It (1990 film)

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For the 1927 silent movie, see It (1927 film).
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
Distributed by Warner Bros. Television
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Produced by Mark Basino
Allen S. Epstein
Jim Green
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen
Tommy Lee Wallace
Based on It by Stephen King
Narrated by Tim Reid
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
Music by Richard Bellis
Cinematography Richard Leiterman
Editing by David Blangsted
Robert F. Shugrue
Production company Lorimar Productions
DawnField Entertainment
The Konigsberg & Sanitsky Company
Greeb & Epstein Productions
Country United States
Canada
Language English
Original channel ABC
Original run November 18, 1990  – November 20, 1990
Running time 178 minutes
No. of episodes 2

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 movie 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 Emmy Award for his music score.

Plot[edit]

Part I (1960)[edit]

Set in the town of Derry, Maine in the year 1960, six-year old Georgie Denbrough is lured to a storm drain when his paper boat drops down into it. When attempting to retrieve it, he encounters a strange man dressed in a clown costume who calls himself "Pennywise the Dancing Clown." The man tempts Georgie closer with promises of cotton candy and balloons, exclaiming that "they all float down" into the sewer. He says that Georgie can "float" too before revealing his true nature, grabbing him and viciously tearing his right arm off. His older brother, Bill, is overwhelmed with guilt for inadvertently sending Georgie to his death and is terrified when his picture comes to life and bleeds.

Bill later befriends several similar "misfits." One is Ben Hanscom, a loyal, determined, overweight and ingenious builder from a broken home after the death of his military father. He is terrorized by visions of both Pennywise and the ghost of his father trying to goad him into the sewer plant. Another is Eddie Kaspbrak, a hypochondriac, asthmatic boy who is frail and shy and lives with his overprotective mother. Kaspbrak is taunted and harassed by Pennywise (who shows a strong dislike towards him for being "girly") while attempting to shower at school.

The group later includes Beverly Marsh, a tomboy with an abusive alcoholic father and a dead eye with a slingshot. She believes Bill's stories when her bathroom is destroyed by a geyser of blood (courtesy of Pennywise) that he helps clean up before her father gets home. Richie Tozier is a comedic red head who isn't afraid to stand up to the school bully, Henry Bowers, and his friends. He is a movie buff, which prompts Pennywise to scare him in the form of a werewolf. Stan Uris, a Jewish boy scout and bird watcher, is the next to have a near-death experience after being trapped by a mummy in an abandoned house. Mike Hanlon, an African American student facing a difficult time as a new student and resident of Derry, often finds himself in the crosshairs of the racist Henry Bowers as well. Mike is cornered by Henry and his gang of friends, Victor Criss, Belch Huggins, Peter Gordon, and Moose Sadler, who intend to kill him by lighting a firecracker in his pocket, but Mike escapes from their clutches when a worker catches Henry attempting to light the firework, prompting Henry and his friends to give chase. Mike reaches Bill's group at a construction site where Henry and his gang strenuously demand they give Mike to them so that they can kill him, but Henry recognizes the other six kids he knew before, and callously taunts them, calling them the "Losers Club" which escalates into a rock fight. The Losers Club wins the fight against the cold-blooded bullies, who then retreat. Mike is last to see Pennywise when his photography book comes to life showing him and the others Pennywise's history as he threatens the group. Though they initially question if Pennywise is simply a deranged man masquerading as a clown, the kids come to the realization that Pennywise is not human at all, so they label him "It."

As each of them face their greatest fears (as well as Henry Bowers's harassment), they vow to avenge the deaths of Georgie and every other child killed by "It." They reason that since Pennywise feeds off of the imagination of its victims that it may likewise be vulnerable to the weaknesses of the forms it assumes. Beverly trains with a slingshot using silver slugs made from a pair of earrings. The Losers travel into the sewers followed by Henry and two of his friends, Victor and Belch, now determined to kill them because of the rock fight the month before. They enter in the main sewer hall and discover Stan is missing, as he had been pulled by Henry and Belch. Henry orders Victor to create an ambush on the remaining Losers, but he gets killed by It. Meanwhile, just when Henry is about to kill Stan, a mysterious light bursts through a sewage pipe and both Stan and Henry watch in horror as Belch is dragged through the pipe and eaten. When the light returns, Stan escapes while Henry stands transfixed turning his hair white. "It" spares Henry's life and continues searching for Stan.

