathan Brandis (the star and younger version of The Waltons’ Richard Thomas) became a teen heartthrob soon after this film.  Seth Green also had a starring role as the young Richie Tozier who grows up into Night Court’s Harry Anderson (and one of the more annoying adults).  John Ritter is good as the fat kid turned thin and Annette O’Toole plays the older Beverly with some heart.  The other major player that is not part of the “Lucky Seven” Olivia Hussey who plays the wife of Richard Thomas and one of the only adults who can see Pennywise (which is somewhat unexplained).

The scene stealer of course is Tim Curry who eats up all his scenes as Pennywise the Clown.  If you see It for anything, see it for Pennywise (which also makes the first half of the film better since he is more prominent).  Curry has been in a number of bad films, but this isn’t one of them (and he often raises his part of those bad films if nothing else).

it giant spider ending

It all leads up to…this?

The movie does suffer a little from being TV friendly.  Now, I could see it being on a cable network and being darker and dirty.  The story had lots of sex and violence that was toned down for the TV and much of the mini-series seems pretty dated.  Pennywise and some of the imagery involving him still works great.

It springs from the period that it was created.  The movie is dated but for when it was made, it was quite strong.  The story with all the recent TV and film success involving horror was slated for a two part remake.  After an number of false starts, It Part 1 was released in 2017 which focused on the children in the story…a different film for a different time and a different tone (which does not mean it is wrong…or It is wrong).

Related Links:

It (2017)

It:  Chapter Two (2019)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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