Stephen Kings has had many stories brought to the screen with varying success. In 1990 he had a good year. We saw the release of Misery and the birth of the “Stephen King Mini-Series Event” on ABC.
The film begins with a young girl being attacked and killed. We the audience, of course, know it is Pennywise…but while the police are doing their work, Mike Hanlon, Local Librarian, shows up. He finds a picture from his past, and he knows it is time to bring all his friends back home to make good on a promise.
As Mike calls each friend, they seem almost confused as to who Mike is, but we get treated to extended flashbacks to their childhoods thirty years prior.
The kids discovered an evil that feed in the town every thirty years. They believed they were able to defeat the creature, but promised to return home if the creature ever came back. And now that it has, the now grown group of friends return to Derry to try and destroy it forever. Of course, Pennywise tries to prey on their fears and use as many tricks to stop them as he can. but they refuse to back down and run away.
The cast is pretty solid. John Ritter is Ben, former fat kid Ben who is now a hard drinking and partying architect. Annette O’Toole is grown up Bev who married a man as abusive as her father. Harry Anderson is a little over the top hamming it up as comedian Richie Tozier (young Ritchie is played by Seth Green). Really, the whole cast is pretty good.
Of course, what really make the mini-series memorable is the performance of Tim Curry as Pennywise. It is a highly memorable turn and a highlight of Curry’s career.
Veteran horror director Tommy Lee Wallace does pretty good with his budget. He makes sure to focus on the skills of his stars to sell the intensity of moments. And that is a good thing. Why?
Probably the biggest sore spot for It is it’s visual effects. Some are good low budget effects. And you do not forget look of Pennywise. But the creature design for the final battle of the film is…uh,.. disappointing.
It is a bit more successful than many of the film adaptions of King’s horror work because it has room to breathe. It is carried more by it’s performances than anything else. And while some of it can feel almost hokey today, it still is a fun watch.