It (stylized as IT), also known as Stephen King's It, is a 1990 American-Canadian supernatural horror drama miniseries directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen from the Stephen King novel of the same name. It aired on ABC over two nights on November 18 and 20, 1990, and was a major success for the network, attracting 30 million viewers in its premiere. For his work on the miniseries, Richard Bellis received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore).
Part 1 (Prologue-1960)
The film begins in Derry, Maine, in 1990, where a little happily singing girl named Laurie Anne Winterbarger rides on her tricycle down the street. She sees a strange clown with red hair and nose, and gets murdered (off-screen) by him. African-American town librarian Mike Hanlon is investigating the string of missing children and killings as he arrives to the crime scene of the little girl's murder. Finding a picture of Georgie, the deceased younger brother of one of his good friends Bill Denbrough, convinces Mike that "It" is back as he proceeds to connect the others to fulfil their vow. Bill is a horror novelist who lives in England and is married to British actress Audra Phillips. Bill then starts to have a flashback when he was young.
We flash forward to 1960, where a younger Bill gives Georgie a paper sailboat to take the boat out onto the street to sail in the gutter. But Georgie is unable to stop it from sailing down the storm drain, peering in to see the clown who introduces himself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise then entices Georgie to reach into the drain to retrieve his boat, killing the boy while ripping his arm off. The scene cuts to Georgie's funeral. In Georgie's old bedroom, Bill looks at Georgie's photo album where he finds a picture of Georgie. The photo suddenly winks at him, causing Bill to throw it. The book begins to drain blood, and Bill screams in terror. His parents arrive, but they don't seem to notice the blood, so they simply put the album back on the shelf. His father demands him that he should not enter Georgie's room again. Back in the present, Bill agrees to leave and go back to his hometown. He leaves, upsetting Audra.
Months later, during the spring semester at their school, Bill befriends the overweight and nerdy new kid Ben Hanscom, asthmatic Eddie Kaspbrak who lives with his overbearing mother, Beverly Marsh who lives with her abusive father, comical Richie Tozier, Jewish Boy Scout, and Stanley Uris. Besides been tormented by a gang of local bullies led by Henry Bowers, the group each had disturbing encounters with Pennywise. During one afternoon after school, Bill and his friends encounter outcast Mike Hanlon being pursued by Henry's gang. They chase the bullies off with rocks and befriend Mike, Henry vowing to kill them all. The group, calling themselves "The Losers Club", come to realize that they are each being terrorized by the same entity. Noticing that "It" assumes the appearance of what they fear, they deduce Pennywise is a monster that surfaces every 27 years in Derry to feed on the children of Derry before returning to hibernation again.
The Losers decide to venture into the sewers under Derry to kill It, followed by Henry and his friends, Victor Criss and Belch Huggins, intent of killing them. But It kills Victor, who had separated to set an ambush on the Losers, and Belch, who helps Henry separate Stan from the others, sparing a horrified Henry while chasing Stan as he regroups with the Losers. But Pennywise grabs Stan, only for the Loses to use It's ability to access their imaginations against him when Eddie uses his aspirator to melt the clown's face while Beverly smashes a hole in the clown's head using one of the two silver projectiles. Pennywise evades the second and escapes down a drain, seemingly dying as the Losers assumed. But Bill makes the others promise to return and kill It should the creature resurface 27 years later. Henry, his hair whitened while having lost his mind from seeing It's Deadlights, later emerged from the sewers and is institutionalized when he takes credit for murdering It's victims.
30 years later in 1990, Beverly is now a fashion designer abused by her lover Tom Rogan, Richie is a late night TV comedian, Eddie runs a limousine service but still lives with his mother, and Stan is a real estate broker. Prior to Mike's phone calls, the other Losers had completely forgotten each other along with their childhood traumas and memories of It. While the other five reluctantly agree to come, Stan's wife Patti sees that a fear-stricken Stan slit his wrist in his bathtub and wrote "IT" on the wall in his own blood. She cries in agony.
