It (1990 film)

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Stephen King's It
A clown rips through a white background, with its monster claws, and a crazed smile. At the bottom, there are small photographs of the film's main characters (Richie, Eddie, Stan, Beverly, Mike, Ben & Bill).
Artwork for the VHS and DVD release
Based on It
by Stephen King
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen
Tommy Lee Wallace
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring Harry Anderson
Dennis Christopher
Richard Masur
Annette O'Toole
Tim Reid
John Ritter
Richard Thomas
Jonathan Brandis
Marlon Taylor
Seth Green
Adam Faraizl
Emily Perkins
Brandon Crane
Ben Heller
Tim Curry
Narrated by Tim Reid
Theme music composer Richard Bellis
Country of origin United States
Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2
Production
Producer(s) Mark Basino
Allen S. Epstein
Jim Green
Editor(s) David Blangsted
Robert F. Shugrue
Cinematography Richard Leiterman
Running time 179 minutes
Production company(s) Lorimar Productions
DawnField Entertainment
The Konigsberg & Sanitsky Company
Greeb & Epstein Productions
Distributor Warner Bros. Television
Release
Original channel ABC
Original release November 18, 1990 – November 20, 1990

It (also referred to as Stephen King's It) is a 1990 psychological horror/drama miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, which has the ability to transform itself into its prey's worst fears, allowing it to exploit the phobias of its victims. It mostly takes the form of a sadistic, wisecracking clown called Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The protagonists are The Losers Club, a group of outcast kids who discover Pennywise and vow to destroy him by any means necessary. The series takes place over two different time periods, the first when the Losers first discover Pennywise as children, and the second when they're called back as adults to defeat Pennywise, who has resurfaced.

It aired as a two-part television film on November 18 and November 20, 1990 on ABC, and follows the plot of the novel. The miniseries was filmed in New Westminster, British Columbia in mid-1990.[1][2] The film's cast includes Dennis Christopher, Annette O'Toole, John Ritter, Harry Anderson, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Richard Masur, Michael Cole, and Tim Curry as Pennywise.

Since its initial television broadcast on ABC in November 1990, the miniseries has received positive reception, proving to have a large cult following in recent years. Critics praised Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise, the performances of the child actors, and Part 1 for being genuinely scary and very entertaining, but criticizing Part 2 for being too melodramatic and not as interesting or creepy as Part 1. For his work on the miniseries, Richard Bellis received an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore).

Plot[edit]

Part I[edit]

Set in the town of Derry, Maine in the year 1990, a young girl witnesses a strange man dressed in a clown suit, watching her from a close distance. Minutes later, her mother discovers her dead body in their front yard. Mike Hanlon, a local librarian visits the crime scene and finds a picture of a young boy that he knew in his childhood that was murdered. Mike decides to call his group of childhood friends referred to as "the Losers Club" or "Lucky Seven" after this discovery based on a childhood promise they made that if "It" ever came back they would all come back. His first call is to Bill Denbrough, in London, England who is now a successful horror story author married to a beautiful actress. Bill is the older brother of Georgie, who was murdered when they were children and who was in the picture at the crime scene. Mike proclaims that "It's back" and asks Bill if he will come back home as part of their promise. Bill agrees to come home. Once he is off the phone, Bill has a flashback to his childhood and how Georgie was murdered.

In 1960, Bill sends his little brother Georgie out into the rainy afternoon with a paper boat he made as he is too ill to go out. As Georgie is sailing his new boat, the rushing water sweeps his boat into the sewer drain. When Georgie looks in the drain to retrieve the boat, he encounters the same clown from 1990 inside the storm drain. Georgie is at first apprehensive of the clown who introduces himself as "Pennywise the Dancing Clown". After a brief conversation, Georgie tries to leave but Pennywise coaxes him into staying by showing him the boat that previously went into the sewer and promises him that there are rides, and balloons that float in the sewer. As Georgie reaches for the boat, Pennywise's demeanor instantly changes from friendly to vicious as he grabs his arm and extends his razor sharp fangs. It is alluded that Georgie's arm is ripped off and he bleeds to death, although this is all offscreen all that can be heard are Georgie's screams and Pennywise's vicious, animal-like growling.

