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Film / It (1990)

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"They float... and when you're down here with me... you'll float too!"

It is a 1990 supernatural horror TV movie adapted from the horror novel of the same name by American author Stephen King. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory shapeshifter which has the ability to transform itself into its prey's worst fears, allowing it to exploit the phobias of its victims. It mostly takes the form of a sadistic, wisecracking clown called Pennywise. The protagonists are The Losers Club, a group of outcast kids who discover Pennywise 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 Pennywise as children, and the second when they're called back as adults to defeat Pennywise, who has resurfaced.

A career-defining role for Tim Curry, this miniseries scared a generation of kids (and adults) when it came out.



It provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Hero: Beverly recalls being cornered by the Bowers gang one time and harassed, but they ran scared when her father suddenly walked up. She refers to it as the only time she can remember being glad to see her abusive father.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Patrick Hockstetter, Adrian Mellon, Butch Bowers, The Ritual of Chud and even The Turtle are just some of the very important elements that were removed from the miniseries, likely due to the time constraints involved in adapting such an incredibly long work.
    • Eddie's wife Myra is left out of the film and he's unmarried. He also admits that he's a virgin, which was not the case in the book because he, along with the other boys, rather notoriously had sex with Bev.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Ben is blond in the books but his adult self in the film is brunet. Beverly and Audra are redheads in the books (and it's implied that Bill married her because she resembled Beverly). Both are brunettes in the film.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • In the novel, Henry's way of making Ben remember not to mess with him is to carve his name onto his stomach (he gets as a far as "H" before Ben kicks him and escapes). He does this in the miniseries as well except he never explicitly says that he's going to carve his name and it's not clear unless you've read the book that's what he intends to do.
    • It is never explained in the film why Pennywise appears as a dog to the security guard Koontz, and can be a bit jarring and without context. In the novel, it's explained that Doberman Pinschers are the only animals that he is afraid of.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Odd example. In the book Richie nicknames Eddie 'Eds'. In this he nicknames him 'Eddie Spaghetti' or 'Spaghetti Man'.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Ben's younger self is much cuter than he's described in the books. He's Hollywood Pudgy at best, hardly comparable to Giant Haystacks.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Slightly, Beverly's father is strict to the point of abuse, and his yelling at Beverly for unknowingly courting a secret admirer reeks of Slut Shaming...but unlike the book or the 2017 adaptation, there's no sign that he's jealous of said admirer.
  • Adaptational Nationality: In the book Audra is an American actress who moved to the UK and has a hybrid of an English and American accent. In the film she appears to be just British.
  • Age Lift: In the movie, the gap between the events is made into 30 years, instead of the book's 25. So the Losers are in their late thirties in the book and early forties in the film.
  • All Webbed Up: In the film adaptation. Some of IT's victims are webbed up for later eating after their brains are broken by the Deadlights.
  • Badass Boast: Pennywise, when Bill shouts at Bev to "kill it":
    Pennywise: Kill? ME? Oh, you are priceless, brat! I am ETERNAL, child. I am the EATER OF WORLDS, and of children—and you are next.
  • Basement-Dweller: Adult Eddie is still living with his mother in this version, though their house is not the same.
  • Bloodless Carnage mixed with Getting Crap Past the Radar: Since the movie version was made for television, most of the actual deaths weren't shown in very graphic detail. Most instances in which the filmmakers were allowed to include blood took place during It's illusions, in which it bursts from balloons, erupts from a sink, and spills from containers, but never leaves a human body or is referred to as such. The idea that it even is blood is up to audience assumption. Exception: Just before the flashback of The Losers cleaning up Beverly's bathroom, she refers to it as blood.
  • Cassandra Truth: Richie, after seeing Pennywise manifest himself as a werewolf in the cellar, runs upstairs to the canteen and tells everyone he's seen a werewolf. Naturally, almost all the kids laugh their butts off, while Stan, still intensely skeptical of everything that's going on, shakes his head, probably thinking Richie is making an ass of himself. The rest of the Losers' Club, however, just sit in silence as the only people who believe him.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The movie. It's pretty hard to stuff over a thousand pages of story into a movie. Most agree that Tim Curry was memorable as Pennywise, however.
  • Corpsing: When Pennywise laughs at his own "Prince Albert in a Can" joke, a man in the background (who shouldn't be able to see him) is visibly grinning and in all likelihood, trying not to laugh.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Pennywise the Dancing Clown's theme from the film version is more Soundtrack Dissonance, but even a happy carnival tune just feels creepy because of that association.
  • Deadly Euphemism: During his childhood, Ben has a bizarre encounter with It, who masquerades as his late father while standing in the middle of a swamp in front of the sewer entrance, claiming that the sewers are his new home. It gradually transforms himself into Pennywise while inviting him to come down with him to the sewers, where he will "never have to grow up".
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Tom Rogan has a larger role in the book. After Beverly leaves him, he attacks her friend Kay to get her whereabouts. When he arrives in Derry, he's possessed by It and kidnaps Audra into the sewers. The film leaves this out and Tom disappears from the story once Beverly walks out on him.
    • Lesser than most examples, but Stan's wife Patty gets an entire chapter from her POV detailing some of her backstory and how she met Stan. Naturally in the film she only appears briefly in Stan's introductory segments.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • After getting Mike's call, Ben remarks to his current girlfriend that killing himself might be preferable to going back to Derry. Little does he know that Stan felt similarly and would act on it.
    • After Pennywise causes the blood in the sink, Beverly panics and tells her father. When she realizes he can't see the blood, Beverly claims she just got scared by a big spider. Technically, she was.
  • Driven to Suicide: Stan decides to kill himself rather than face Pennywise as an adult, slitting his wrists in the bathtub and writing the word "IT" with his own blood.
  • Epic Fail: Eddie during the final showdown in The Movie: "This is battery acid, and now you disappear!" It doesn't work this time, and he nearly gets eaten alive.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Pennywise has his/Its moments in the novel, and Curry really goes to town in the movie (while still being quite horrifying..)
  • Ms. Fanservice: Beverly, most notably when she gets a call from Mike.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: "Excuse me, sir! Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well, you better let the poor guy out! WUHAH! WUHAH! WUHAH!"
  • Lighter and Softer: Some of the nastier elements of the book are downplayed or only implied in the film. Beverly's fight with Tom is far more graphic in the book - where she ends up dropping an entire mirror on him (in the film, he goes down when she hits him with a jar).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ben has this reaction when his love note leads Beverly's father to yell at her and send her running form the house crying.
  • Offstage Villainy: Pennywise, for obvious reasons.
  • One-Book Author: Ben Heller, who played the young Stan, only did this one film.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: While Tim Curry does a pretty solid job retaining Pennywise's gruff Brooklyn accent, his natural British accent does occasionally slip in, most noticeably during the clown's final scene ("Go! Now... for if you stay, you'll lose your little mind in my deadlights, like all the others... like all the others...")
    • I thought that was an intentional choice. At that point Pennywise was dropping the clown act and soon after reveals his ‘true’ spider form. So it may not have been Tim Curry’s accent slipping, but Pennywise’s accent and human facade.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: For obvious reasons, (in that they are all around eleven years old), the scene where the six male members of the Loser's Club have sex with Beverly in succession (It Makes Sense in Context) is omitted from the visual adaptations of the book.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: While they already were love interests in the book, things end on a Maybe Ever After for Ben and Beverly. The film ends with them marrying and having a baby.
  • Race Lift: Minor case. In the book Bill's wife Audra is a white American just living in the UK. In the film she seems to be British, and she's also played by Argentinian actress Olivia Hussey.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Losers Club consists of a stuttering storyteller, an asthmatic mama's boy, a wisecracking prankster, a chubby poet, a skeptical Boy Scout, a token girl, and a token minority.
  • Run or Die: When the Losers return to Derry as adults, Pennywise appears before each of them, warning them to get out while they can. IT explicitly states to Richie that he and the rest of the Losers are too old to stop IT now. Later, when they enter the sewers at the film's climax, IT warns them again to leave by threatening to drive them all insane.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Tom Rogan, Beverly's abusive husband, or boyfriend as he's portrayed in the film. In the book he travels to Derry looking for her and gets possessed and later killed by It. This is left out of the film so presumably Tom is still alive.
    • Eddie's mother has been dead for some years in the present, and Eddie is married to a woman just like her. In the film however she's still alive and Eddie is still living with her in the present.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: During their first encounter, Pennywise takes the form of Ben's dead father and immediately after the boy had a fight in his new home, no less. Ben is overjoyed to see his dad again before realizing something is wrong here.
  • Younger Than They Look: Henry Bowers is only in his forties in the 1990 portions but has aged badly due to the trauma of seeing his friends killed.

Once you come down here, you'll float too!


Example of: