It (also referred to as Stephen King's It) is a 1990 horror television miniseries, based on the novel of the same name. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form that is simply referred to as "It", which has the ability to transform itself into its prey's worst fears allowing it to exploit the fears and phobias of its victims, while also disguising itself when hunting. The main protagonists are "The Losers Club", or "The Seven", a group of social outcasts who discover "It" and vow to destroy him by any means necessary. The series takes place over two different time periods, the first when the Losers first discover "It", and the second when they're called back to defeat "It", who has resurfaced. "It" mostly takes the form of a sadistic, wisecracking clown called "Pennywise the Dancing Clown", which it uses to lure children and kill them. It takes place in the fictional town of Derry, Maine between the two aforementioned timelines, 1960 and 1990.
It aired as a two-part television series that ran from November 18 and November 20, 1990 on ABC, and loosely follows the plot of the novel. The miniseries was filmed in New Westminister, British Columbia in late 1989.
The miniseries received mixed reviews, praising the performances of Tim Curry and the kids, but was criticized for its pacing and the special effects in Part 2.
In the opening scene, a little girl rides her bike down the street happily singing. Her mother tells her to come inside. Just as she is about to go inside, she hears a clown giggle. She turns and spots a clown standing in her backyard. The film then cuts to her mother looking for her, and then finding the girl (off camera) dead in the backyard. This prompts Mike Hanlon to call across the United States looking for his six friends, telling them that "It" has returned and their promise from years ago that if "It" ever comes back, they will fight it again. The film is then told in separate flashbacks among the seven friends.
Bill, Ben , Bev, Richie, Eddie, Mike and Stan, a group of kids, form the "Losers Club," a group of social misfits who meet and form a tight-knit friendship. Each of the children individually encounter the mysterious, child-killing clown haunting their home town of Derry, Maine. The monster, which the group later collectively names It, usually appears as the thing the child victim most fears before taking the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Their separate encounters are later fortified when they all witness Pennywise reach out from a photograph (threatening to kill them) in an album owned by Mike.
Spurred by Bill's desire for revenge on It for killing his younger brother Georgie, the Losers resolve to locate It's home in the sewers and destroy the threat to Derry once and for all. Henry Bowers, the psychopathic neighborhood bully, and two of his friends, Victor Criss and Belch Huggins, follow the group into the Barrens and into the sewers, in a bid to ambush and kill them as revenge for an earlier rock fight. During their trek through the sewers, Stan is pulled away from the group by Henry, Victor, and Belch and Henry pulls out a switchblade. Victor has been ordered to ambush the other losers from another side but is killed by It.
As the remaining losers come to the middle of the sewers, they discover Stan is missing. Belch restrains Stan as Henry prepares to kill him with the pocketknife, but Pennywise (in the form of the "deadlights") bursts through a sewage pipe and kills Belch while Henry and Stan watch in horror. As It makes its way out of the pipe, Stan flees and Henry's hair instantly turns white from the sight of It's true form. It spares Henry's life and continues searching for Stan.
Stan meets up with the losers and warns them that It's true form has something to do with living white lights that instantly kill anyone who looks directly at them and which is far more reprehensible than Pennywise. They are to avoid looking into It's "deadlights." It vanishes, and smoke fills the chamber. The seven form a circle, although It attempts to distract and break them apart by simultaneously appearing as Georgie, Beverly's father and a werewolf. It, in the form of Pennywise, attempts to eat Stan alive, but Eddie stuns It with his asthma inhaler. Beverly cracks the monster's head open with a silver slug fired from a slingshot, revealing the bright deadlights underneath. However, before the children can kill It, It somersaults through the air and escapes through a drain in the floor. The group grabs Its arms, only for the glove to rip off, revealing a larger 3-fingered claw that disappears. After arguing and deciding It is dead, the group exits the sewers and make a promise to return if It ever resurfaces.
Mike Hanlon, the only member of the Seven who never left Derry, summons the rest of the group back to their home town. Stan commits suicide rather than face the fear of facing It again. However, this is left ambiguous as the tiles in the bathtub in which he is found are smeared with blood spelling "IT", which may have also suggested It murdered Stan.
As the remaining six congregate in Derry, each has another frightening encounter with It. Henry Bowers, who had been placed in a mental hospital after accepting blame for the child deaths in the early 1960s, escapes under the influence of It (which took the form of the deceased Belch) to take revenge on the remainders of the Seven. After escaping, Henry attacks Mike at the hotel where the Seven are staying and stabs him, after which Henry accidentally and fatally stabs himself during a grapple with Eddie and Ben that saves severely wounded Mike's life. With Henry dead, It is left to complete the task of killing the Losers on its own.
At the hospital, Mike gives Bill the two silver slugs they made to use against It when they were children. Bill gathers the others and declares the slugs are "representatives" of Mike and Stan, thus the "Seven" are now reunited and ready to confront it. Bill's wife Audra follows him to Derry and is captured by It who hypnotizes her by using the deadlights. Bill, Beverly, Richie, Eddie, and Ben return to the sewers and rescue Audra, who has become catatonic. They make their way to It's lair where they discover Its true monstrous, spider-like form.
During the climax, Bill, Richie, and Ben are paralyzed by the deadlights located on Its abdomen. Eddie is grabbed and mortally wounded by It before Beverly shoots out the deadlights with her slingshot and one of the silver earrings. The others tend to Eddie, but he dies in the middle of his last sentence, then the others kill It by disemboweling it and ripping out its heart.
Richie returns to his showbiz career which extends into movies, and partners with a man who acts and behaves much like Eddie. Ben and Beverly fall in love, marry and are expecting a child. Mike is released from the hospital and remains in Derry, but considers whether he ought to move now that Derry no longer needs a "lighthouse keeper" to watch over the town for the monster's return. Bill helps Audra to come out of her catatonia by taking her on a seemingly suicidal bicycle ride impersonating the Lone Ranger, which is something he had done years earlier to help revive a young Stan who was frozen with fear. As the film closes, Pennywise's evil laugh is heard one last time.
- Pennywise / It - Tim Curry
- Ben Hanscom - John Ritter
- Richie Tozier - Harry Anderson
- Mike Hanlon - Tim Reid
- Beverly Marsh - Annette O'Toole
- Bill Denbrough - Richard Thomas
- Eddie Kaspbrak - Dennis Christopher
- Stanley Uris - Richard Masur
- Henry Bowers - Michael Cole
- Audra Phillips - Olivia Hussey
- Officer Nell the Lead Uniform-Cop - Terence Kelly
- Jonathan Brandis as Young Bill Denbrough
- Emily Perkins as Young Beverly Marsh
- Brandon Crane as Young Ben Hanscom
- Adam Faraizl as Young Eddie Kaspbrak
- Seth Green as Young Richie Tozier
- Ben Heller as Young Stan Uris
- Marlon Taylor as Young Mike Hanlon
- Jarred Blancard as Young Henry Bowers
- Gabe Khouth as Victor Criss
- Drum Garrett as Belch Huggins
- Frank C. Turner as Alvin "Al" Marsh
- Sheila Moore as Ms. Sonya Kaspbrak
- Tony Dakota as Georgie Denbrough
- Donna Peerless as Miss Douglas
- Chelan Simmons as Laurie Anne Winterbarger
- William B. Davis as Mr. Gedreau
- Laura Harris as Loni (uncredited)
Differences between the novel and the miniseries
- In the miniseries, we learn that Ben's father is a former U.S. military officer who was killed in action during the Korean War. However, Ben's father is only mentioned in passing as having given Ben his Silver Dollars.
- In the miniseries, Victor and Peter seem to be less morally sympathetic and more willing to go along with Henry's psychotic deeds towards the "Losers" than in the novel (with the one exception of when Henry tries to cut Ben causing Victor to try and tell him not to really cut him).
- The miniseries puts more emphasis on It's "Pennywise the Clown" form as he plays a fairly larger role than he does in the novel.
- In the novel, "It" takes the form of Victor Criss when it visits Henry Bowers in the Mental Hospital, however, in the miniseries, "It" takes the form of Belch Huggins instead.
- The novel takes place in 1957-1958 and 1984-1985. In the film, the story takes place in 1960 and 1990.
- George's death is more violent and explained in the novel. In the film version, George is pulled into the sewers by Pennywise and the next scene cuts to his funeral.
- In the novel, It is revealed to be a female after laying eggs. In the film, this part is omitted.
- The Adrian Mellon murder is left out, instead It comes back killing a little girl.
- The scene where Beverly has sex with all of the boys in the novel is left out in the TV miniseries. The oath of fellowship is however made when each of the Losers take turns taking a puff from Eddie's inhaler.
- Henry Bowers's death is more violent in the novel. In the film, he is impaled through the chest by his own switchblade.
- Some characters such as Beverly's mother, Patrick Hockstetter, Gard Jagermeyer, Marcia Fadden, Eddie Corcoran, Adrian Mellon, Don Hagarty and the Turtle were left out in the TV film.