After Georgie's death, Bill enters his room and begins flipping through a scrapbook that Georgie kept. He then encounters Georgie's school picture (the same one Mike Hanlon would find 30 years later). When the picture comes to life and winks at him, Bill throws the scrapbook across the room. When it lands, the pages start mysteriously flipping and then stop suddenly on the same picture which begins to bleed. As Bill is staring at the scrapbook, it suddenly slams shut, causing Bill to scream. Bill's parents then run into the room. His mother picks up the scrapbook while his father is questioning why Bill is in the room touching Georgie's things. Bill is flabbergasted that his parents do not seem to see the blood that is dripping out of the scrapbook. Back in the present, Bill decides to go to Derry and packs unexpectedly, upsetting his wife Audra in the process because he is not telling her what is going on. He then admits that his brother Georgie was murdered but never told her because he had forgotten. Audra is scared but does not follow Bill right away.

The next call is to New York City where Ben Hanscom, now a successful architect, is at his home. When Ben gets off the phone, his girlfriend is concerned he is going to kill himself. He also promises Mike that he will come back to Derry. Ben then goes to the roof of the new building he is designing and has a flashback to his childhood in Derry. Starting on his first day of school, he meets and becomes infatuated with Beverly Marsh, the school janitor's daughter. During his first day, he has an encounter with the school bully, Henry Bowers, causing Henry to be in detention. When Henry leaves to go to the office to serve his after school detention, he threatens Ben that he is "going to get [him] for this." As Ben is walking home from school, Henry and his two cronies, Belch and Vic, grab him. Henry tells Ben he wants Ben to remember him, all while Vic and Belch hold Ben. Despite Ben's claims that he will remember Henry and his name, Henry asks how he can make sure of this. Henry then pulls out a switchblade and acts as though he is going to carve his name into Ben's stomach. Ben kicks Henry and falls over a fence down a hill to the Barrens below. As the bullies chase him, he hides in a sewer drain. He hears Henry and his friends talking to two boys who turn out to be Bill and Eddie. After Henry pushes Eddie to the ground, he begins to have an asthma attack. Henry asks them if they have seen Ben run by, to which Bill and Eddie reply no. After Henry and his friends leave, Ben emerges from the drain. Bill asks him if he can stay with Eddie while he goes and fills Eddie's asthma medication. While Bill is gone, Ben and Eddie talk as Eddie's asthma attack subsides. Ben mentions that his father passed away in the Korean War and Eddie says his father passed away due to cancer. Bill returns and they discuss their plans to build a dam in the Barrens. Ben explains how they can do so, but is interrupted by Bill who says that all three of them should do it. Ben then understands he has made new friends.

After Ben's father died in the Korean War, he and his mother moved in with her sister and son. Ben pens a love poem to Beverly but his bratty cousin comes in and steals it and insults Ben for it. Ben retaliates by hitting his cousin, only to have his aunt rush in, break up the fight, and call Ben names. She later tells Ben's mother (her sister) that she will help her because she is Christian and she does not want her sister on welfare. Ben's mom then says he must apologize to his cousin, to which Ben refuses and proclaims he hates it in that town and runs off. He hears his dead father call his name and tell him to come over to him. Ben follows his voice and comes across a sewage treatment plant where he sees his father in full dress uniform telling him to come visit him in the sewer, where his new home is. He tells him they have all sorts of rides, candy and balloons in the sewer. As he is talking his voice slowly changes into that of Pennywise's. Ben stares at his father who suddenly turns into Pennywise, holding balloons. Pennywise disappears in front of Ben's eyes and suddenly a skeleton hand comes out of the water to attempt to grab him.

Mike's third call is to Beverly Marsh at her office in Chicago, IL. Beverly is now a successful designer who is nervous for her first meeting with Japanese investors. Bev's assistant informs her she has a phone call to which Beverly's business parter and lover (Tom) tells her she cannot take the call. When the secretary explains it is a call from Derry, Maine, Bev is intrigued and says she will take it because she has a few minutes to which Tom replies no. She obliges Tom's request. It is revealed and implied that Tom is abusive both physically and mentally. She has a flashback to 1960 as well, where "It" torments her by exploding a balloon in her bathroom sink, covering the entire room, as well as most of Bev's face and nightgown, iin blood that her father doesn't appear to notice when he comes in to check on her. Bill later comes over and relieves Bev's fears that she is losing her mind by seeing and helping her to clean up the blood. She, Ben and Bill discuss their encounters, but Richie laughs it off. Later, they take Eddie home to his worried-sick mother. Bully Henry Bowers tries to make advances on Bev, as he has tormented all of the group, but he is dissuaded by Bill and Ben. Back in the present, Bev stands up to her boyfriend when he objects to her going to Derry and she knocks him out before packing up and finally leaving him. Mike calls Richie next, who has become a popular late night comedy host. In his flashback, he remembers being teased by Henry Bowers one too many times and he accidentally drops a soda on him and his gang during a horror movie. Bowers and his friends chase them out of the theater, but lose them. The next day at school, Henry tries to humiliate Richie after accidentally being bumped into and spilling his lunch all over him, but Richie retaliates by creating a food fight. Richie is sent down into the basement for a mop to clean up the mess he started, but while he is down there, he encounters a wolf man that soon reveals himself as Pennywise. He runs back to the cafeteria, where no one believes his claims of seeing a werewolf. However, in the corner of the lunch room, Bill, Ben, and Bev all look at each other quietly.

