Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Jonathan Brandis, Brandon Cane, Adam Faraizi, Tim Curry, Emily Perkins
Your every fear – all in one deadly enemy
It has been 30 years since a group of outcast children became friends and created their own little club called The Losers Club after being stalked and tormented by both a group of bullies, led by Henry Bowers and also a strange killer clown that calls himself Pennywise.
This clown is able to play on the fear of each child and the only way they could fight it was to stand together and face him as a group. After they have defeated him, they all grow up and go their separate way, but when Pennywise again becomes active in their hometown Derry, Maine, the only remaining member of The Losers Club that didn’t move away calls upon the rest of the group to face this demonic creature once again.
It is generally perceived that Stephen King stories work best in the mini-series format. It usually takes more than 90 minutes to build up the characters to match what he does on pen and paper and the end result has usually become better when his stories are fleshed out more on the screen with a longer running time than what a movie can offer.
It is a perfect example of this. I can’t see how this could be done justice in only 90 minutes and I’m very thankful that they went this way with the story since it has always been one of my favorite Stephen King adaptations even though I have to admit I have never read the book (I have no idea why I haven’t done that yet).
All the adults that did move out of Derry has forgotten about this part of their past, so the 60’s childhood scenes are filmed as flashbacks. This is done so both the adult and child stories can run simultaneously, showing how they were able to face Pennywise back when they were kids and now that they are adults.
Out of the two, the childhood scenes are the strongest. The child actors all act very natural and it feels similar to the excellent Stand by Me movie that came out a few years previously to this. It is easy to identify with these characters as I’m sure everyone has had something that has made them feel like a loser at a young age. Regardless if it is stuttering, physical attributes or even parents with flaws, your world is very narrow as a child and anything negative about yourself can hinder you from being a happy and carefree child. The beauty of the friendship that these kids develop are based on them accepting each other regardless of what they might not like about themselves and it makes the viewer feel so much more for them and hope that they can overcome this incredible evil being.
The adult scenes are not so strong and that does bring the film down a bit. The actors who play the adult characters are just not as natural as the children, which is quite surprising to be honest. That being said, they are by all means not delivering bad performances, it is just easier to feel for the kids. It is interesting to see these characters reconnect with each other, although their friendship never feels as strong as it did in the childhood scenes. The final fight against Pennywise is also lacking a bit more when they are adults, thanks to some bad effects which is the negative side of having to do something within the television format. If these two parts were put out separately then I believe the childhood one would be a classic, while the adult one would still be considered to be a good film.
I also have to spend some time writing about the evil of this movie. The clown Pennywise might be the scariest clown cinema has had to offer so far. Tim Curry plays the character excellent and even if he is doing funny stuff every now and then, he is always terrifying. It is a classic horror character that perhaps deserve even more recognition than he has gotten so far.
Director Tommy Lee Wallace deserves credit for his work on this film aswell. He has been involved with a lot of genre films, working with John Carpenter on films such as Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, Halloween and he also directed Halloween 3 and Vampires: Los Muertos. His work that has no connection with Carpenter has also been good, including writing the lovely Amityville 2 and also directing Fright Night 2. His part in horror shouldn’t be overlooked and his work on It is a great example of just that. The way he was able to make the child actors work so well together and the scares that he provided within this television format is just excellent.
It is one of the best made for TV horror films ever made. It is compelling, sweet and deals with lifelong friendship and yet it is also frightening and scary. It stands as one of the better Stephen King adaptation and I would even call it a horror classic that every fan should own.