Friday, September 8, 2017

Movie Review: It (1990)

I wasn't sure how to categorize this review since this story first appeared as a television special but I bought it on Blu-ray and watched it as a three-hour movie. Since I'm thinking of it as a movie, I'll settle with labeling it a movie review. Stephen King's IT had its first adaptation in a strange, comical, slow-building that borrows from the book and makes some questionable choices to deliver the horror of childhood memory and the remaining adult trauma. The acting is cheesy, there is nothing special about the special effects, and the horror is minimal, but still, there are parts of this that I enjoyed and I didn't mind revisiting after many years. My memory of it was disjointed and fragmented much like the adults thinking back on their childhood, but certain scenes were still etched on my brain like the clown crawling out of the shower floor and Tim Curry's performance is iconic.

When a young girl is murdered in the town of Derry, Maine, Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid) knows what caused it and calls up his old friends. Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas) is a famous horror novelist, like a lot of King's characters, who has been channeling his childhood trauma. The call from Mike brings back haunting memories including the time his brother Georgie went out with a paper boat and went missing. Ben Hanscom (John Ritter) is an award-winning architect who sleeps around with various women. When he gets the call, he remembers his youth (Brandon Crane) as a chubby kid constantly bullied by Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard). He escapes Henry's awful attempts to cut the bully's name into Ben's stomach and encounter young Bill (Jonathan Brandis) and Eddie Kaspbrak (Adam Faraizl). 

As each member of the Loser's club gets the call, they reminisce on their forgotten youth from older Eddie (Dennis Christopher) thinking back on his controlling mother who always claimed he would get a disease and his haunting in the boys' showers to Beverly Marsh (Annette O'Toole) leaving her abusive boyfriend only to recall how similar he is to her father who abused her as a young girl (Emily Perkins). Despite the immense fear, they all drop what they're doing and head back even Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson) who has a successful career in Hollywood except Stanley Uris (Richard Masur) who decides he'd rather kill himself than return. Young Richie (Seth Green) and Stanley (Ben Heller) would join the group on their excursion, Richie was always the joker.

The group experienced all sorts of hauntings as children like Beverly seeing her sink explode blood and Richie attacked by a wolfman and these hauntings continue in their adult life. Richie sees bloody balloons explode in the library where he seeks out Mike. Richie can't find him because Mike and Bill have gone back to reminisce with Bill's old bike. The group finally all meet up at a Chinese restaurant to catch up on their lives but are disgusted by fortune cookies that come alive with horror. Mike takes them to the library where they research the history of the evil clown and speak with Stanley's severed head. The frights continue when they retreat to a motel and Ben is fooled by It pretending to be Beverly who he has always loved. An old Henry escapes an insane asylum and heads towards the grown losers as well.

The story flashes back to show how the kids headed down into the sewer and challenged their fear with the help of Beverly's aim to destroy the clown. The adults have to do the same thing in a odd scene of special effects where Eddie admits he's still a virgin. The movie wraps up with the evil finally destroyed and each person able to move on with their lives. It was interesting to see this story play out because I'm going to take several more months to read the book. The new adaption definitely enhanced the younger story but this film does a good job balancing them both by telling the young story in flashbacks and showing how that affected each kid in their grown up life. It is a story that I am enjoying seeing in different forms and is decent horror not too scary to really give me chills. Tim Curry really comes out the best as the creepy clown even with the silly makeup, he makes the role work.

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