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IT (1990) Review

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“Seven friends engage in a struggle with the demon they first encountered 30 years earlier in their Maine hometown.”

That’s the description given to the 1990 Stephen King adaption of It. Held as one of the many classics of the horror genre and having recently been readapted into a 2017 remake, I decided to go back and watch the original movie. Upon watching it, I found that the original was far more enjoyable than I thought it’d be, given the length of the movie, the oldness of it, and the somewhat unconventional “scary clown” look of Pennywise. The movie itself, while having it’s usual spooks and occasional scares (though I use the word “scares” lightly, as the modern day definition of “scary” for horror movies has devolved into cheap jump scares and so on), I found had a stronger basis as a sort of mental horror, with Pennywise himself feeling more like a villain who’d psychologically torture you as aside to just rip you apart.
The premise of the movie is that the seven protagonist children are targeted and tortured by this clown, alongside other unfortunate children who are killed along the way. However, the manner at which Pennywise goes after these children is less in a way of threatening them physically so much as it is torturing them mentally.
For example, Bill, one of the first characters we meet, is constantly tortured by the illusions of his murdered baby brother, Georgie. Georgie, who was killed by Pennywise, has his photos in a photo album that Bill owns. At one point, the pages of the album begin to rapidly flip, before landing on a photo of Georgie, and then starting to bleed. The mental torture aspect of this scene is, aside from the grim sight of seeing the photo of his dead brother oozing blood, Bill is the only one in the house who sees the blood, so when his parents come to check on the commotion, they scold him for his reaction, pick up the book, smear the blood unknowingly, and leave Bill alone in his deceased brother’s room, now full of blood.
It was refreshing to see a movie monster that doesn’t just deliver its spooks through the idea of how they could physically harm and kill you, and watching the scenes where the children are now mentally scarred, PTSD riddled adults were fascinating, as each one of them dealt with their trauma in a different manner, and reacted differently as well when they were forced to go back and deal with their childhood monster.
Although I haven’t seen the new It that came out this year in 2017, I can already draw a few comparisons in which I favor the old 1990 version. One of these comparisons are Pennywise himself. Pennywise set the precedent for the idea of “scary clowns.” From halloween costumes, to American Horror Story Seasons, even to the creepy clown pranks that went on during 2016; they all are marked to have originated from It. Considering this, it’s easy to think that remaking Pennywise to look creepier and more sinister was a good idea. However, I feel that the main idea of Pennywise’s monster and how he preys upon children was lost within the remake’s design. As seen throughout the movie, Pennywise has a habit of luring in children through his goofy demeanor and arguably “approachable” clown persona. Although he looks unsettling to us now (having been conditioned to be wary of clowns and so on), I can see how a child can be swayed by the silliness of the 1990 Pennywise. But, when comparing this to the 2017 Pennywise, I absolutely cannot see a child wanting to approach that Pennywise. All sense of goofy foolishness has fled the 2017 Pennywise, leaving a clown that looks more similar to a sinister comic book villain than anything else. The design, visually, is amazing, but doesn’t make sense as to Pennywise’s hunting tactics. However, as I have not seen the remake and have not seen if his way of hunting has changed, I leave this criticism up in the air to either be swayed or reinforced later on.
One criticism I know won’t be swayed, though, is just how the two movies look in general. I know that both movies have a 27 year difference between them, but I just can’t get over the drastic change in atmosphere, quality, and just general feeling between the two. The older movie, while having a sillier Pennywise, managed to keep me intrigued by how serious the air of it still felt. The older movie’s lesser quality, in my opinion, added to the movie’s charm, and added more genuine feeling to the timeframe the movie supposedly takes place in. When I see the new movie, with its updated, overly scary Pennywise, the new kids, and so on, I can’t help but hear the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that this was just another Hollywood remake trying to use an old classic movie as a cash cow with a reboot. A good reboot (if the reviews can be trusted), but a shameless reboot nonetheless.
On the topic of reboots, that in itself is an interesting topic with the new It. The movie had a record setting opening weekend, and the profits made increase more and more by the day. With recent movie going months having been encountered with what felt like nothing but sequels and remakes (some good and some very underwhelming), I can’t help but wonder what will come out of this overwhelming success that was acquired with this movie. A sequel to the remake is already planned, and while I personally have gripes about the fact that it just feels like a way to milk the book, the series, and the old movie, I know it’ll likely have the same awe inspiring opening weekend as this first movie.
Until then, just remember: don’t talk to strangers, keep away from sewer drains, and keep away from scary clowns telling you to float.

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1 Comment

One Response to “IT (1990) Review”

  1. Dub on October 3rd, 2017 11:43 am

    I miss the dark humor of the original, as well as Tim Curry

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IT (1990) Review