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Title: Stephen King's IT

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:71

If there’s ever a reason for the universal hatred of clowns as creepy, Stephen King’s “IT” has to be one of the movies that solidifies that fear in everyone. Clowns are either a cute addition to a child’s birthday party, or else there’s an intense and disturbing fear of the creepy men in white makeup and red squishy noses. Films have painted them as horrific for decades, whether it be as simply as someone making a Halloween prank, down to films like “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”, “Amusement” and “Blood Harvest”. However, “IT” is always the poster child for that genre of horror, as Stephen King has a knack for making the macabre even more so. The novel terrified this young reviewer as a child, and still rank the reading as one of the molding points in his horror addiction. Right up there with “The Shining”, it is disturbing, yet exquisitely written. The film is really less a feature film, but a 3 hour long made for TV movie/Miniseries that tends to run a bit long in the tooth and has been either loved immensely, or thought of as one of King’s more mediocre book to film adaptations.

The film is split into two sections, one taking place in 1960 (30 years ago), and the rest taking place in the present (1990, when the film was made), but there is a rash of murders taking place in Derry, Maine. Murders which hold a strong similarity to a spree that happened 30 years ago. Mike Hanlon (Tim Reid) sees the similarities and calls up a meeting from his six friends from the past. Told through the use of flashbacks to 1960, it becomes evident that there is much more to this than meets the eye. Bill Denbrough (Richard Thomas), one of the seven friends, had his brother Georgie murdered by a mysterious clown back then (played by Tim Curry, the master of playing creepy villains in makeup), causing the group of loser friends to band together and banish the monster and his machinations before he could kill anymore.

The problem is that he is back again, and the friends are now 30 years older, but still terrified of the monster they faced back in their youth. Now that they have been called together, despite their fears, the group of misfit friends have to figure out a way to kill the monster once and for all. This time not leaving it to chance or assuming that IT is gone.

“IT” is a film that mixes up good old fashioned childhood memories with some truly creepy horror moments. The film tends to be a bit dated, with 90s tropes and writing habits that really are better left IN the 90s. However, the core of Kings Novel is still the same. A demonic creature that haunts the young kids (and later when they’re adults) so that he can feed on their fear. Clothed in the guise of a clown, which is already creepy enough, he torments seven friends and preys on their biggest fears and weaknesses that they had growing up. Much of the film actually feels like a disturbing concept where Stephen King decides to do a remake of the goonies, and slaps evil clowns in as the villains. Silly as that may sound, the same storytelling tweaks that made the goonies so good is here as well. The group of friends who tend to be a bit “odd” growing up. The coming of age around 10 years old. An adventure that will test their mettle, and some cheesy dialog that really feels like a good old 80s/90s genre adventure.

“IT” has a lot going for it, especially due to the fact that the master of Horror, Stephen King himself helped with the project. However there are some distinct flaws that really hamper the film as well. As it was made for TV, the budget very much resembles that little fact. Not to mention that the novel was stuffed into a 3 hour event that drags on a bit too long for its own good at times. The first hour of the film is really just a little backstory intermingled with Mike Hanlon calling each and every one of the six missing friends and reminding them of their promise to come back and defeat the monster if ever it returned By the time we get to the second act the movie is already feeling a bit long in the tooth. However it is that second act that carries a lot of the pertinent information and really gets the ball rolling. I personally think that about 30 minutes could have been trimmed off the film by just cutting all of those phone calls and invitations to come back to Derry into a few minute montage rather than trying to give extensive backstory to all of the main characters.

Just a note to everyone. The movie is the 187 minute cut from the DVD, and not the 5 minute extended cut that was shown on the VHS back in the day where Bill has a conversation with a woman at the hotel. While that may not be a big deal, as that VHS cut was never really standardized, but some purists may want to know if that makes any decision to purchase any easier or harder.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video :4stars:
The video is the best part of the film, for sure. Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the made for TV flick (or miniseries, as it was advertised as sometimes) looks quite pleasing. Grain is heavy and thick, but naturally so, showing off plenty of fine detail underneath. Sometimes the grain levels would fluctuate, with certain scenes being crisp and clear with very little grain, while others got a bit on the heavy side. Softness comes and goes, but a majority of the cheap little film looks quite nice. Especially the moments in the 90s. Colors are warm and richly saturated, with strong primary reds and greens and blues, but the 1960’s era had a bit of an orange/gold tinge to the color spectrum to differentiate from the present sequences.

Audio :3.5stars:
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio track on board sounds nice for what is, a TV movie, but also shows some of the limitations inherent to a project like that. Dialog is strong and clean, with a nice balance with creepy score, but I did notice that there was a harshness and thin feeling to the upper end of the spectrum. It was nothing that really interfered with the track, but a phenomenon that hung around with vocals and an overall feeling of just being slightly anemic. The LFE is mild, but there is some deeper moments burned into the 2.0 track. Especially down in the sewers where they meet Penywise for the first time. The front soundstage is a little boxy, but expansive enough to add some fun little moments to compliment the very dialog heavy film.

Extras :2stars:

• Audio Commentary by Director Tommy Lee Wallace and Actors Dennis Christopher, Tim Reid, John Ritter and Richard Thomas

Overall: :3.5stars:

“IT” is sadly not the greatest of the Stephen King movie lineup, but it is a fun little movie that just suffers from the problem of having too much time to tell the story and not enough editing. Tim Curry is deliciously creepy as Pennywise the clown, and the addition of several well-known actors, including the late great John Ritter, makes for a solidly fun trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up terrified of clowns. Audio and video are very solid for a catalog release, but like “Cat’s Eye” there’s just an audio commentary that is transferred over from the DVD release years ago. On a side note. Amazon has a special edition package of the film that includes not only the Blu-ray, but the DVD as well as an “IT” shirt packaged in. Nothing like the giant “box of swag” that Warner likes to do with their oversized boxsets, but still a nice little addition for fans.

Additional Information:

Starring: Tim Curry, Tim Reid, Harry Anderson
Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace
Written by: Tommy Lee Wallace, Stephen King, Lawrence D. Cohen
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner
Rated: NR
Runtime: 187 minutes
Own IT on Blu-ray on September 20!

Buy Stephen King's IT On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Stephen King's IT: Collectors EditionOn Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Solid Watch

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