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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

IT (1990) - Tommy Lee Wallace

In 1990 Stephen King and Tommy Lee Wallace created an entire generation of kids who would grow up being afraid of clowns. This fear is referred to as coulrophobia, and I'm sure there are several people that could cite this movie as the root of their fear.

Originally aired on ABC as a 2 part mini-series, IT continues to be one of the best to film adaptations of King's work, however, the movie does suffer the same Handicaps as Langoliers and Rose Red; they all run about 45 minuets too long. IT could actually benefit from being re-edited or remade, but the case of the latter you wouldn't be able to get John Ritter so what would be the point?

Let's talk about the cast for a moment. If you aren't familiar with Tim Curry's work then I suggest you pick up this movie along with The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Legend; he is absolutely terrifying as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The way he delivers his lines are scary enough but having him dressed as a weird killer clown is absolutely terrifying. I noticed his make-up is very similar to Ronald McDonald's. I wonder if that was on purpose.

Other cast members include Night Court's Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Masur, the late Jonathan Brandis, Robot Chicken's Seth Green, and none other than Three's Company's John Ritter; and all of their performances are questionable to say the least and suffer from over-acting and poor delivery. There are parts that are acted very well but it seems as if the director sacrificed the opportunity for good acting in place of more storyline. A lot of that back-story just isn't needed and its absence would make the movie seem less... stuffy.

The movie has been referred to many times as one of the scariest movies made for television, and Pennywise is right up there as one of the scariest horror movie villains of all time. The way he is portrayed by Curry and the way he seduces children into his grasp is horrifying. The quick shots of Pennywise and his rows of razor sharp teeth are stuck in my mind for good. The effects leave a lot to be desired, but it is understandable (this is a "made for TV" movie). With a decent budget this movie could possibly have been the next Exorcist.

 "When you're down here with us, you'll float too!"
  • Tim Curry did such a good job portraying Pennywise that actors actually stayed away from him during filming.
  • Both actors John Ritter and Jonathan Brandis tragically died in 2003. Ritter suffered a fatal aortic dissection while Brandis hung himself.
  • Seth Green was menaced in this film constantly by werewolves. In the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Seth Green plays a Werewolf.


Flower said...

While I like your review I really have to question your movie tastes when you suggest Pet Cemetery as one of the best King movie adaptations. In reality King's books are all about story line rather than character, just as his movies are all about story line and not acting. I would say IT and Misery were the two best later followed up by TNT's version of Salem's Lot.

I would all add in Lawnmower man, but King refused to acknowledge that movie as part of his work. . . even if it did later bring forth the inspiration of The Matrix.

Why you suggest people go see Legend in appose to Clue for a good view of Tim Curry's work is also beyond my understanding.

Keep the reviews coming!

Peanut_Larry said...

Pet Semetary is widely known as one of the greatest horror films of the King adaptation line of movies. And the saying "one of the best" lends itself to interpretation of the placing. He didn't say it was THE best... Additionally, characters that people become attached to illicit more of a response when in danger/turmoil than characters that we know nothing about. Please explain to me how SK is a story based writer. I am currently reading The Shining and Jack is one of the most developed and 3-dimensional characters I've come across in literature.

As far as story arc vs. acting, most of SK's works were adapted for television with lower budgets and less popular actors so the acting might not be top notch, but the scariness is more about the atmosphere in these films.

And last but not least, Legend has one of the best depictions of the Devil. Far better of a performance than Clue (where the only enjoyable part for me was the ending and even that gag got tired quick). I'd take my 100th viewing of Rocky Horror over Clue any day.