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Home | Film Review: Stephen King’s It (1990)

Film Review: Stephen King’s It (1990)


Childhood friends, Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson), Eddie Kasbrak (Dennis Christopher, Stan Uris (Richard Masur), Beverly Marsh (Annette O’Toole), Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid), Ben Hanscom (John Ritter), and Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas) were known as the Losers Club when they lived in Derry 28 years before. A promise they made to each other then is called upon to reunite them to fight an old enemy known as Pennywise (Tim Curry), who they thought they had defeated, but children are once again being murdered in Derry and they know they are the only ones who can destroy IT.


This is without a doubt one of the most frightening films I have seen. It was the 1990s and I was younger. I am terrified of clowns and this is just not any ordinary clown we see in other horror films. Tim Curry as Penny Wise just may be the scariest clown in the entire universe and to argue with that you must be crazy. I mean, to argue would just be silly. I watched this film for the first time in tens years and by myself feeling traumatized and remembering what it was like for my young eyes to be watching something so scary.

Now I am all grown up and it’s still scary! The whole scene where he is in the sewer talking to Georgie…I will admit I had my head faced the other way and even the sound of his voice gave me the chills. I bet there are some out there rolling their eyes at me right about now. You can crack all your jokes. I am still afraid of this film. Then you see those razor sharp teeth! I don’t know what little boy would want to be friendly with a clown in a sewer anyway?

Another scene with Georgie..or well sorta Georgie is when big brother Bill is looking at his picture and it winks at him then blood starts pouring out. I don’t know why but it always had chills down my spine. In Beverly’s bathroom with all the blood, that was terrifying to me as a child and I am not trying to make you laugh when I say I didn’t step foot in a bathroom or even shower for three days. Gross right? Well I was afraid Pennywise would come out of my bath tub drain, the drain in the sink, or even touch my butt while sitting on the toilet. My brother didn’t make me any less scared. I got over it. Beverly hears voices of dead children in the drain and witnesses a gout of blood spurt from the sink. Another scene that had me scared was when the Jew Stan hears a calling and goes inside of the house where it looks like a very burnt clown? I’m not sure what to make of what I saw but it didn’t put me at ease.

Honestly, any scene with Penny Wise scared the sh*t out of me. Maybe not the library scene where he is f*cking with the older Richie. I’m still so disappointed in the ‘spider’ like form in the ending. Should of stuck with the clown. The music I enjoyed very much. The main theme is twisted and scary when the credits role in and the letters IT appear in bold red letters. And that other twisted clown/carnival theme didn’t help at all. Great score. What special effects there are seem to be limited to flashes of light, some stop-motion animation ala The Nightmare Before Christmas and a decent helping of gooey red blood. One of the major problems with taking a Stephen King novel—notorious for their gore and scares—and slapping it on the small screen is that you never fully receive the impact you deserve. Often these TV events are watered down versions of what should be premium bloodbaths.

 (per IMDB) Cool Fact on IT?
Bill is the author of a horror novel titled “The Glowing”. This may refer to Stephen King’s “The Shining”. The night guard in the asylum is called Koontz, named after Stephen King’s rival author Dean R. Koontz. In the movie the words “Beep beep, Richie” are often used. In the novel it is explained that this phrase is meant to get Richie to shut up. The movie the children are watching when they drop drinks and popcorn on the bullies is I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957).

On the DVD commentary track, the actors note that Tim Curry’s characterization of Pennywise was so creepy and realistic that everyone avoided him during the filming. Jonathan Brandis was on “SeaQuest DSV” (1993), where Seth Green made a few guest appearances. Green’s nickname was “Wolfman”. When Beverly is listening to the voices in the drain, one boy identifies himself as Matthew O’Connor. Matthew O’Connor is also the name of the Supervising Producer of the film. A girl in the drain identifies herself as Vicky Burrows. Victoria Burrows did casting for the movie. You have to read the book. In my honest opinion the book is way scarier and more brutal than the actual film. I could of sworn it mentioned Beverly having intercourse with the boys….which would be very odd. But I would have to read it again.

“It” apparently originated in a void containing and surrounding the universe, a place referred to in the novel as the “Macroverse” (a concept similar to the later established Todash Darkness of The Dark Tower series). It’s real name is Bob Gray or Pennywise (although at several points in the novel, It claims its true name to be Robert Gray) and is christened “It” by the group of children who later confront It. Likewise, its true form is never truly comprehended.

It’s favorite form is a clown (with fangs and large claws when it stalks a child) known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and its final form in the physical realm is that of an enormous spider, but even this is only the closest the human mind can get to approximating It’s actual physical form. It’s natural form exists in a realm beyond the physical, which It calls the “deadlights”. Bill comes dangerously close to seeing the deadlights but successfully defeats It before this happens. As such, the
deadlights are never seen and It’s true form outside the physical realm is never revealed, only described as writhing, destructive orange lights. Coming face to face with the deadlights drives any living being instantly insane (a common H. P. Lovecraft device). The only known person to face the deadlights and survive is Audra Phillips, Bill’s wife.

