it | based on | novel | stephen king | clown | tommy lee wallace | lawrence d. cohen | harry anderson | richard masur | tim curry | drama | mystery | thriller | united states | canada | annette o'toole | john ritter | jonathan brandis | seth green | emily perkins
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen and Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher and Richard Masur
This is an iconic television film that came out in 1990. The first time I saw this was when I started to seek out horror films ones based on Stephen King’s works is when I begin. This was a film that I originally rented from my local video store and accidentally watched out of order. It was broken into two parts with the first half synopsis is seven outcast children band together to destroy a shape shifting clown killing children in their town. The second part is thirty years later, the losers club must return to Derry when Pennywise returns, facing it one last time.
I really like how this film introduces the story to us. We get a scene of a young girl with her interaction with Pennywise (Tim Curry). She is killed by the clown, but we don’t get to see it, just the aftermath. The local librarian, Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid), asks some questions about what happened and he is run off. Before he leaves he finds a picture of a boy that died thirty years before. He starts to reach out to his group of friends where we get the flashbacks of their first interactions with Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
The second part is them actually returning to Derry to decide what they are going to do. We get to learn more about the characters and get Pennywise trying to convince them to flee before it is too late. He tells them they are too old and they must decide if they can find the courage they had as children and defeated him. Or will the fear be too much?
Their leader is Bill Denbrough and as a boy he is Jonathan Brandis. He has a stuttering problem. The picture of the little boy found is the picture of his brother Georgie. He does grow up to be Richard Thomas who is a famous author. He currently is in England with his wife, an actress Audra (Olivia Hussey). Him leaving doesn’t sit well with her and she chases after him without him knowing. This actually complicates the situation a lot.
Ben Hanscom (Brandon Crane) moves to the town as the school year ends. He is the heavy-set kid who is constantly picked on by Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard). Ben doesn’t want to live with his family who treats them poorly and misses his dead father. He grows up to be John Ritter, who lost all the weight and is a successful architect.
There is also Eddie Kaspbrak (Adam Faraizl) who is a sickly boy. His mother treats him this way and it develops into him being a hypochondriac. He still lives with her as an adult where he is portrayed by Dennis Christopher.
The Jewish kid Stanley Uris (Ben Heller) is also a boy scout. He has the hardest trouble believing in all of this and they do what they can to make him see that they need him. He grows up to be Richard Masur. He has an interesting reaction when he is reached out to. His best friend is Richie Tozier (Seth Green). He is a comedian of the group and has an affinity for horror films. He grows to be Harry Anderson, who is quite apprehensive about continuing with their promise.
The girl of the group is Beverly Marsh (Emily Perkins) who has a controlling father. She ends up with a man just like him as an adult, Annette O’Toole. The final member is the black kid, Mike (Marlon Taylor). He stays in town as the librarian.
What I really like about this film is that all the children actors have such electricity together. The first part is great. Seeing them as adults and dealing with remembering what happens to them got me hooked even after seeing this couple of times. The problem with the story is the second half where it doesn’t have that same feeling. I think part of that comes from the ending battle is anticlimactic. Even leading up to the ending loses momentum.
The editing of this film is great though. That first part as we learn about each character is great. The editing of the second part is straight forward. There are some mixing in of scenes as they as teens still to show that everything is coming full circle as they try to end what they did all those years ago. I didn’t have a lot of issues with the editing at all.
Their acting is something that is also very strong. I thought all of the children actors were great. It was fun to see them portraying characters from an era gone by and I felt that it was quite believable. They all seem like a bunch of friends. I did find it interesting that the adult actors were all good, but they never seem to come together like the children did. I think is partly what hurts the second half of the film for me. I couldn’t get through this without talking about Tim Curry and his role as Pennywise. Upon this viewing I see some parts where he is losing his patience with children. It doesn’t happen a lot, but there are tiny glimpses of it and I thought it adds depth to the character. He plays this role amazing. I also thought the rest of the cast round out the film well with what they needed.
Something that has problems is the effects of this film. There’s not a lot of blood and when we do see it, it is not coming from someone but from sink drains or balloons. I thought this look good. The blood has such a thick consistency. The final form of Pennywise was bad though. I had heard others say this and I hadn’t seen this film in awhile. After this rewatch, I’m with them. It is interesting the route they took. He didn’t take this form in the first part and I think they should have kept with the idea that seemed to be established there.
The score of the film was fine for what they needed. It doesn’t stand out as one I’ll come back and revisit a lot, but it definitely fits the scenes for what they needed. It helps to build tension.
Now with that said, I would recommend giving this film a viewing. It has such a deep and complex story and I thought this film does well at fleshing this out as best as it can from the novel. I thought the concept of friends who are outcasts banding together was good. The concept of Pennywise was amazing and Curry brings it to life. The first half story was much stronger than the latter though. I thought the editing throughout was good. The acting was solid as well across the board. The effects of the final form of the monster were disappointing unfortunately. The rest were good. The score of the film also fit for what they needed it to do. I would say that the first half was really good with the second half being above average. Overall this is a good movie for me.
My Rating: 8 out of 10