Mike calls Eddie, who is the owner of a successful limousine company still living with his mother. In his flashback, Eddie is told by his pharmacist that the inhalers he has needed for his asthma is actually a placebo requested by his mother, resulting in Eddie being a hypochondriac. Eddie angrily tells him that he does not believe it to be a placebo and that he needs the medicine before running out. During gym class, Eddie is confronted by his coach who notices that Eddie does not shower with the other boys after class and orders him to do so. Eddie then enters the showers alone, frightened. After a few minutes, all the shower heads activate around him with the pressure of a fire hose. The shower rods extend out, trapping Eddie in the shower and forcing him to cower in a corner. Pennywise appears in the shower drain and widens it to come through. Laughing at Eddie's insecurities, Pennywise reveals a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, but does not attack him. Back in the present Mike calls Stan, the last member of their Losers club and repeats "It's back." Stan, a successful real estate broker, becomes despondent, telling his wife he needs to take a bath.

Back at the library, Mike has a flashback as well. Remembering when he met the rest of his friends who defended him against the racist Henry Bowers and his friends by hurling rocks at them. They call themselves the "Losers Club" all being outcasts and being the only ones who realize what's going on. Going through Mike's photo album, he shows them an article of Pennywise that everyone recognizes. To Mike's horror, Pennywise comes to life in the book and threatens the seven of them before trying to attack them through the photograph. They realize that "It" must be stopped. After they determine that Bev is the best with a slingshot, they conclude that "It" can be stopped by slingshotting silver at him. They go to the sewage plant Ben was unsuccessfully lured to before, while Henry and his friends, seeking revenge for the rock throwing, follows them intent on killing them. In the sewers, Henry orders his friend Victor to ambush the Losers, but Victor is killed by It. Stan is grabbed by Henry and taken to another tunnel where he is threatened by Henry and his friend Belch before "It", shown purely as its 'deadlights' form bursts from a pipe and kills Belch before dragging him through the pipe. It comes back and frightens Henry so badly that his hair turns white as Stan escapes to rejoin the others. Luckily for Henry, "It" spares his life and continues searching for the Losers. Elsewhere, Stan regroups with the others and they join hands. They dodge "It" in the form of the deadlights, and the Losers catch a glimpse of a turtle shell-like shadow under it. Smoke fills up the room, and the Losers hold hands and form a circle to stick together, but Pennywise manages to break the circle and grabs Stan and pins him to a wall, preparing to eat him. Eddie pretends his inhaler is battery acid, and sprays it in Pennywise's face, who reacts to the placebo. Beverly uses her slingshot, but only wounds Pennywise, who attempts to escape by sinking into the ground. Before Pennywise is almost completely gone, the Losers grab onto the clown's hand to prevent him from escaping. However, the glove comes off, revealing a monstrous three-fingered hand, which then disappears into the ground as well. As they hear the fading sound of Pennywise wailing in agony, the Losers assume that he is dying and propose an pact that if he returns, they will return to Derry and face it again. With little hesitation, everyone swears on it. Back in the present, Stan's wife goes up to check on him and finds him dead; having slashed his wrists in the bathtub and scrawled "IT" on the wall in his blood. Meanwhile, Mike discovers a balloon that somehow appeared in his library which explodes suddenly in his face, terrifying him.

