Nov 4, 2010

[TV] Stephen King's It (1990)

Stephen King's It (1990)The fear of clowns is a rather odd quick of our society. Popular culture loves to tap into this dark little side of our nightmares - how such characters meant to make people laugh and be amused in one way or another eventually turned into such dark and scary things is a tad odd. But the fear is there and it's definitely hard to get over for some people. There's just something freakishly disturbing about the sight of a clown for some people.

Naturally the horror genre has taken full advantage of this fact. From evil Jack-in-the-boxes like in Demonic Toys, Clown in Spawn and of course Batman's Joker. Horror writers for various forms of media have tapped into this part of our shared history and made clowns even more menacing and evil than ever before.

When Stephen King first tackled this childhood image in the 1986 novel that this movie was based upon, it certainly struck a chord with many readers. Many call King one of the true masters of horror in our generation, and I'll always feel this book in particular makes for an excellent example of his unique creative skills and abilities. And the TV series that was eventually made based on this book was the stuff of nightmares for me as a child for many years.

Stephen King's It originally aired in 1990 as a two-part TV mini-series. It was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.

"Derry Welcomes You" sign from the 1...Image via WikipediaIn the fictional town of Derry, Maine. A little girl named Laurie Ann (Chelan Simmons) hears the sound of children laughing outside and is drawn to a clown that appears to be standing in their garden, beckoning her to come. Eventually she disappears with and later on her mother finds her dead in the backyard. Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid) eventually hears of this mysterious death and he realizes that the killer from his childhood is back and only he and his six friends - Bill (Richard Thomas), Beverly (Annette O'Toole), Richie (Harry Anderson), Eddie (Dennis Christopher), Ben (John Ritter) and Stan (Richard Masur) - may stand a chance of dealing with it.

As children, they were known as the "Losers Club". One by one they each had their own encounter with a figure they'd all come to know as "It" and eventually as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (Tim Curry). They seven figure out that It had probably killed Bill's younger brother. Georgie (Tony Dakota) and they swore a pact that they would take their revenge by killing the monster. Thus the movie continues by telling the tale of their previous encounter It while contrasting it with their modern day attempts to face their childhood fears and put an end to this horror once and for all.

Tim Curry is absolutely brilliant as Pennywise, and this just speaks to his considerable range as an actor. Sure, he's more than just a sweet transvestite in fishnet stockings or the butler who probably did it. He's just really, really good at acting in a creepy and disturbing way. And who could have predicted how creepy he'd look like in full clown regalia?

This movie scared the heck of out me, and I admit that probably had a lot to do with the fact that I first watched this as a kid. There lies some of the brilliance of this story - watching kids face off with this monster has us all thinking of our own childhoods and whether or not we could have possibly dealt with a supernatural horror like It. I doubt many of us could immediately say that they could manage such a thing at any age, what more as children.

The actors involved in the movie certainly gave it a rather TV-production feel to things, which is both a good and a bad thing. Sure made-for-TV movies had much smaller budgets to work with in those days and you can only hire talent of a certain quality. The adult actors who represented the Seven were generally decent enough, but never really struck me all that significantly. The children however were pretty awesome and major credits need to go to them for carrying so much of the movie on their own.

Stephen King's It is still a wonderfully scary movie to watch and I doubt any remake can truly do justice to what they accomplish with this TV mini-series. It gets 3.5 deadlight beams out of
a possible 5.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment