Way back in 1990, Stephen King’s horror novel “It” got adapted into a two-part miniseries featuring Tim Curry as the evil demon who preys on children in the guise of a clown. While it doesn’t seem like much now, I know some people who have been traumatized against clowns because of this series so I have no doubt that it was scary at the time. This year, a reboot is coming so I thought it would be great to watch the old one as a refresher before checking out the new version to see how it fares.
Synopsis: In the small town of Derry, Maine, a mysterious being assumes the form of a clown to prey on little children and feed every thirty years. Seven childhood friends try to kill “It” and vow to return and finish the job thirty years if the demon strikes again.
I must say that Stephen King’s miniseries adaptations follow a certain formula in the 80s and 90s. They all have a similar feel. More than cheap thrills, they set up the entire scenario slowly and let the pieces come together for a major climax in the end.
Because they have a lot of time to spare to focus on the details, they are able to establish the characters and their backstories albeit in a dramatic fashion. Stephen King’s It may seem comical at times because of this “dramatic” approach and there were points when it seemed dated (because it was), but I still liked how it was set up.
Because the characters were properly established, audiences develop an affinity for them and root for them (kiddie and adult versions alike) when the time comes that they face off with their evil nemesis. The effects leave a lot to be desired but at the time, it was considered passable. At times, I wondered if “It” assuming the role of a clown was actually effective to lure kids at any point because he switched to creepy mode even before a minute of introducing himself to his victim. It was a glaring loophole that I hope will be addressed by the new movie.
I’m not a big fan of the orchestraic musical score because it made the scenes look cheesy by giving off a soap opera vibe. I am however, a big fan of how effectively the miniseries effectively established the strength of the friendship of the characters which was consistent from childhood to adulthood. It reminded me of Stand By Me and The Goonies which are great coming of age dramas. Stand By Me, incidentally is also y Stephen King.
All in all, I wasn’t scared by Stephen King’s “It” watching it now, 27 years after it was first released. But there is a huge potential in the story and the execution once it is adapted into a darker, more ominous version. I’m excited by how the reboot will turn out.
Here’s the trailer for the 1990 “It”:
Here’s the trailer for the 2017 version: