It (1990 film)

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IT, in the form of Pennywise the Clown, from It (1990 film)...
IT, in the form of Pennywise the Clown, from It (2017 film)...

It AKA Stephen King's It, (1990 and a two-part remake in 2017 & 2019)

Summary

"The Master of Horror unleashes everything you were ever afraid of." In 1960, seven pre-teen outcasts fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite to stop the demon once and for all when it returns to their hometown.

Details

  • Release Date: 1990, (remake in 2017)
  • Country/Language: US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror
  • Setting: Derry, Maine USA, 1950s and 1980s (two-part remake 1980s and Modern)
  • Runtime: 3 hr 12 min
  • Starring: Tim Curry, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Annette O'Toole
  • Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
  • Writer: Stephen King (story), Lawrence D. Cohen and Tommy Lee Wallace (teleplay)
  • Producer/Production Co: Green/Epstein Productions, Konigsberg/Sanitsky Company, Lorimar Television
  • View Trailer: (link), (remake)
  • TVTropes: (1990), (2017)
  • IMDB Page: (1990), (2017), (2019)

Ratings

MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: TV-14 (Violence, Profanity, Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; vaguely similar in tone, could be a very loose adaptation)

The 1990 original is a flawed Stephen King take on "Lovecraftian" horror, in which the Pennywise-thing is confusingly revealed at the end of the miniseries to be (spoiler) an eldritch abomination, a revelation that (in true Lovecraftian tradition) did not translate well from the book to film.

The 2017 remake covers only the first half of the story (and arguably the better part of the 1990 miniseries), and does a generally better job of maintaining the intended mood, and foreshadowing the cosmic horror that will appear in the inevitable sequel.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.

Reviews

Review Links, 1990 film:

  • Jonathan Barkan at Bloody Disgusting, (link) - "The first half of the film deals primarily with... the children, introducing them one at a time and focusing on their connection to Pennywise. This is definitely the stronger half as the child actors are damn good and there is a lot of exciting events going on throughout the runtime. When Pennywise isn’t scaring everyone half to death, there are the perils of simply being a child: overprotective or abusive parents, bullies, and small town life where racism is alive and well... as well as the townsfolk seemingly doing their best to ignore the rash of child deaths.... Still, it must be said that the first half also feels terribly disjointed ...the second half is more problematic because the film loses its flow and rhythm ...the climax of the film looks atrocious.... It just feels lazy, especially considering the amazing potential that was there throughout the story.... It was a major event in its day, but that time has come and gone.... I look at It and see potential for something greater."
  • Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3.5/5 Stars) (link) - "... Tim Curry provides Pennywise with his own life in ways that King never intended. His performance gives the figure a sinister and demoniacal nature that quite unsettles. ... One of the best handled aspects of the mini-series is the constant vying between illusory terrors and reality. ... The climactic payoff is let down by the weak stop-motion animated creature that represents the natural form of It, otherwise the show remains uncommonly effective."

Review Links, 2017 film:

  • Richard Scheib at the Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Film Review (2/5 Stars) (link) - "For all the disparaging of the mini-series, I would venture as far as to say that I think the 1990 mini-series is a far better work than the film version...."


Synopsis (SPOILERS)

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, "It", a glowing, spider-like monster which has the ability to transform itself into its prey's worst fears, allowing it to exploit the phobias of its victims, and mostly taking 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 in the 1950s, and the second when they're called back 30 years later as middle-aged adults in the 1980s to defeat Pennywise, who has resurfaced.


Notes

Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements

  • fiction: Stephen King's novel It (1986)
  • deity: It, and its avatars, including...
    • Pennywise the Dancing Clown
    • Vampire
    • Werewolf
    • Mummy
    • Leper Hobo
  • race: Human Cultists, generally in the form of innocent townsfolk who unconsciously cooperate with the manipulations of It to cover up and forget Its horrors (a couple of the more violent and insane townsfolk cooperate more consciously with It, hearing Its voice in their heads, making promises and threats to them)
  • location: "The Dead Lights", a location outside of and bordering on the physical world where It actually seems to exist
  • organization: "The Loser's Club", a group of kid (later adult) "investigators" who alone stand up to It


Keeper Notes