Stephen King movies are normally a hit-or-miss commodity. Some of them are good (Pet Sematary, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery). A lot of them are bad (The Mangler, Sometimes They Come Back, Children Of The Corn). And a few of them fall somewhere in between, which is the case with Stephen King’s It.

Originally produced as a prime-time TV event ala The Stand, Stephen King’s It was spread out over two or three nights so viewers had plenty of time to bite their nails waiting for the next chilling installment. The only problem is that Stephen King’s It isn’t so much chilling as it is cheesy and goofy. At around three-plus hours, Stephen King’s It tries to pack a lot of characterization and exposition into its tight, made-for-TV budget. There’s a lot of stuff going on, though much of it often feels like filler. The dialogue sometimes induces a bit of eye-rolling, but it’s all in good fun. Because we not only have to get to know the characters as children but also adults, this makes for a somewhat quick overview of each protagonist.

The characters in this film are probably my favorite characters in any Stephen King production. There are so many faces I enjoyed seeing. John Ritter is just the bomb. Period. Or well he was the bomb but he sadly passed away. Most people look at this film and go, “Hey it’s that guy that f*cked those two chicks in Threes Company.” The man is a legend and has appeared in over 100 films.

He plays the older Ben aka (fat boy). His character went through as much humiliation as the others only without a father. As a boy he actually sees his father only it’s the clown telling him his new home is the sewer. It always creeped me out when he asked if he wanted a balloon and you start to see more clown features appear. In the end he gets the girl which made me feel all warm inside. Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown of corpse stole the show and is known to me as one of the greatest actors of all time. The man has played the devil, a bisexual alien, and perhaps the scariest clown in the universe.

I can never get his voice or that image out of my head. It still haunts my dreams. Even though some scenes were quite comical and he was good about making you laugh, he was also very good at making you piss yourself. Seth Green plays young Richie, the dorky red head with taped together Buddy Holly glasses. BEEP BEEP RICHIE! Emily Perkins played young Beverly Marsh, the only girl member of the losers club and the one that kicks total clown ass with a sling shot. You may recognize her in the Ginger Snaps trilogy which happens to be one of the best were wolves film out there. I absolutely love anything Emily Perkins does. Even her small role in Juno. She captured the role of Beverly Marsh quite well. Richard Thomas plays older Bill. I remember seeing him in the film “September 30, 1955.

It’s a neat little flick about the day James Dean died. Thomas is attempting to play against type of his John Boy image, Thomas sports a long ponytail (or, most likely, a clip-on from the costume department) and tries to induce a little edge to his character. His attempts come up snake eyes—maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stand Thomas’ overwrought acting style (he seems to play everything as if he’s working on a community college production). Jonathan Brandis from Sidekicks what the f*ck? Exactly. But that was released after IT and s was Ladybugs. You get to see him in drag there. What ever happened to that kid? Any who, he plays younger stuttering Bill. The beautiful Annette O’Toole (Martha Kent in Smallville, Superman III, and Cat People) played the older Beverly Marsh. Beverly Marsh was just an all ’round interesting character to me.

Her mother is gone and her father is the school janitor with anger issues. Honestly, the scene where she goes back home to speak to “Mrs. Kirsh” about how she use to live there….oh you betcha that scared the crap out of me. She is stirring a cup of blood and then Mrs. Kirsh lifts up her head and it looks like her father’s decayed face and he’s saying, “I worry Bevy, I worry a lot.” You find that the clown is really f*cking with her. Scary! Dennis Christopher plays the older Eddie Spaghetti. You can see him as an old magician in the series Angel and films like; “Blood and Lace, September 30, 1955, Necronomicon, and Fade to Black” The film also has appearances by; Olivia Hussey (Romeo and Juliet, Black Christmas the original) .

Frank C Turner as the father of Beverly Marsh that gave me the creeps. I don’t want the majority of the review to be about the cast and characters so in a nutshell here is the losers club; The seven Losers are the children who are united by their unhappy lives, their misery at being the victims of bullying by Henry Bowers and their eventual struggle to overcome It.

They are clearly characters in the King tradition of sympathetic, plausible heroes who find themselves caught up in an evil they cannot quite comprehend but with which they must battle. Stuttering Bill that enjoys writing. The fat one. He was dubbed “Haystack” Beverly “Bev” Marsh: The only female in the group. Richard “Richie” Tozier: Known as “Trashmouth” Eddie Kaspbrak: Eddie is a frail hypochondriac whose asthma is psychosomatic. Mike the token black guy/kid and Stanly the Jew who liked birds.

Stephen King’s It (1990)

One comment

  1. On a quick note, Jonathan Brandis died, he killed himself in 2003…
    Actually, It is one of my favourite movies based on a Stephen King novel. It made suspicious of clowns. I didn’t particularly loved them before the movie, but afterwords and for quite a long time I would see clowns and start imagening weird stuff. I also didn’t like the spider like form, the clown was already scary. For me it was even worse, because clowns are supposed to be friendly when spiders people don’t like them, anyways.


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