Part II[edit]

Bill is the first to arrive in Derry and sees Pennywise, completely healed from his earlier encounter with the Losers, in a graveyard digging graves for the Losers. The clown laughs and says Bill can choose any grave he wants, except for one that is already filled in (referring to the recently-deceased Stan). He meets with Mike, who shows him his old bike "Silver". He asks Mike if he remembers everything from that summer, while it seems to have faded for him and Mike surmises that it's the same reason the adults don't notice anything; it's part of It's cover that allows it to emerge and feed every 30 years. Elsewhere, Bev has returned to the house she grew up in, and buzzes the Marsh apartment, but is confused when an old woman answers the door, claiming that her father died years before. She is invited in by the old woman who offers her tea. Bev goes into the apartment and while stirring her tea notices it turning into blood. This startles Bev, who then drops her teacup to the floor. As the old woman leans down to get the broken teacup, Bev proclaims, "The door did say Marsh", the old woman states "you are very wise" and looks up. When the old woman looks up she is a zombie-like image of Bev's dead father. This causes Bev to go running out of the house. When she gets to the street, she turns around and Pennywise is on the porch laughing at her. She looks back a second later to discover that Pennywise has vanished, and that everything she just experienced was one of his illusions. The apartment building has been abandoned, and there was no old woman. Ben goes down to the old dam that the kids used to hang out at, and has a flashback of being threatened at knifepoint by Henry Bowers. He goes down to the river and sees the skeleton of his father, who still tells him to come visit him, claiming they "all float" which was what Pennywise had told Georgie about the balloons he was luring him with.

Richie tries to catch up with Mike at the library, but he is goaded by a loud, raucous Pennywise, who sets off dozens of balloons which explode blood into the faces of the patrons who don't realize it, and he tells the librarian that he would meet the party for dinner. Meanwhile, Eddie returns to the pharmacy he went to as a child, and discovers his old pharmacist, now elderly and suffering from dementia who warns him about It, before he leaves clearly disturbed. That night, the six of them meet at a restaurant, where all of their dinners come to life in shocking and frightening ways. They decide to leave their dinner and reconvene at the library, where they learn after calling the Uris residence that Stan had killed himself. Mike opens the library's refrigerator, where dozens of balloons come out, revealing Stan's severed head from inside the refrigerator. Stan's head taunts them, telling them that death is preferable to what they will have to face before his voice becomes like that of Pennywise's. Bill remembers that Stan was the last one to see It in 1960, after escaping an attack from "The Mummy" by reciting all the birds he had memorized. He and Bill then escaped It on Silver, making him realize that it was the only thing that beat the deadlights that day.

In an asylum, where he had been committed to 30 years ago after admitting to killing all the children in Derry, Henry Bowers is convinced by Pennywise and by an undead Belch to escape from his imprisonment and kill the Losers. He attacks Mike at the hotel they are staying at and succeeds in injuring him before he himself is killed by his own knife. After Mike is sent to the hospital, Bill suggests they all confront It for one final confrontation. Meanwhile, Audra arrives in Derry and is frozen in the deadlights when she encounters Pennywise disguised as a gas station attendant. As they make their way into the sewers, Bill, Eddie, Richie, Ben and Bev are stopped by a ghostly image of Pennywise, who gives them one last chance to turn back and leave, warning them that they will go insane in his deadlights. After Pennywise fades away, they are confronted by their fears again before they find It; though not as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, or as the Deadlights, but its physical form, which is a gigantic, hideous spider-like creature, who quickly captures Bill, Ben and Richie in its Deadlights. Bev drops her pellet, and Eddie tries to distract it by spraying it with "battery acid" again, but this time it doesn't work and the spider attacks him, mortally wounding him. This snaps the others out of their trance and Beverly's shot finally rings true, severely injuring It. As Eddie dies, the men and Bev take their revenge on It who tries to escape yet again and they successfully kill it by ripping its heart out. Bill rescues a comatose Audra from captivity, while they carry Eddie out of the cave, burying him in a nearby graveyard.

In the aftermath, Mike marks his own fading memories of the past as a sign that It was truly destroyed that time, and the adult Losers Club can return to their lives as the memories of the traumatic events fade entirely. Richie gets a part in a movie and he partners up with a man who looks and sounds just like Eddie. Beverly and Ben leave Derry together and head west; one week later they are married and just weeks later Beverly is pregnant. Audra, still catatonic from her encounter, is coaxed back to life aboard Bill's old bicycle "Silver" when he takes her to outrun It's fading influence the same way he did when the bike helped Bill while trying to save a young Stan who was frozen with fear: in the end, she returns to life and to Bill. All as it was, they realize that they can now move on with their lives. As the film fades to black, Pennywise's evil laugh is heard one last time.

Cast[edit]

Supporting cast

Broadcast history[edit]

It originally aired on ABC as a two-part television movie in 1990 on the nights of November 18[3] and November 20.[4] Part 1 was the fifth highest rated program on Sunday nights with an 18.5 rating and watched in 17.5 million households.[3] Part 2 was the second highest rated program on Tuesday nights with an 20.6 rating and watched in 19.2 million households.[4]

Subsequent broadcasts were delayed until November 1991 due to an alleged copyright violation brought by the producers of Crazy College, who claimed that Tim Curry's clown make up was directly copied from one of their own characters, 'Petsy McGee'.[5]

In recent years, cable network Spike TV has aired the film as part of its horror programming during the Halloween season.

