It (also referred to as Stephen King's IT) is a 1990 horror/fantasy mystery miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, which has the ability to transform itself into its prey's worst fears allowing it to exploit the phobias of its victims. It mostly takes the form of a sadistic, wisecracking clown called "Pennywise the Dancing Clown". The main protagonists are "The Losers Club" a group of social outcasts who discover Pennywise and vow to destroy him by any means necessary. The series takes place over two different time periods, the first when the Losers first discover Pennywise as children, and the second when they're called back as adults to defeat Pennywise, who has resurfaced.
It aired as a two-part television movie on November 18 and November 20, 1990 on ABC, and loosely follows the plot of the novel. The miniseries was filmed in New Westminster, British Columbia in late 1989. The film's all star cast includes Dennis Christopher, Annette O'Toole, John Ritter, Harry Anderson, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Richard Masur, Michael Cole, and Tim Curry as the evil Pennywise. Argentinian actress Olivia Hussey appears as Audra, Bill Denbrough's wife.
1960In the town of Derry, Maine, six-year old Georgie Denbrough is lured to a storm drain when his paper boat drops down into it. He encounters a seemingly friendly clown named Robert Gray who calls himself "Pennywise the Dancing Clown." Pennywise tempts Georgie closer with promises of candy and balloons, exclaiming that they all float down into the sewer. He says that Georgie can float too before revealing his true nature, grabbing him and viciously tearing his right arm off. His older brother Bill is overwhelmed with guilt for inadvertently sending Georgie to his death and is terrorized when his picture comes to life, giving him a stutter from the trauma.
He befriends several similar "misfits." One is Ben Hanscom, a loyal, determined, overweight and ingenious builder from a home broken after the death of his military father. He is terrorized by visions of his father trying to goad him into the sewer plant. Another is Eddie Kaspbrack, a hypochondriac, asthmatic boy who is frail and shy. Kaspbrack is taunted and harassed by Pennywise (who shows a strong dislike towards him for being "girly"), while attempting to shower at school.
The group later includes Beverly Marsh, a tomboy with an abusive father and a dead eye with a slingshot. She believes Bill's stories when her bathroom is destroyed by a geyser of blood (courtesy of Pennywise) that he helps clean up before her father gets home. Richie Tozier is a comedic red head who isn't afraid to stand up to the school bully, Henry Bowers, and his friends. He is a movie buff, which prompts Pennywise to attack him as the Wolfman. Stan Uris, a Jewish boy scout and bird watcher, who is the next to see It in that summer when he is trapped by a mummy in an abandoned house. Mike Hanlon, an African American student facing a difficult time as a new student and resident of Derry, often finds himself in the crosshairs of the racist Henry Bowers as well. Mike is last to see It when his photography book comes to life showing him and the others Pennywise's history as he threatens the group.
As each of them face their greatest fears (as well as Henry Bowers's harassment), they vow to avenge the deaths of George and every other child killed by "It." They travel into the sewers followed by Henry, Belch Huggins and Patrick Hockstetter as payback for a rockfight a month ago. The losers enter in the main sewer hall and discover Stan is missing, as he had been pulled by Henry and Belch. Henry orders Patrick to create an ambush on the remaining Losers but is killed by It. Meanwhile, just when Henry is about to kill Stan, Pennywise in the form of the Deadlights, bursts through a sewage pipe and both Stan and Henry watch in horror as Pennywise drags Belch through the pipe and eats him alive. When Pennywise comes out of the pipe, Stan escapes while Henry stares at Pennywise and his hair turns white. Pennywise spares Henry's life and continues searching for Stan.
Stan reunites with the others and tells them the "deadlights" are far worse than Pennywise, and the losers decide not to stare into the lights. Pennywise catches the Losers and grabs Stan. Just as Pennywise is about to eat Stan, Eddie wounds Pennywise by spraying him with his inhaler which is filled with battery acid and Beverly cracks open the monster's head with her slingshot, revealing the deadlights. Pennywise does somersaults in the air and vanishes into the ground. Before he is completely gone, Bill pulls Pennywise's glove and the glove slips off It's hand revealing a three-fingered claw and then It disappears in the drain. With their job done, the seven vow to return some day if ever It returns. Meanwhile, Henry escapes the sewers is arrested and sentenced to life in an asylum for confessing to the counts of murder of all the children and his gang of friends.
