It is a 1990 supernatural horror 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 over two nights on November 18 and 20, 1990 on ABC. The miniseries was filmed in New Westminster, British Columbia in mid-1990. 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 and the performances of the child actors. For his work on the miniseries, Richard Bellis received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Miniseries or a Special (Dramatic Underscore).
Plot: (Be Warned Spoilers)
In Derry, Maine, 1960, a young boy named George “Georgie” Denbrough is lured to a storm drain by a strange, yet seemingly kind, man dressed in a clown costume named Pennywise. After a brief conversation, Pennywise reveals his malevolent nature and murders Georgie. Georgie’s older brother Bill is taunted by Pennywise as well. He and six other outcast children, who form a group called the Losers Club, discover they are all being tormented by the ambiguous clown. The rest of the group consists of the overweight but smart Ben Hanscom, asthmatic Eddie Kaspbrak who lives with his overprotective mother, Beverly Marsh who lives with her alcoholic father, comical Richie Tozier, Jewish boy scout Stan Uris, and African-American student Mike Hanlon. In turn, all of them are bullied by the psychotic Henry Bowers and his gang.
The Losers soon theorize that Pennywise is not a human being, he is instead an otherworldly creature that surfaces every thirty years in Derry to murder children and therefore they dub him “It”. To avenge Georgie and others killed by It, the Losers venture into the sewers where the clown lurks. They are followed by Henry and his friends Victor Criss and Belch Huggins, who threaten Stan, only for It to kill Victor and Belch, but spares the terrified Henry, whose hair turns white. It, as Pennywise, catches up to the Losers and grabs Stan, bragging that he is immortal and eats children. Guessing It’s powers are based around imagination, the Losers fight back using the same power, melting Pennywise’s face with imaginary battery acid and Beverly smashes a hole in his head using a silver projectile. Pennywise escapes wounded, and the seven make a promise to return and kill him should It resurface. Henry is arrested and institutionalized when he confesses to murdering his friends and the children It killed.
Thirty years later, in 1990, Pennywise returns and begins murdering children in Derry. Mike, a librarian still living in Derry, summons his six friends back to Derry to fulfil their vow. Bill has become a horror novelist married to actress Audra Phillips, Ben is an architect, Beverly is a fashion designer but in an unhappy relationship, Richie is a late night TV comedian, Eddie runs a limousine service but still lives with his mother, and Stan is a real estate broker. While five of them agree to come, Stan commits suicide in his bath tub and writes “It” on the wall in blood. The remaining six are individually scared by Pennywise, before reuniting for dinner, though Pennywise frightens them there too. They soon learn of Stan’s suicide shortly after.
Elsewhere, an older Henry is visited and befriended by Pennywise who sends him to Derry to kill the Losers. Audra also arrives in town following Bill but falls victim to It’s paralyzing “deadlights” and falls into a catatonic state. Henry wounds Mike, but is killed by his own knife during a scuffle with the other Losers. With Mike hospitalised, the five remaining Losers decide to destroy It for good. They confront It, who now appears as a monstrous spider. Eddie is killed by It, but Beverly mortally wounds It with her slingshot, and the Losers tear the spider apart. They remove the comatose Audra and Eddie’s body from the sewers, burying him in Derry’s cemetery.
The Losers go their separate ways, free from It’s torment forever. Richie is cast in a film, Beverly and Ben get married and are expecting their first child, and Mike recovers. Bill manages to coax Audra out of her catatonia by going on a ride on his childhood bicycle, which had once freed a young Stan from his fear. With It gone, the Losers can move on with their lives and leave Derry behind.
I thought this was a great film and became one of my childhood favourites and I am usually very weary of child actors in movies but there was very little I could fault them for or at least with what I could take exception too.
I loved the performance of Tim Curry, his portrayal of Pennywise was truly out of this world and considering he was playing an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, that really is saying something, Pennywise has to be one of the most laid back killers I have ever watched as he stalks his victims.
Though it has to be said, while the movie is fine as an unsettling atmospheric movie, the ending I am sorry to say was a bit of a let-down, it was…anticlimactic, I was expecting a full on suspenseful battle where after a long fight the enemy is slain with only one or two survivors.
Don’t get me wrong the film was great but the ending…felt wrong, Pennywise the clown is something that has been terrorising Derry for years and they had built up the “Bad-Ass” that is Pennywise throughout the movie.
The kid’s vs the killer clown was the teaser for the end of the first part, allowing them to return to face IT once more, that teaser should have always been built on but wasn’t and for me it was disappointing – but still a movie I love.
On a personal note this was the first movie that I first heard a section of “Fur Elise” by Beethoven, I instantly fell in love with the piece and have been a fan of Beethoven for the past twenty years.
I am sorry to say that whilst a remake is said to be on the cards, this has led to many making fake “Official” trailers that is basically a mashup of the original movie, with a “spooky” soundtrack, all to get people watching their videos and visiting their YouTube channel but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find teaser trailer.
A remake is here as Pennywise is to be played by Bill Skarsgard, worryingly, I got to thinking would they perhaps turn this into a two-part remake? And I suppose they could get away with such an action considering how the original was broadcasted, I hope not