For the Hell of It

The gleeful villain of “It” is a phantom clown (Tim Curry) haunting the town of Derry, Maine. His name is Pennywise and he particularly likes to prey on fearful children. In the 1960s, he targeted a group of children, which proudly labeled themselves as the Loser Club. The members consisted of a stuttering boy (Jonathan Brandis), a fat boy (Brandon Cane), a girl (Emily Perkins), a four-eye redhead (Seth Green), a boy with asthma (Adam Faraizl), a Jewish boy scout (Ben Heller), and a black boy (Marlon Taylor). These children are easily scared when they’re alone, but when together, they’re emboldened to fight the creepy Pennywise. One day, after sick of being scared, the Loser Club tracks the clown down and somehow defeats It. However, thirty years later, children of Derry are mysteriously being murdered again. The Loser Club, now grown as adults, return to Derry to kill It once and for all.

I didn’t know that “It” was a TV mini-series, running at 192 minutes (with no commercial breaks – yay!). Since it was shown on TV, it had restrictions on its scariness. But even if it doesn’t deliver on today’s rated-R horror standards, “It” is blessed to be based on a well-plotted novel. The story is what makes a horror film good and not the special effects, right? However, bad special effects can definitely harm a movie. While I watched “It,” mediocrity was easy to spot. It could’ve used a better sense of atmosphere and a better effect of jolting us. But other than its mediocre production values, the movie overcomes these flaws.

I was hooked. Even if it was long on time, I had no trouble sticking around. Even if I had an idea where the story is going, I was filled with patient anticipation. What probably pulled me in are the characters and all seven are given enough time to be acquainted with. I especially liked the first half when they were still kids and there’s good deal of adventure in the air. The second half is a bit of a letdown due exaggerated acting of some adult actors and the ridiculously bad-looking ending. But even if the movie had its ups and downs, what remains effective is Tim Curry’s Pennywise. Clowns didn’t intimidate me as a kid. But I have to admit the “It” clown is scary-looking, but nevertheless, it’s still entertaining.

Watching this movie jogged me back to junior high. Back then, everyone in my class read young adult fiction in paperback. Then one day, a classmate brought in a hardcover novel called “It.” At the time, I was impressed, because not only was the novel dauntingly thick, it was written by Stephen King. My adolescent self thought, “Doesn’t he write the highest level of scary?! To read something like that seemed out of my abilities.” Now, I look back and smile. Since then, I’ve tackled some chunky books and read some Stephen King stories. And now that I know about “It,” my smile is even stretched farther. Because I suddenly remembered that the voracious reader I told you about just happens to be the class clown.

Grade: B+

Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, Jonathan Brandis, Brandon Cane, Dennis Christopher, Adam Faraizl, Seth Green, Ben Heller, Annette O’Toole, Emily Perkins, Tim Reid, John Ritter, Marlon Taylor, and Richard Thomas
Based on the novel by
Stephen King
Screenplay by
Lawrence D. Cohen
Tommy Lee Wallace
Directed by
Tommy Lee Wallace