1990Mike had become the only member of the Losers Club to remain in Derry after the events of the 1960s. His memory of the events are still completely intact, and when he hears of the mysterious, unexplained death of a little girl (shown in the film's prologue), he begins to suspect It has returned. He calls up each of his friends, who have all become successful in their own right. Bill has become a horror novel writer married to a beautiful actress named Audra; Ben has become a famous architect as he'd always wanted; Beverly has become a fashion designer; and Richie has become a late night TV comedian. Eddie owns a successful limousine service and Stan has become a real estate broker. Having moved on into comfortable lives and having barely a glimmer of the memories of that summer, they are all traumatized by the memories awakened by Mike's phone calls. While they agreed to return as promised, Stan is unable to cope with the fear and kills himself.
Upon the return to Derry, their reunion is lighthearted until terrifying events unfold that test their resolve. Beverly encounters a kindly old woman in her old home who tells her that her father is gone, but the woman is more than she appears. Ben sees the skeleton of his father, which is still trying to get him to return to the sewers; later, the group's reunion dinner comes to life and tries to attack them. Pennywise, unable to kill them because his influence over them as adults is limited, sends Henry to do the job. Bowers manages to attack Mike and wound him, which forces Bill and others to consider another direct confrontation with the clown. Eddie and Ben manages to kill Bowers in a struggle.
With Henry dead, It is prompted with the task on killing the Losers on its own. Meanwhile, Audra follows Bill to Derry but falls under the influence of It's "Dead Lights" and is made catatonic by him. As the five remaining "Losers" find their way to It's cave they are confronted by his true form; a massive, hideous spider-like creature that mortally wounds Eddie when he steps forward to save Ben and Bill's lives. Once again, Beverly is able to use her slingshot on the creature; this time the strike rings true and mortally wounds It. In their rage, Ben, Ritchie, Bill and Beverly slaughter and dismember It. Afterwards, they return to Eddie, who dies in their arms. They are able to leave, taking Eddie's body and the catatonic Audra with them. They later bury Eddie in the Derry Cemetery.
In the aftermath, Mike marks his own fading memories of the past as a sign that It was truly destroyed that time, and the adult Losers Club can return to their lives as the memory of the traumatic events fades entirely, Richie gets a part in a movie and he partners up with a man that's exactly like Eddie, Beverly and Ben solidify their childhood crushes, get together, get married and expect a child on the way. Audra, still catatonic from her encounter, is coaxed back to life aboard Bill's old bicycle "Silver" when he takes her to outrun It's fading influence the same way he did when the bike helped Bill while trying to save a young Stan who was frozen with fear. All as it was, they realize that they can now move on with their lives. As they leave Derry behind, Pennywise's evil laugh is heard one last time.
- Tim Curry as Pennywise/It
- Richard Thomas as Bill Denbrough
- John Ritter as Ben Hanscom
- Annette O'Toole as Beverly Marsh
- Harry Anderson as Richie Tozier
- Dennis Christopher as Eddie Kaspbrak
- Tim Reid as Mike Hanlon
- Richard Masur as Stanley Uris
- Jonathan Brandis as Young Bill Denbrough
- Brandon Crane as Young Ben Hanscom
- Emily Perkins as Young Beverly Marsh
- Seth Green as Young Richie Tozier
- Adam Faraizl as Young Eddie Kaspbrak
- Ben Heller as Young Stan Uris
- Marlon Taylor as Young Mike Hanlon
- Michael Cole as Henry Bowers
- Jarred Blancard as Young Henry Bowers
- Olivia Hussey as Audra Phillips Denbrough
- Drum Garrett as Belch Huggins
- Gabe Khouth as Patrick Hockstetter
- Frank C. Turner as Alvin "Al" Marsh
- Terence Kelly as Officer Nell
- Jay Brazeau as Derry Cab Driver
- Sheila Moore as Ms. Sonya Kaspbrak
- Tony Dakota as Georgie Denbrough
- Chelan Simmons as Laurie Anne Winterbarger
- William B. Davis as Mr. Gedreau
- Laura Harris as Loni (uncredited)
Broadcast historyIt originally aired on ABC as a two-part television movie in 1990 on the nights of November 18 and November 20. Part 1 was the fifth highest rated program on Sunday nights with an 18.5 rating and watched in 17.5 million households. Part 2 was the second highest rated program on Tuesday nights with an 20.6 rating and watched in 19.2 million households.
Differences between the novel and the film
- Georgie's death is more violent and explained in the novel. In the film version, George is pulled into the sewers by Pennywise and the next scene cuts to George's funeral.
- In the novel, It is revealed to be a female after laying eggs. In the film, this part is omitted.
- The Adrian Mellon murder is left out, instead It comes back killing a little girl.
- The scene where Beverly has sex with all of the boys in the novel, is left out in the TV film.
- Henry Bowers's death is more explained and violent in the novel. In the film, he is impaled through the chest by his own switchblade.
