It (1990)
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It (1990)

In the 1990’s a pair of Stephen King’s most iconic horror stories were turned into miniseries on traditional broadcast television; ‘The Stand" in 1994 and ‘It in 1990. The novels providing the source material were wonderfully thick, preventing it from being easily stashed in the rear pocket of my jeans. The thickness of these tomes reflected more than wordiness; the stories were among his finest. They paid attention to minute details crafting finely nuanced characters and scenes described in such riveting details that brought his words to life. The average running time of a feature film is insufficient to convey the intensity of the novel accurately, so the decision was made to transform them into miniseries. Two-hour segments spread over several nights proved to be an ideal format allowing sufficient time to properly develop the intensity of the story and also conferring the opus with the means to carefully build the psychologically based fight to make in the controlled environment. Each of these stories currents compose the gold standard for the future use of this format. ‘It’ represents the epitome of Mr. King as a modern master of horror. He constructs a sold, terrifying foundation of childhood fears simmering them expertly until the story is an adult horror of epic proportions. Among his complete body of work ‘It’ demonstrates we do mature out of the scary juvenile things that bump in the night but rather subconsciously suppress the horrors that we can’t comprehend in the context of our rational adult world. In his trademark fashion, Mr. King offers a reason for coulrophobia providing the most iconic examples with a clown peering from the sewer grating enticing little children. Reigniting interest in this iconic miniseries is the anticipation of the upcoming cinematic treatment of the novel. As an ardent fan of the miniseries under consideration here I admittedly possess an undeniable sense of trepidation that a shorter running time will be able to do justice to this fantastic rendition. At least ‘It’ has been re-mastered in high definition allow fans to immerse ourselves in the full experience complete with the details not discernible on the television broadcasts on 1990 or the original DVD releases.

I have always wondered what the Tourism Bureau for the State of Maine thought about the collective works of Stephen King. A substance number of them take place in the small towns that dot the landscape of the state. In keeping with this trend, the story opens in Derry in 1960 as we watch a young boy, "Georgie" Denbrough (Tony Dakota), playing with a folded paper boat after a rain storm. The boat is varied away down the gutter until it disappears down a sewer grating. As the boy tries to retrieve, he encounters a clown in full makeup and costume. The clown, Pennywise (Tim Curry) asks Georgie to join him assuring the boy "we all float down here" much of what draws horror fans to this story encapsulated in this single scene. Mr. Curry exhibits such an incredible degree of control over his portrayal of this fictional character that he became synonymous with the character supplanting his previous signature role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The change in the tone of his voice from inviting to the disturbing remark quoted above has become one of the terrifying moments in horror and something that will forever reside in a dark recess of your mind.

With the disappearance of Georgie’s older brother, Bill (Jonathan Brandis), becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to him. Even when Bill is frightened by Pennywise, is frightened but never loses his resolve. Part of the first act goes into details as to how Bill friend several other 12-year-old kids becoming close friends with them. They are all social outcast for one reason or another they thought themselves the ‘Loses Club.' Ben Hanscom (Brandon Crane) has several things against them on the grade school social hierarchy. His overweight, smart and imaginative. Eddie Kaspbrak (Adam Faraizl), is asthmatic with an overly possessive mother. Richie Tozier (Seth Green), the class clown. Beverly Marsh (Emily Perkins) Shari totally frightened result of alcoholic and abusive father. Stan Uris (Ben Heller), who is an asthmatic protective mother. Finally, there is Mike Hanlon (Marlon Taylor), who is African-American in a predominantly white community. By forming a group bound together through taking ownership of the derogatory slur, they create a synergistic strength. By allowing them to stand up to the class bully and burgeoning psychopath, Henry Bowers (Jarred Blancard), who conforms to the prototype of a Stephen King villain, the tough kid with leather jacket slicked back hairstyle commonly referred to as a ‘DA,' due to the curl protruding from the forehead. All seven of the friends are each tormented intern by the wicked clown.

After some research, the seven come to the conclusion that Pennywise is some inhuman, demonic creature that resurfaces in the area every 30 years. They decide to hunt down the creature dubbed. It, by tracking the sewers. As they venture forth deep into the darkness, followed by Henry and his equally sadistic minions, Victor Criss (Gabe Khouth) and Belch Huggins (Chris Eastman). Within the maze of sewer pipes then count of the creature who murders Victor and Belch but spares Henry. He is so frightened by his close call but is intimidated to such an extent that his head turned completely white. The friends finally encounter Pennywise who practice he keeps his one mortality by killing and devouring children. Turning the imagination uses a weapon against him, and he sprays them in the face with asthma inhaler shouting at its battery acid. While the creature respond Beverly uses a piece of silver jewelry and a slingshot shooting it in the head. It appears that they have succeeded for now but knowing that has the propensity to return every three decades make a solemn promise to come back if it ever does show up again.

The second night of the miniseries focused on the corresponding adult versions of the characters. Bill (Richard Thomas), has become a successful writer married to a famous actress. Beverly (Annette O’Toole, is now a fashion designer. Richie (Harry Anderson) turned his silly jokes into becoming a famous late night TV comedian. Stanley (Richard Masur) earns a stable income as a successful real estate broker, and Eddie (Dennis Christopher) runs a limousine service but still lives with his mother. All of them have forgotten about their encounter with Pennywise except for Mike (Tim Reid) remained in Derry becoming the town’s librarian. Since he never left town, he was the one who sacrificed the future outside the city to remember, standing guard against Its return.

The remarkable job accomplished by both sets of actors collaborating to ensure continuity in the details and nuances of the characters as they progress from 12-year-olds to adults. The danger to the narrative of the story this type of structure is that all the attention to horror up in the first episode would subsequently lose its impact after the break in the story. It is ingenious how the avoided by the director, Tommy Lee Wallace. As each of the adults slowly begins to remember what happened as children, the subjecting the audience to a new type of terror. The audience is that each member of the six who have left town may be lucky, but each one carries the emotional scars and psychological damage of their close encounter with pure evil. They are drawn back into memories of the past combines with their adult insecurities pulling them back into the same sort of fear that only a child can experience. Ultimately it falls upon Henry, the keeper of the story, to hold everyone together guarding through the dramatic experience of remembering.

This miniseries may have taken the general dramatic license and changing the source material, but it did an excellent job of retaining the slowly simmering terror eating to an explosive intensity dénouement. I’ve enjoyed the series many times over the years first on a VHS tape and then on a DVD, but it was like experiencing it for the first time through fresh eyes and ears as I enjoyed this high definition rendition of the story. The enhanced level of detail in the 1080p video and the DTS audio is remarkable and brings out a level to the performances previously discernible even if you have the DVD you will get so much more out of the story by investing in this Blu-ray edition.

Posted 10/04/2016

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