Reception[edit]

Stephen King's It received generally mixed to positive reviews from critics and television viewers. Tim Curry's performance as "Pennywise" has received universal critical acclaim and praise for capturing the novel's interpretation of the character. The film currently has a 67% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews.[6] The film was also praised for the performances of the child actors. Part 2 has been criticized by many critics and King fans for being too melodramatic, the casting of the adult actors, and being far less engaging than Part 1. Commentators agree that while the film's special effects are dated, Part 1 remains genuinely scary.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS in early 1991 after the film's initial broadcast. The original VHS release had two separate tapes, one with Part 1 and the other with Part 2. A later VHS release (circa 1997-1998) part of the now-defunct "Warner Bros. Hits" line contains the entire film on one tape. All VHS releases of the film are out of print.

The film was released on DVD in 2002 on a double-sided disc with Part One on the front and Part Two on the back. The "To be continued..." and the 1st set of closing credits at the end of Part One and the 2nd set of opening credits at the beginning of Part Two (unlike the VHS release) were removed. The DVD version of It also features an audio commentary by the director and cast members. The film's aspect ratio has been cropped to give it a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.

In 2013, Warner Home Video released a DVD set called "Triple Terror Collection" that contains It as well as two other Stephen King productions: Salem's Lot, and The Shining.

A Blu-ray release has yet to be announced.

Music score[edit]

2-CDs release of complete score by Richard Bellis released November 15, 2011 in two-parts.[7]

Track listing[edit]

Disc 1
  1. "Main Title I" – 1:52
  2. "Enter the Clown" – 3:04
  3. "Georgie Dies" – 4:17
  4. "Ben Gets The News" – 0:51
  5. "Punks" – 2:18
  6. "I Hate It Here" – 1:53
  7. "Bedroom Jazz Source" – 2:24
  8. "The Slap" – 1:45
  9. "Die If You Try" – 4:02
  10. "Richie's Talk Show Play-Off" – 0:34
  11. "The Beast - First Encounter" – 2:05
  12. "Mike Remembers" – 0:58
  13. "Mike Joins the Group" – 5:07
  14. "Pennywise" – 0:39
  15. "Circus Source" – 1:10
  16. "Target Practice" – 2:51
  17. "The Sewer Hole" – 3:13
  18. "Stan Gets Nabbed" – 4:27
  19. "The Fog" – 3:25
  20. "The Pact" – 1:43
  21. "Stan's Suicide" – 0:50
  22. "End Credits I" – 1:00
Disc 2
  1. "Main Title Part II" – 1:51
  2. "The Graves" – 1:48
  3. "Library Balloons" – 2:53
  4. "Ben's Flashback" – 0:35
  5. "Skeleton On the Pond" – 0:40
  6. "Guillory's Muzak" – 1:27
  7. "Hydrox" – 2:49
  8. "Audra" – 1:45
  9. "Fortune Cookie" – 1:54
  10. "Silver Flyer" – 2:22
  11. "Leftover Stan" – 1:52
  12. "Henry and Belch" – 2:20
  13. "Every Thirty Years" – 1:56
  14. "Audra Arrives" – 2:02
  15. "This Time It's For Real" – 4:26
  16. "The Smell of Death" – 1:59
  17. "Something's Coming" – 4:00
  18. "The Spider's Web" – 5:11
  19. "Hi Ho Silver" – 4:33
  20. "End Credits Part II" – 1:00

Remake[edit]

On March 12, 2009, Warner Bros. announced that a remake of Stephen King's novel had started. Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison are set to produce. The screenplay is currently re-written by Dave Kajganich.[citation needed] On June 7, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the novel would be adapted into a two-part film, directed by Cary Fukunaga with David Kajganich and Chase Palmer as screenwriter; Jon Silk, David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith as producers and John Powers Middleton as executive producer.[8] The names and timeline will also be changed hinting that the remake will now take place in the mid-1980s and 2010s as apposed to the late-1950s and mid-1980s like in the novel and early 1960s and 1990s like in the original TV miniseries. The cast has not been announced yet. In March 2015 Cary Fukunaga, confirmed the start of the shooting for June 2015 in the New York area.[9] As of May 2015, Will Poulter was in negotiations to play Pennywise.[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]