- Some characters such as Beverly's mother, Vic Criss, Gard Jagermeyer, Eddie Corcoran, Adrian Mellon, Don Hagarty and the Turtle were left out in the TV film.
- In the novel, Vic Criss is one of Henry's sidekicks. In the TV film, the character of Patrick Hockstetter replaces Vic's role.
- In the novel, Eddie Kaspbrak is married to a woman named Myra, who is exactly like his mother. But in the film, Eddie is single and still living with his mom.
- The rockfight is more violent and explained in the novel. But in the film, only Henry, Bev, Belch, Peter, Moose and Patrick get hit by rocks and the rest of the Losers don't get hit by rocks.
- The novel contains more strong language than in the film version.
- In the novel, Ben sees the mummy and Stan sees waterlogged corpses; in the film, the characters are swapped.
- In the novel, Eddie sees the leper, but in the miniseries, he sees Pennywise while taking a shower at school.
- In the novel, Richie sees a werewolf at the house on 29 Neibolt Street along with Bill. But in the TV film, Richie sees the werewolf at school while in the janitor center.
- In the novel, Henry is shown is to be big at 12 years old, but in the TV film, Henry is shown as a 14-year old.
ReceptionStephen King's It received generally mixed to positive reviews from critics and television viewers. Tim Curry's performance as "Pennywise" has received universal critical acclaim and praise for capturing the novel's interpretation of the character. The film currently has a 64% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Home mediaThe film was released on VHS in early 1991 after the film's initial broadcast. The original VHS release had two separate tapes, one with Part 1 and the other with Part 2. A later VHS release (circa 1997-1998) contains the entire film on one tape. All VHS releases of the film are out of print.
The film was released on DVD in 1999 on a double-sided disc with Part One on the front and Part Two on the back. The "To be continued..." and the 1st set of closing credits at the end of Part One and the 2nd set of opening credits at the beginning of Part Two (unlike the VHS release) were removed. The DVD version of It also features an audio commentary by the director and cast members. The film's aspect ratio has been cropped to give it a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio.
Music score2-CD's release of complete score by Richard Bellis released November 15, 2011 in two-parts.
Track listingDisc 1:
- Main Title I 1:52
- Enter the Clown 3:04
- Georgie Dies 4:17
- Ben Gets The News 0:51
- Punks 2:18
- I Hate It Here 1:53
- Bedroom Jazz Source 2:24
- The Slap 1:45
- Die If You Try 4:02
- Richie's Talk Show Play-Off 0:34
- The Beast - First Encounter 2:05
- Mike Remembers 0:58
- Mike Joins the Group 5:07
- Pennywise 0:39
- Circus Source 1:10
- Target Practice 2:51
- The Sewer Hole 3:13
- Stan Gets Nabbed 4:27
- The Fog 3:25
- The Pact 1:43
- Stan's Suicide 0:50
- End Credits I 1:00
- Main Title Part II 1:51
- The Graves 1:48
- Library Balloons 2:53
- Ben's Flashback 0:35
- Skeleton On the Pond 0:40
- Guillory's Muzak 1:27
- Hydrox 2:49
- Audra 1:45
- Fortune Cookie 1:54
- Silver Flyer 2:22
- Leftover Stan 1:52
- Henry and Belch 2:20
- Every Thirty Years 1:56
- Audra Arrives 2:02
- This Time It's For Real 4:26
- The SMell of Death 1:59
- Something's Coming 4:00
- The Spider's Web 5:11
- Hi Ho Silver 4:33
- End Credits Part II 1:00
RemakeOn March 12, 2009, Warner Bros. announced that a new adaptation of Stephen King's novel had started. Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison are set to produce. The screenplay is currently re-written by Dave Kajganich.
On September 21, 2010, film director Guillermo Del Toro announced that he would like to direct new adaptations of the Stephen King novels It and Pet Sematary but stated that he is very busy with a number of other projects and he would be unable to make them any time soon.
On June 7, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the novel would be adapted into a two-part film, directed by Cary Fukunaga with Chase Palmer as screenwriter; Jon Silk, David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith as producers and John Powers Middleton as executive producer.
- Hastings, Deborah (November 21, 1990). "TV movies score big in Nielsen ratings". The Times-News: p. 12. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=_hsaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=siQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4444,4902230&dq=it+abc+ratings&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- Hastings, Deborah (November 23, 1990). "ABC posts first ratings win of the season". The Times-News: p. 10. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ABwaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=siQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5226,6923887&dq=it+abc+ratings&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- "It". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stephen-kings-it1990/. Retrieved September 11, 2012.