The remaining six find themselves harassed by Pennywise once reaching Derry as they eventually meet at dinner, learning of Stan's suicide shortly after while Mike reminds them of what It is. Two other people also converging on the town: an older Henry who Pennywise freed to kill the Losers, and a worried Audra who ends up being abducted by It while exposed to the creature's Deadlights. Mike is hospitalized by Henry before he is killed by his own knife during a scuffle with the other Losers. After Mike gives Bill the two pieces of silver he retrieved from the sewers, the five remaining Losers decide to destroy It for good. They descend into the sewers once again, Bill learning Audra is being held while overcoming Its attempt to induce further guilt. The Losers eventually reach Its inner sanctum, finding both a catatonic Audra and It's true form as a giant spider. Bill, Ben, and Richie nearly got lost in Its deadlights when Eddie is killed attempting to save his friends as Beverly mortally wounds It with her slingshot. It limps away, but the surviving Losers pursue and knock the creature down and while ripping its heart out. They remove the comatose Audra and Eddie's body from the sewers, burying him in Derry's cemetery.
With It finally dead, the Losers go their separate ways and move on with their lives as their memories of It fade away. A recovered Mike's memories also begin to fade as considers starting a new life elsewhere. Richie is cast in a film with an actor resembling Eddie while Beverly and Ben got married and are expecting their first child. Bill is the last to leave Derry, using his last hour in town to coax Audra of her catatonia on his childhood bicycle Silver.
Why It Rocks
- Tim Curry does a great job as Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
- Speaking of Pennywise, he is not only very scary, he is also pretty hilarious.
- The child actors really did a excellent job, just like the late Jonathan Brandis, Emily Perkins and even Seth Green.
- Follows faithfully to the source material.
- Very intense and scary moments. For example, the picture frame of Georgie is moving and the book is bleeding blood.
- Likable and kindful characters, except for the others, especially some of the bullies and the grown ups.
- Funny lines, including Pennywise taunting at the heroes. The quote is found in the infobox.
- Iconic theme. Listen here.
- The adult actors were slightly terrible or okay at the same time.
- Overuse of flash-backs.
- The special effects are very cheap, including the stop-motion.
As of September 2017, the film has a 57% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 14 reviews.
Matt Roush of USA Today gave the series a positive review, writing: "If Twin Peaks is a midnight movie for prime-time live, It is the miniseries equivalent of those Saturday matinee shockers that merrily warped a generation before Freddie and Jason began stalking their more graphic turf... Accept It on its own popcorn-munching terms, and keep the lights on high." Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly praised the performances in the film, but had a negative response to its special effects and pacing, noting: "It features a high level of ensemble acting rare for any horror film... in addition to It's slow pace, I found the ending a big letdown—unimaginative special effects animate the monster in its final incarnation. But the cast is terrific, Curry's cackle is chilling, and King's usual buried theme—about the pain adults inflict on children without even realizing it (It?)—is always worth pondering." The Hollywood Reporter called It "one big kicky ride thanks to the charismatic acting of Curry as savage, sneering malevolence."
Sandra Harris of Movie Pilot gave the film a positive review, noting: "There’s some gorgeous scenery too and a nice interweaving of flashbacks with the regular scenes. For Stephen King fans, this film is a must for your collection. For fans of horror in general, I’d say you could do a lot worse. Take the phone off the hook and burrow under the duvet for three hours with the popcorn and the remote control." Ian Jane of DVD Talk highlighted the miniseries' combination of childhood nostalgia with horror elements and praised Curry's performance as Pennywise. Bloody Disgusting's John Campopiano commended director Tommy Lee Wallace for "relying less on jump scares and more on creating an unsettling atmosphere to contrast against the kids and their stories." In 2017, Rolling Stone writer Sean T. Collins called the miniseries "legendary" and commented that it had become a cult classic. He said although the miniseries "largely bungles Pennywise's powers", Curry's portrayal of Pennywise is "the stuff sleepless nights are made of. He gloats, he giggles, he taunts, he devours the scenery like the monster himself devours middle-schoolers – and he generally sears his way right into the brain of the viewer."
Stephen King commented on the miniseries in a 2015 interview, and was appreciative of it: "You have to remember, my expectations were in the basement. Here was a book that sprawled over 1,000 pages, and they were going to cram it into four hours, with commercials. But the series really surprised me by how good it was. It’s a really ambitious adaptation of a really long book."