- The Turtle story entirely was cut out of the film, including the macroverse, the edge of existence, what "It" exactly was, and the force beyond It and the Turtle.
- The downtown part of Derry gets destroyed in the novel.
- In the novel, Eddie Kaspbrak is married to a woman named Myra, who is exactly like his mother. But in the miniseries, Eddie is single and still living with his mom.
- The rock fight is more violent and explained in the novel. But in the miniseries, only Henry, Bev, Victor, Belch, Peter, and Moose get hit by rocks and the rest of the Losers don't get hit by rocks.
- The novel contains more strong language than in the film version.
- In the novel, Richie plays a significantly more important role, in addition to being closer to Bill than any of the other "Losers", he was one of two (along with Bill) in the final fight with It, he also saves Bill's life from the Deadlights. In the miniseries, he is sort of unappreciated.
- In the miniseries, Richie is present at Georgie's funeral, this is not mentioned in the novel.
- In the novel, Eddie breaking his arm and being in a cast is a significant part of the story, but is left out of the miniseries.
- In the novel, Ben sees the mummy and Stan sees waterlogged corpses; in the miniseries, the encounters are switched.
- In the novel, Eddie sees the leper, but in the miniseries, he sees Pennywise while taking a shower at school.
- Peter Gordon and Moose Sadler, two of the less significant bullies of the Bowers Gang, play a much smaller role in the miniseries, only appearing during the rock fight scene against the "Losers."
- In the novel, Richie sees a werewolf at the house on 29 Neibolt Street along with Bill. But in the TV film, Richie sees the werewolf at school while in the janitor center.
- Tom Rogan has a bigger role in the novel. In the novel, he chases Beverly to Derry and is driven by It to capture Audra, Bill's wife and later in the novel, Tom drops dead in shock after seeing It in the form of the Deadlights. In the TV film, Tom stays behind in Chicago without going after Beverly.
- Henry's father, Butch Bowers, doesn't appear in the miniseries. He is however, mentioned by Henry a couple of times.
- The little girl on the tricycle, Laurie Anne-Winterbarger, is attacked and killed by Pennywise in the opening scene of the film, which makes her death start the chain of movie events. In the novel, she is another victim of It, but her death doesn't start the 1984-1985 string of murders.
- Instead of being killed by It as Frankenstein's Monster, Victor and Belch are killed by Pennywise in the form of the Deadlights.
"It" was praised for the acting of the kids and that of Tim Curry as Pennywise, but was criticized for its dragging pace and special effects at the ending, which many consider a "letdown". However, Part 1 is still praised today.
The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc in early 1991 after the film's initial broadcast. The original VHS release had two separate tapes, one with Part 1 and the other with Part 2. A later VHS release contains the entire film on one tape. All VHS releases of the film are out of print and are considered rare as they are hard to find.
The miniseries is now available on DVD on a double-sided disc with part one on the front and part two on the back. The "To be continued..." and the 1st set of closing credits at the end of part one and the 2nd set of opening credits at the beginning of part two (unlike the VHS release) have been removed. It also features an audio commentary by the director and a few of the cast members excluding the film's star, Tim Curry.
The miniseries has been been released on Triple Terror Collection, which also includes The Shining miniseries from 1997 and the Salem's Lot miniseries from 2004. Although the film has been split into two discs (instead of the original double-sided disc), the ending credits from Part 1 and the opening credits from Part 2 are still omitted.
The film is also on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 4:3 and the movie is on a single-sided disc.
On March 12, 2009, Warner Bros. announced that a new adaption of Stephen King's novel had started. Dan Lin, Roy Lee, and Doug Davison are set to produce. The screenplay is currently re-written by Dave Kajganich. On June, 7, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the novel would be adapted into a two-part film, directed by Cary Fukanaga with Chase Palmer as screenwriter. They have yet to name the rest of the cast for the remake, though rumor has it, they've considered casting Evan Rachel Wood as the adult Beverly Marsh and Chloe Grace Moretz as the young Beverly Marsh in the remake.
In 2015, English actor Will Poulter had been announced as a top choice for Pennywise due to the director Cary being 'blown away' by his audition, but he would later drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. As did director Cary Fukanaga sometime later due to clashes with the studio.
In 2016, Argentine movie Director Andres Muschietti known for his horror movie 'Mama' was announced ot be replacing Fukanaga as the director and Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard was announced to be playing the part of Pennywise and the film was announced to be released in September 8th 2017.
- The case cover is a clear reference to The Tommyknockers DVD case.
- Jonathan Brandis, who played the young Bill Denbrough, committed suicide at 27.