Stan reunites with the others and tells them the "deadlights" are far worse than Pennywise, and they all agree not to stare into the lights. Pennywise catches up to them and grabs Stan. Just as Pennywise is about to eat Stan, Eddie melts half of Pennywise's face by spraying him with his inhaler which he imagines to be filled with battery acid (after Richie joked that it tasted like the substance) and Beverly cracks open the monster's head with her slingshot, revealing the deadlights. Before she could attack again, Pennywise somersaults in the air and vanishes into a drain in the ground. Before he is completely gone, Bill pulls on Pennywise's hand and the glove slips off, revealing a hideous three-fingered claw; It then disappears in the drain bellowing in agony. With their job done, the seven vow to return some day if ever It returns. Meanwhile, Henry escapes the sewers, is arrested and sentenced to life in an asylum for confessing to the murder of all the children and his gang of friends.

Part II (1990)[edit]

Mike had become the only member of the Losers Club to remain in Derry after the events of the early 1960s. His memory of the events are still completely intact, and when he hears of the mysterious, unexplained death of a little girl who is murdered in her back garden (shown in the prologue of Part I), he begins to suspect It has returned. He calls up each of his friends, who have all become successful in their own right. Bill has become a horror novel writer married to a beautiful actress named Audra; Ben has become a famous architect as he'd always wanted; Beverly has become a fashion designer who has left her abusive husband; and Richie has become a late night TV comedian. Eddie owns a successful limousine service and Stan has become a real estate broker. Having moved on into comfortable lives and having barely a glimmer of the memories of that summer, they are all traumatized by the memories awakened by Mike's phone calls. While they agreed to return as promised, Stan is unable to cope with the fear and kills himself, writing the word "IT" on the bathroom wall with his blood.

Upon the return to Derry, their reunion is lighthearted until terrifying events unfold that test their resolve. Beverly encounters a kindly old woman in her old home who tells her that her father is gone, but the woman is more than she appears. Pennywise locates Bill at the cemetery where he is paying a visit to Georgie's grave. There, the clown taunts Bill but the latter makes it known that he remembers him and does not fear him anymore. Pennywise later finds Eddie at the local pharmacy and proceeds to taunt him. Ben sees the skeleton of his father, which is still trying to get him to return to the sewers. Richie encounters Pennywise at the library, who attempts to drive him crazy by creating a rather grotesque illusion of blood-filled balloons before his very eyes (which Pennywise seems to find highly amusing); later, the group's reunion dinner comes to life. Pennywise, unable to kill them because his influence over them as adults is limited, pretends to be Belch's ghost and sends Henry to do the job (after killing the asylum night guard). Henry manages to attack Mike and wound him, which forces Bill and others to consider another direct confrontation with the clown. Eddie and Ben manage to kill Henry in a struggle.

With Henry dead, It is prompted with the task of killing the Losers on its own. Meanwhile, Audra follows Bill to Derry but falls under the influence of It's deadlights and is made catatonic. As the five remaining "Losers" find their way to It's cave, they are greeted by a ghostly image of Pennywise and this time he reveals his truest physical form that the human mind can comprehend: a massive, hideous spider-like creature. In the midst of the battle, Eddie is mortally wounded when he steps forward to save Ben, Richie, and Bill's lives. Once again, Beverly is able to use her slingshot on the creature; this time, the strike rings true and mortally wounds It. Ben, Beverly, Richie and Bill comfort the wounded Eddie, who dies in his friends' arms. In their rage, Ben, Richie, Bill and Beverly slaughter and dismember It, killing the monster for good. They are able to leave, taking Eddie's body and the catatonic Audra with them. They later bury Eddie in the Derry Cemetery.

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 memory of the traumatic events fades 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 of 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. On September 21, 2010, film director Guillermo Del Toro announced that he would like to direct new adaptations of the Stephen King novels It and Pet Sematary but stated that he is very busy with a number of other projects and he would be unable to make them any time soon. On June 7, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the novel would be adapted into a two-part film, directed by Cary Fukunaga with Chase Palmer as screenwriter; Jon Silk, David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith as producers and John Powers Middleton as executive producer. The cast has not been announced yet.

References[edit]

External links[edit]