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Now for the bad sides of "It": as a made for TV project this movie obviously couldn't get too graphic and violent and that's a bit of a pity. Stephen King's book is awfully graphic and the movie would have been twice as scary if they had shown a bit more gore. Mostly Pennywise just appears and shows his sharp teeth and that gets lame after a while. The other big minus of this film is its ending. It has to be said that the ending in the book is so bizarre it's unlikely it could ever look good on celluloid. Still, those crappy special effects were just disappointing and made me (and everyone else I know) go: "Is that what I've been waiting for the last 3 hours? That is the big climax?"
Bottom line is that for a TV movie with such strict time limits "It" did a very good job at bringing this scary book to life. Nevertheless, I think the story should be retold properly and turned into a mini-series à la "Twin Peaks". The only problem is that it's going to be hard to find someone who can fill Tim Curry's giant clown shoes.
The story unfolds like a two part mini-series (which is, I believe, what the film was originally meangt to be). In the first half, a bunch of seven kids in a small town realise that recent child killings are not the work of a murderer, but are attributable to a monster which awakes every thirty years. They track it down and very nearly kill it, but it just manages to escape. Thirty years later, the seven are all grown up, but they re-unite to seek out the monster when it once more awakens for its regular killing spree.
The acting is very goood, especially John Ritter as a successful architect and Tim Curry as the terrifying Pennywise the Clown. There are some spooky moments, but nothing that I would describe as absolutely horrifying. This is an unusually deep and detailed horror film, well worth seeing.
My view is that his "early" works (including IT, THE STAND, SHINING) were his best. Wonderfully warped. And great fun to read.
That was the good news. The bad news is that, with rare exception (eg - SHINING) the B-grade studios that made easy money doing "tv movies" (you had to be there, otherwise you would not understand) generally snapped up his stuff and then did cheap, low-talent adaptations.
IT was one of King's more interesting works and this is one of the less awful adaptations. For insiders, most of the fun is in the first few scenes where one of the "characters" himself a writer explains that he has a job adapting his own work: "If anyone is going to mess it up, it may as well be me." The inside joke is that King himself was brought in as co-writer here because so many of the earlier TV adaptations were a disaster.
Again, one of the better ones. Lots of interesting faces here and there, including Ritter (an unappreciated dramatic talent) and Otoole looking radiant.
Adapted from the epic novella by Stephen King,It is set in the town of Derry,Maine,in 1960.A series of gruesome child killings are going on,which seem to replicate similar events that happen every 30 years in the town,rounded off by a big disaster that causes similar confusion and devastation.Seven young kids are drawn together over the course of the summer to face off against a psychotic bully named Henry Bowers and his gang,as well as coming face to face with the perpetrator of the horrific killings,a monster which generally takes the shape of a clown named Pennywise (Tim Curry).One day,they decide to go down in to the sewers and confront and kill It once and for all.They believe they have done this,only to get a call 30 years later informing them that this is not the case and that they must now abide by a promise they made as kids to return once again to do battle with It if it ever returned.Now,as mature adults instead of naive kids (and therefore finding it harder to believe) can they be as successful?
Very rarely do adaptations of King novels translate well to the screen,with only a handful of exceptions,and the producers of this two parter certainly had an even harder job on their hands turning a book of over 1000 pages in to a film adaptation.Under the circumstances,one might say they haven't done too bad a job,but they've had to edit out a lot of key sequences (and even characters) from the book,and as a result,they've ended up with a script that's had to leave out a lot of the original source material,and so you don't get the full effect of the book,which was a real door stopper of a book that took forever to read but engrossed you right to the end all the same.So as you might expect this film adaptation isn't as good as that but it's still an impressive, scary enough effort all things considered that spreads out an epic story engrossingly enough.
On the acting front,the child actors (with the exception of the one who played Bowers) fare better than the adult actors,with the exception,of course,of Tim Curry in terrifying form as Pennywise (one of the scariest characters in the history of cinema,never mind the fact he only ever appeared in a TV movie) and possibly Harry Anderson.Some of them are laughably bad in parts(especially the one playing the adult Bill when he tries to stutter,so sad when young Johnathon Brandis played him so well).Pennywise always gave me the creeps,possibly in a way no other horror movie character could,and nothing else is scarier in the film.But maybe scares aren't the main aim of the game here,this being a Stand By Me style King fable of friendship over-coming great evil against all odds.
Overall,this is a decent enough effort taking on the challenging task of turning an 1000+ page book into a feature adaptation,where it's easy to see where the cracks are showing but easy to appreciate for the things it gets right.***
And some semblance is what I got... and that's all. The deep, thoughtful construction that helped build the novel, where both the stories, the side of 1958 and the side of 1985 (the years are changed in the movie, but there's nothing wrong with that) are shown alternatingly, starting with 1958, moving ahead to 1985, and back again, creating a heartfelt atmosphere. The movie instead plays the older part in the first segment, as one full flashback that tries to cram way too many events into one bit, whereas they should have simply tried to organize their own way of telling, and the more recent events in the second half. It seems like every event in the children's section is segmented into 15 minute episodes, just trying to pile notable events in from the book, and it doesn't work. It might have worked better if they kept the construction that King originally established, but even then it would have hardly stood, as they took the events for no reason.
