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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Romanian
  Extras
  • Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies

It

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 180 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Stephen King is synonymous with some of the best horror books ever written and It would have to stand up as one of his greatest. Being a personal favourite, I was more than a little surprised that even an attempt had been made to make this brilliant book into a film. The book is filled with incredible detail and requires an enormous amount of imagination to translate the words into pictures and, quite simply, trying to reproduce this vision on film would seem a little pointless. The fact that this is also a telemovie didn’t help with expectations, but overall this is not a bad effort at all.

What is It? Well put simply, It can be anything, It knows your biggest fears and uses those to its advantage. Primarily It takes the form of the wickedly entertaining Pennywise the clown, enticing children to become its next victim. The reason It targets children is because they believe, adults lose this ability with age, or so we are led to believe.

In the small town of Derry there is something strange afoot. Children are being brutally murdered and the town seems to be oblivious to the chaos, possibly due to the fact that the same happens every 30 years and they all try to pretend it is a bad dream. A group of 12-year old friends, drawn together because they are all, well, basically losers, are determined to fight back. The cause of the mayhem is It, a monster in the form of Pennywise the Clown (Tim Curry) who is killing at will, unseen by the adults of the town.

"They all float down here!"

The gang decide to take on the monster in the sewers under the town and finally kill it, or so they think. They make a pact that should the monster ever reappear they will return to Derry and finish the job. 30 years later, the gang are all summoned back to Derry after Mike, the only gang member to stay in Derry, contacts them all regarding a new wave of murders. Their memories of 30 years earlier have all been washed away but the call from Mike brings many flooding back. The gang return to Derry, their memories increasing minute by minute, and they set about putting an end to It once and for all.

Being a telemovie, and I would suggest a low budget one, the producers have done a reasonable job here. There are some recognisable faces including a ponytailed Richard “John Boy Walton” Thomas, John Ritter and a very young Seth Green, better known for roles as Oz in Buffy and as the son of Dr Evil in the Austin Powers series of films. It is Tim Curry who steals the show though and he seems to be having a bit too much fun playing the evil Pennywise. He is exactly as I and many other readers of the book would have pictured him to be. The rest of the cast are adequate while needing to be nothing more, there are no Oscar performances here. The actors playing the 12-year olds are terrific though, showing the majority of the adults how it’s done. The scenes with the children give a real Stand By Me feel, another Stephen King book made into a superb film that featured a gang of children on an adventure.

The film continuously flashes back and forth from childhood to adulthood, but this is crucial to show not only the regaining of memories but also to demonstrate how they fought the monster the first time around. Although tightly squeezed into a mere three hours, the producers are reasonably true to the book and deliver an enjoyable film.

The only major disappointment is the special effects, which are for the most part incredibly cheap and cheesy but considering the film was made in 1990 and had obvious budget restrictions, this cheapness can be excused. Be warned though, the final series of scenes may cause a giggle rather than a scream. If you have read the book and had to use your imagination, then this might be an idea again where the special effects are concerned. Overall though this is one of the better examples of Stephen King's novels reproduced on the small screen.

  Video
Contract

Being a telemovie it is a pleasant surprise to see this release in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 16x9 enhancement no less. Picture is reasonable sharp throughout and is of standard television quality. Considering again that this is a lower budget film the quality is more than adequate. Had this been a cinema release blockbuster then many would consider the transfer inferior, but overall it is sufficient. There is some grain and softness, but generally colours are sharp with terrific black levels. There are no major problems to speak of with other issues, but this is far from reference quality. The other issue to be aware of is that this is a flipper, so be sure to put the right side of the disc on first or you may begin viewing half way through the film. Subtitles are supplied in a multitude of languages and the English ones tested are accurate to what is said on screen.

  Audio
Contract

Audio is supplied in English Dolby Digital stereo surround and is only mediocre. There is little use of surrounds for directional effect, but there are not that many to require this feature. The surrounds are used to some extent to enhance the music though. Dialogue is clear at all times with no synch problems. There are no dramas with hiss or distortion and overall this track does all that is required for this film.

  Extras
Contract

Only one extra is supplied with this release, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting anything. It comes in the form of a commentary from director Tommy Lee Wallace and actors Dennis Christopher, Tim Reid, John Ritter and Richard Thomas. It generally covers production information and is reasonably informative, but is not something all will spend three hours listening to. It's nice for the diehards though.

  Overall  
Contract

Overall this release is much better than expected. The video transfer is presented in a nice widescreen format which was a pleasant surprise and the audio is sufficient. The only extra is a commentary, but considering no extras were expected this was also a nice surprise. If you have read the book and are curious if the visions in your head can be transferred to the small screen, well this is not a bad effort. For those that have never read the book, this is an enjoyable little horror flick, but not one to make you have nightmares. Diehard Stephen King fans will want to add this to the collection whereas others may only view it as a rental.


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      And I quote...
    "This adaptation of the classic Stephen King book is not as bad as expected."
    - Adrian Turvey
      Review Equipment
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    • TV:
          AKAI CT-29S55AT 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DE685
    • Speakers:
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    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SAVE815ED
    • Surrounds:
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