My History With the Film:
I first saw IT on VHS back in the mid-1990’s. My step-sister had suggested we watch the film one night and after a quick trip to Blockbuster we sat down to watch the beloved Stephen King mini-series. I would never describe IT as a frightening, because it never struck that tone with me, but it’s a film that makes you feel uneasy and tells a fantastic story over three hours. I ended up recording IT onto a VHS tape of my own and I revisited the series quite a few times in my youth.
It’s been at least fifteen years since I last saw IT, but I decided one Saturday night in October 2017 to sit down and see how IT holds up, especially in comparison to the new movie.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A group of adults are summoned back to their hometown to face down an evil force that they united to face as children.
What I Liked About It:
-Tim Curry is brilliant. I know that’s something everyone mentions, but it’s true. He creates this Pennywise character and makes him so menacing you believe that he actually exists.
-When I watched the 2017 movie, I loved how they broke up the story of the children and the story of the adults into two movies, instead of bouncing back and forth. After watching the 1990 film, I saw that the flipping back and forth wasn’t as tedious as I remembered and it was well done.
-One of my favorite scenes is when the group gets back together for dinner in Derry. It feels like you are witnessing a true life reunion several decades later.
-The acting is a little all over the place in the film. John Ritter (Problem Child), Seth Green (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jonathan Brandis (Sidekicks), Tim Reid (Sister, Sister), Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps) were real standouts.
-The library scene with the balloons was fantastic and the tension was perfect. IT is at its best when Pennywise is nearby and the effects are kept simple.
-I love the creepy water pumping station and I think it made for a fantastic setting. I hate the new film didn’t retain that element.
-Pennywise as Ben’s dad still sends chills down my back the same as it did when I was a kid. There is just something so screwed up and evil that Pennywise would use the likeness of his father to taunt him.
-Some other scenes that I really enjoyed was Pennywise talking to Ben once he returns to Derry and showing him the graves awaiting his friends. Also, Beverly’s return to her childhood home.
-The scenes featuring blood that the adults seem not to notice are wonderful. It’s creepy and really spoke to me as a child. It was like I had a window into a world that only myself and other kids could see and there is nothing more creepy than that as a child.
What I Didn't Like About It:
-I consider myself an Annette O’Toole fan, but not in this film. She has a few moments (the very end), but a lot of this film is nothing but cringe for Annette.
-People forget that IT was a television mini-series, which means it didn’t have the production budget of a major motion picture and you can tell. It’s filmed like TV was filmed in the early 90’s, and some of the effects are pretty horrible (stop-motion and spider come to mind.)
-I’m not a fan of the ending at all and I really hope the next IT movie goes a different route. I understand they were working with a TV budget and the novel’s ending is supposedly difficult to film, but hopefully they can come up with something better for the next film.
-IT is an enjoyable film that has not aged well. I feel like nostalgia fuels my enjoyment of this movie.
-At one point IT was to be directed by George Romero (Dawn of the Dead), but he had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts with the remake of Night of the Living Dead.
-In the novel and the 2017 movie, the group of seven survivors are called The Loser’s Club. In the 1990 film they are called The Lucky Seven.
-Laura Harris (The Faculty) portrayed one of the girls outside of Beverly’s school that insults her.
IT is an essential 90’s horror film, and something that all horror fans need to experience at least once. But I also recognize that in 2017, this twenty-seven year old film has not aged well due to its budget, television origin, and some casting.
Thanks to a strong story, IT is still very watchable. John Ritter and some of the other cast members make the movie feel bigger than it actually is, and I cannot forget to praise Tim Curry who took a character in a book and brought him to life in his own unique way.
But IT is long. It was a mini-series, and it clocks in a little over three hours. Of course, it essentially is two movies in one, so the three hour run-time is understandable and acceptable, but it does drag some. I’m not sure if younger fans who just experience IT for the first time in theaters would be able to sit through this mini-series.
It was hard to rate IT. Do I rate it how I felt about it in the 90’s or do I rate it how my most recent viewing came across? Do I compare it to the new movie or not? All of these questions entered my mind and I decided to just rate it based off my most recent viewing and forgetting all about the new movie. With that being said, IT is a six out of ten for me and a rental for horror fans. For non-horror fans, I’d just skip this version and move along to the new film.
I have a feeling this viewing will probably be my last and I don’t have a need to revisit the film, especially with the superior new movie having come out. I don’t mean to discredit IT’s place in horror history nor its importance, but I think nostalgia makes this movie out to be way better than it actually is.