Thursday, 29 November 2018

It (1990)

It (1990)

I don't think there's too many spoilers here but just in case...





The 2 part miniseries is longer than most films. Tim Curry is terrified of clowns, did you know? Really adds an amusing context to this film. He plays Pennywise a few octaves below a BRIAN BLESSED performance, but is still at the heart of some of the most unsettling moments in the story. And, I can assure you, if I had seen this as a kid, it would have ¤¤¤¤ed me up. Now, I am too old to see it for the first time, but appreciate the subtle creepiness throughout. The camera work is very fond of things just out of the corner of your eye before the big terror happens, and the incidental music adds to a creeping tension. I found this, being a Stephen King, to have the pluses and minuses of most of Kings work. A great idea or setting, some nice set pieces, and then a fairly rubbish ending.

In fact, while some of the big set pieces (giant spider!) are designed to be scary, I actually found two of the more unsettling moments to be in the less loved Second Part. Less loved, because apparently John Ritter and co were seen as less engaging than the band of surprisingly good child actors in the first half, led by the tragic Jonathan Brandis. But those two moments? A hallucination in which Pennywise is seen digging several children's graves, and tells the writer he can take any of the graves he chooses bar the one already taken. Funny how It knew about Stan's death before the others - as if it weren't suicide? But that image of the happy clown digging graves is more unsettling than a thousand jump scares. The other is the moment right before the old lady turns out to be a zombie. It's when she takes her hot tea and drinks it down in one gulp. Right before the look of horror from Annette O'Toole, before the teeth turn rotten, there's that "what the hell moment" from the audience. Now, it might have had more effect if the entire miniseries wasn't Pennywise Set Piece, breathe, Pennywise Set Piece, breathe, Pennywise Set Piece per each 5 minutes,, but it is what it is. If you're looking for less is more, it isn't here.

In short, it was fun, it had its moments, its aged well, and Tim Curry is a bundle of laughs (and I guess, creeps), but what really struck me watching is that three of the main actors - John Ritter, Harry Anderson and especially Jonathan Brandis - all died far, far too young. And that is probably a bigger horror than killer clown zombie spiders.