In 1986, Stephen King release one of his longest and most successful novels, "It."
Similar in tone to many of his novels, it's the story of a centuries old
horror that has risen again. In 1990, ABC television aired an excellent adaptation
of the book as a multi-part miniseries that starred several well-known television
actors as the adults that have returned home to destroy the creature.
The creature, played marvelously by Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, has returned
and begins killing children in the northern Maine town once again. The adults
are immune to the effects of the creature, as it preys upon the simple fears
of children. Remembering nothing, the adults are helpless to stop the creature
until a group arrives just to do that.
Harry Anderson, Richard Masur, John Ritter, Annette O'Toole, and Richard
Thomas are all members of a group of seven that defeated, but didn't kill,
the creature when they were children. Vowing to return and finish the job if
it should ever rear its ugly head again, they have done just that.
Split into two parts, the first shows how the childhood group defeated the
demon and what they had to face to do so. The second part, not as good as the
first, shows then once again facing their fears and insecurities as they attempt
to finish the job they started so many years ago.
The adult actors do a good job of presenting a portrait of the loser kids that
defeated the monster. Not all of them have become successful and most still
suffer from the fears that plagued them as children. Ritter and O'Toole
turn in good performances but Anderson could have taken a cue from his judge
on Night Court and spiced things up a bit.
It's a good adaptation of an almost un-adaptable book (for more on that
see Stephen King's – The Stand miniseries). For the budget and time
allowed it's a respectable production made memorable by Curry's
underrated and spooky performance as Pennywise the Clown.
Video: The video is presented in a matted, 1.85:1 widescreen
ratio. This seems odd, as I don't remember the original series being widescreen
and I wonder how this was done and if anything was lost. As it is, the video
looks quite good and crisp. The colors are a little dark and off, but the presentation
is good. Perhaps the darkness is from shooting for television instead of film.
There are little to no flaws and nothing is terribly distracting.
Audio: The Dolby Digital Stereo Surround track is quite crisp
on this release and the vocals and music are matched well. Having said that,
there's nothing really spectacular sound-wise about this disc. The feature
was made for television before audio had become important and there's
no true sonic goodness here, but it serves the movie well.
Extras: Another good commentary track on a budget disc. This
one features director Tommy Lee Wallace, and actors Dennis Christopher, Tim
Reid, John Ritter, and Richard Thomas. As with any group commentary, this one
is a good bit of fun and all relay the stories they remember from making the
series. Director Wallace addresses the obvious concerns on adapting such a lengthy
book to the confines of television and answers how and why things were chosen
and done as they were. This one is entertaining and informative.
Overall: For the price, this will be another disc for King
fans and horror fans in general to add to their collection. It's a capable
DVD with a good commentary and a great cast. It was also quite an ambitious
project in 1990, before computer animation and large budgets turned every mini-series
into an effects laden event. This relied more on story than visuals and the
final product shows it.