Stephen King Marathon: “It” (1990)

Welcome back to my final blog of my Stephen King marathon! Yes, Halloween is finally here and that means another themed month comes to an end. I’m sorry it wasn’t as substantial as the last few were, but maybe I’ll continue this on next October to make up for it. We’ll see. For now, I’ve decided to bookend this month by returning to the world of “It.” Except this time, I’m going to discuss my thoughts on the 1990 TV miniseries starring Tim Curry. Did I like it? Well, mostly.

The plot to this three-hour series isn’t much different than the new remake, except this one has to balance both the childhoods and adult lives of the Loser’s Club. Mike Hanlon, who still lives in Derry, is forced to call up the rest of the gang when it appears that It/Pennywise has returned. The miniseries flashes back at times to the group as children and shows their initial encounters with the creature. And when they return to Derry as adults, they decide they must destroy It once and for all.

Since the remake solely focused on the kids, I’ll use this time to discuss their segments here. Simply put, all of the kids put on convincing performances. My biggest issue came from Jonathan Brandis, who plays Bill, for at times being a little inconsistent with his stutter. Even then, that’s a minor nitpick, as you could argue his confidence gain from being with the group helps him quell it. I did feel the fears weren’t made as clear as they were in the remake, but I found the flashbacks in general to be the most interesting part of the whole thing. I especially liked the use of a photo album to have Pennywise interact with the kids, which is clearly what the projector scene from the remake takes inspiration from. I think the only major complaint I have about the flashbacks would be anything to do with Henry Bowers. Sure, he’s a threatening and borderline psychotic bully, but he comes across pretty one-dimensional and generic. Aside from that, those parts were very well done, even if they are completely out of order (apparently as they are in the book).

The adult portions, however, were kinda hit and miss. I enjoyed the adults for the most part, but sometimes the acting came across a bit campy and some line reads weren’t the greatest. I also found only a couple creepy moments to be pretty effective, such as when Beverly returns to her childhood home or when an older Henry is manipulated by what appears to be his dead friend. But my biggest issue with the adult segments is that I found them less interesting. It felt like the story tended to drag whenever they were onscreen, and by the time they confronted It I just wanted the story to end. However, from what I’ve gathered from my husband (who’s been reading the book), the miniseries is mostly faithful to it. I have to give both for the child and adult portions kudos for that, at least.

And finally, we come to the man himself, Tim Curry. I said that I thoroughly enjoyed Bill Skarsgard’s performance in the remake, and the same remains true here. Curry is a blast to watch from start to finish, and he has a underlying creepiness to him that comes across well most of the time. However, I just couldn’t take his version seriously. Whenever his Pennywise guise was onscreen, I wasn’t the least bit scared. Between parts with him “tormenting” Eddie in the showers and pestering an older Ritchie with loud noises and bad jokes, he was more entertaining than spooky. I think the one thing I can say is scary between both his and Skargard’s versions is the concept of It altogether. The fact that this creature can manipulate you by showing off your deepest, darkest fears is way creepier to me than a evil-looking clown. However, even if it didn’t scare me, I do feel Curry’s version is still a valid and well-acted interpretation of the character. I can plainly see why it and this miniseries in general is so beloved by people.

Overall, the “It” miniseries is pretty good. It has enough moments that could easily creep people out, and I’m sure if I’d seen it as a kid I would have probably had nightmares. Tim Curry is the standout performance here, though the kids do a great job and the adults aren’t too bad either. While the pacing can occasionally feel slow, hardly anything feels arbitrary to the story and it spends the time to invest you in the characters and their world. If you haven’t already seen this, give it a shot. Just remember that it’s the length of a “Lord of the Rings” movie, so be ready to spend an afternoon or evening on it. Thank you for joining me for my Stephen King marathon, and I’ll see you again possibly for more or something completely different next October!

 

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