Monday, July 7, 2014

Stephen King's It (1990) Review:

If you were to keep a record of all the most iconic horror movie villains, this particular piece of cinema is probably the least exploited of the bunch. To name a few; Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Chucky, Leatherface and Pumpkinhead all have their respective fan bases and separate load of diminishing sequels. But when you look at Pennywise the clown from Stephen King's It (1990), it's baffling to why it wasn't milked like the other franchises. Even though this specific production had several other restrictions that the other films didn't, there are numerous reasons to why this iconic character should've went further. It's by no means perfect but it definitely is one of the most off beat horror films that fans shouldn't miss.

The Loser Club, they call themselves
Tommy Lee Wallace's direction of the story is really the defining key here. Besides the fact that instead of being an actual feature film, and playing as a mini-series, the set-up to the plot is the big hook. In 1960, a group of youngsters come together and form an unbreakable bond to protect themselves from a dangerous clown character known as Pennywise played by master of evil voices, Tim Curry. Thirty years later, Pennywise begins showing up again and the group comes back together one more time to stop him for good. The thing is for a movie, most horror films involve adolescent teens. This movie bookends the age bracket instead of covering the middle.

Also, it would be difficult to properly develop every character of the group if it were a theatrical film. However, this feature is roughly three hours long and that's plenty of time. Through the first act, viewers will get to understand each character and how they met. It may sound long but the pace doesn't slow down and Tim Curry shows up frequently, which helps it move too. Both child and adult actors perform very well and are convincing in their roles. On a side note, a young Seth Green is one of those child actors; sweet. Among the adult actors, there's John Ritter, Richard Masur and Harry Anderson to name a few. Anderson, who plays the adult version of Green's role is possibly the most comical, even though the tone is of serious nature.

Going back to Tim Curry though, his performance is the highlight. Yes, the main characters are well rounded and likable, but Pennywise steals the show when he's on cue. With the signature maniacal "Curry" laugh, perplexing image and disturbing gestures, Pennywise should've set off a ton of sequels. Plus, very few people enjoy clowns to begin with so that already makes him that much scarier. Unfortunately, the element that feels recycled is that of how Pennywise exists. In a way, he's like Freddy Krueger but instead performs his work while you're subconsciously awake. It's not all recycled but the concept of trying to decipher what is real and what isn't by 1990 and especially today’s standards are no longer a new thing. There's also a slight bit of backstory shed on our antagonist’s life but it too is never clearly uncovered.

As much as I like you Tim Curry,....
I am not following you down there.....
Another aspect to the film horror fans may not like is that the violence is toned way, way down. The majority of, except for maybe two kill scenes are off screen. If you want gore, don't set the expectations at a high level. In spite of this though, there are several moments to the running time that just raise the goosebumps with its deranged imagery. The practical effects are what help make these scenes effective. Just don't pop one of Pennywise's balloons. Ew. With that is the cinematography, which does have a number of good shots although I will say at times, the pictures aren't too colorful. I guess this was supposed to help Pennywise stand out. Perhaps. Lastly Richard Bellis' music was effective at times too. He was able to convey the right emotion and proper eerie music for creep factor. Sometimes it did sound cheesy but that's the 1990s for you. Overall still an entertaining horror film.

It may be long for some and its violence is barely on screen, but it compensates with likable main characters, creepy practical effects and an iconic performance delivered by Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown.

Points Earned --> 7:10

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