Stephen King (novel)
Lawrence D. Cohen and Tommy Lee Wallace (teleplay)
Tommy Lee Wallace
Harry Anderson as Richard 'Richie/Trashmouth' Tozier
Dennis Christopher as Eddie Kaspbrak
Richard Masur as Stanley 'Stan' Uris
Annette O'Toole as Beverly 'Bev/Bevvie' Marsh
Tim Reid as Michael 'Mike/Mikey' Hanlon
John Ritter as Ben 'Haystack' Hanscom
Richard Thomas as William 'Stuttering Bill' Denbrough
Tim Curry as Robert 'Bob' Gray/Pennywise the Dancing Clown/It
A really great horror movie leaves a lasting impression on a person. Jaws, for example, still makes me wary of going in the water (even a pool!), and The Blair Witch Project comes to mind every time someone mentions “camping”. Out of all the great horror movies, though, Stephen Kings It in particular has left a lasting mark on me.
A little back-story: I remember when I was about six years old and my brothers and I were put to bed as usual. As my mother was tucking us in she made a HUGE mistake and warned us not to get out of bed whatever we did because she was watching a movie that she didn’t want us to see. Of course that just made me want to sneak out of bed.
I waited a while and snuck into the living room. Hiding behind the couch where she couldn’t see me I tried to see what the big taboo on TV was. It must have been about a minute later that I was completely horrified by what I saw and ran out of the room screaming.
For years after that I was horrified of clowns, dark places and…… the bathroom! I couldn’t even bring myself to watch It all the way through until I was fourteen, and then I loved it!
The movie Stephen Kings It, which was originally a TV movie released in as a mini-series in 1990, is actually quite subdued by most horror standards. The violence is minimal, and there is little blood, yet tons of scares. It is also quite long (192min!) but keeps your attention, especially the first half.
Stephen Kings It begins when a little girl, while in her yard in the sleepy, rainy town of Derry, Maine, is murdered by a mysterious clown called “Pennywise” who appears literally out of nowhere.
Later, while at the crime scene, the librarian Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid) notices something weird…a picture of his childhood friend’s little brother who was murdered in 1960. Mike immediately calls all of his old friends and tells them the news: “HE’s back”.
From this point the movie jumps between each character’s current life and flashbacks of their own personal childhood encounters with the violent, tormenting spirit Pennywise the Clown (Tim Curry in possibly his best role). The clown spirit uses children’s greatest fears against them by bringing them to reality. Mike convinces each member of the “old gang”(which includes John Ritter, Harry Anderson and Annette O’Toole) to agree reluctantly to come back to Derry to fight Pennywise…except for one. Stan Uris (Richard Masur) decides he would rather end his own lifethan go back to Derry and have to face the demons of his past, leaving the group of friends minus one vital member.
Once back in Derry the gang confirms that Pennywise the clown is indeed up to his old tricks again, and chaos abounds – complete with hallucinations, attacks and near deaths. The group must find out what Pennywise really is, and destroy “It”.
I will admit that while Stephen Kings It is fantastic, the ending is a bit of a letdown. We know that Pennywise is not human from the beginning, but we are not quite sure exactly what he actually is until the end of the movie, and even then it is very confusing no matter how many times you watch It. The history of Pennywise and of Derry itself, when revealed, is truly frightening though. Tim Curry, as the clown Pennywise, is also very frightening and believable in this role of a lifetime.
While not acceptable for all ages, I highly recommend Stephen Kings It, especially if want a good horror movie to watch on a rainy afternoon or night. Or for an even bigger scare, read the book on a rainy afternoon or night, because although the movie is scary, the book will keep you up at night.