And even with this chronological sorting, they seemed to actually forget scenes and had to tack them on later as additional flashbacks that had little to do with the scene, but desperately needed introduction earlier.
Gone is the unifying theme of the group: They each escaped It. That's there, in a way, but it's moreover just tossed in for scares, and horribly stupid ones at that. Gone is the leper with the three-foot tongue that chased Eddie down the traintracks. Gone is any fear or tension when Bill rides off on his bike with Stan (it was Richie in the book, but that's not important...It's supposed to be a moment of escape, but they just simply ride away, ruining all reason for Silver to matter until the end, when the makers suddenly remembered that they needed it.
And then, the worst two bastardizations. It's OK if Richie encountered a werewolf instead of a giant statue. It's OK if the scene with Georgie at the start was during the day, stealing what could have been a truly horrific scene (maybe cause it was made for TV, that lightened it.) It's OK if the whole point of Henry's return is gone (maybe not... but I'd have let it slide.) And it's OK that they cut out the kids being lost after first believing they killed It (definitely because of the made for TV movie... hell, even a theatrical movie... I don't see that scene, even in suggestion, ever reaching film if this movie were to be remade and I'm not going to reveal it, you'll just have to read the book.) And gone is the origin of It. No, those things are forgivable... let's get to what isn't.
Personal Bastardization: I felt jipped when they finally confronted It and the whole deadlights business was dumbed down. It wasn't supposed to be hypnotic, it was a staring contest, that would eventually lead into the Ritual of Chud. This point is missed. And then the Turtle (don't ask, read) is also gone, losing the relation to the universe that Stephen King set up in the novel. It's no wonder that the scene of Patrick Hockstetter and his demented fridge (aside from it being made for TV and that scene would never be allowed), as the dealings of the Other weren't explored or even mentioned. I wanted to see how they portrayed the whole scene and they didn't even have it, which ruined the entire final confrontation at the end.
Universal Bastardization: The vow to return. In this, they easily walk out of the sewer and look outward, where Bill has them promise to return. In the novel, they crawl from there, exhausted and bewildered. Instead, there is no forced promise; they do it themselves, cutting their palms with a glass Coke bottle and making a blood pact that they would return if It was still alive. And the meaning disappeared as well, but I won't get into why, for fear of telling too much of the book, which I truly hope the readers of this review will read.
OK, I suppose I should get onto why I let this have two stars instead of one if I hated what it had done to the book, right? There are some beautifully horrifying scenes, such as when Beverly exits her childhood home and sees a balloon bouncing down the road, laughing. The sharkteeth in Pennywise's mouth aren't used well, but they look scary. And there was the great scene when they were children, where they hold hands in a circle and Stan suddenly finds himself holding hands with the clown. The acting is decent for a TV Movie and there are a few notable celebrities.
These few things aren't enough to make the movie good, and it really would only be scary for young children, who probably shouldn't be watching it anyway.
With the same budget and time space, a decent movie of "It" could have been made. Instead, there's this trash. I can only hope that someday, there will be another version of this created, one that captures the emotion, atmosphere, and incredible imagination that formed Stephen King's masterpiece of a novel, "It."
To be honest without the character Pennywise/It this two parts TV-movie wouldn't had been very well watchable or recommendable. The movie has a typically awful looking TV-movie visual style and the actors and storytelling aren't much good either. I have quite some fantasy but I'm just no big fan of Stephen King's horror novels. The story and the moments in it are just always highly unlikely, silly and over-the-top. "It" is no exception on this. Another major disappointing aspect of the movie are the special effects and the awful ending that is just a major let down and just isn't fitting and doesn't seem to have an awful lot to do to the earlier scary moments and the character Pennywise/It.
Still for the fans of the horror-genre, there is plenty to enjoy. The movie has some good, original and well constructed scary moments and the character Pennywise/It should be reason enough for horror-fans to watch this two part made for TV movie.
The cast mainly consists out of TV actors and aren't much good or likable. Funny thing is that the children cast is possible better and more likable and believable than the adult cast members. It was especially fun to see an extremely young Seth Green, who already acted in the same manner as he still does today.
Silly, bad looking but still scary and recommendable.
Why, oh why did they have to turn Eddie into a Mama's boy? In the book he's married. MARRIED. The "I've never been with a woman and now I'm going to die a virgin" line at the end of the movie didn't make sense. Eddie is a great character. Why did the movie have to ruin him?
So many important things were cut. What happened to the house on Neibolt Street, the underground clubhouse, various characters that were left out, Eddie's leper, or Bill dealing with Georgie's death, just to name a few? And I just HAVE to mention the ending. The spider was so fake it wasn't even funny (okay, kind of). It wasn't dramatic enough either. Nobody looked the least bit scared. It was just, "Oh golly, let's go down in the sewers and kill It once and for all." It wasn't turned into a climatic moment like in the books. The characters acted as if what they were down in the sewers was as natural as walking to the corner store and buying a loaf of bread. Wouldn't most people be terrified, thinking, "Oh my God, I'm going to die!"
This movie was terrible, don't waste your time on it. Read the book, and then wait for the remake. I'm hoping it will be a lot better than this piece of garbage.