Saturday, July 9, 2011

IT: Float On

I really hate clowns. And I hate the person who invented clowns. Clowns happen to be the worst, just the worst. Well maybe not THE worst. I think the worst thing in the world is old people breath. Am I right?

Here's the thing about IT. I've never seen the whole thing before. It's like my brain gets sucked into the beginning and all of its Pennywise glory but then because it's too long, my mind wanders off in search of something more useful that I can do with my time. Like, eat, sleep or file my nails. In fact, I've seen the same hour and a half of IT about 20 times and still until quite recently, never knew how it ended. I never knew that the giant spider people talked about was real. I never knew the outcome of everything. And most importantly, I never knew how many different ways Pennywise could scare the shit out of me.

As far as clowns go, Pennywise is probably the scariest. I still refuse to believe that Tim Curry is hiding inside there. I will believe until my dying day that that is a real clown-monster with an appetite for ripping children's arms out of their sockets. It just seems like the practical thing to do. One of my most memorable moments of being scared out of my wits was watching that scene where Pennywise comes to life in that old photograph. It was an unexplainable moment of total fear that only worsened once Harry Potter came out and reinvigorated the moving photographs phenomena. Why is Pennywise so scary? Do I really need to ask that? Clowns are scary period. But a clown with razor sharp teeth and a creepy unidentifiable accent? FUCK THAT.

IT focuses on a group of kids known as the Losers Club. This is quite fitting as you will see, although in my opinion the real scope of their loser tendencies does not flourish until they reach adulthood, but more on that later. The Losers Club all have one thing in common. They have all encountered the terrifying monster Pennywise the Clown. An evil clown that embodies whatever it is that the children fear the most. IT follows the group through their childhood, where they temporarily banish the beast away, to their adulthood when they find that the monster is back. Thanks to a pact they made as child, the Losers Club must form again and destroy IT for good.

I have this problem with TV miniseries based on Stephen King novels. My problem is that they kind of annoy me. Yes, a lot of Stephen King's novels tend to be HUGE long novels, epics even. But in my opinion, when these huge novels are adapted into miniseries---they tend to fall flat. Why? Because, people feel that EVERYTHING needs to be included. This is a problem for me. Both IT and Salem's Lot suffer the misfortune of having some truly memorable and brilliant scenes, lost amongst 2 and a half more hours of boringness. The difference between a movie and miniseries is that the events in the movie have to be contained in that hour and a half (sometimes 2 hour) running time. With a miniseries, there is so much extra, so many unnecessary plot details that the whole thing becomes bogged down. Of course, the idea of the miniseries is that it is spread out in increments which I'm sure would have solved this problem. But miniseries on DVDs do nothing t0 help this.

What I'm getting at here is that IT has its moments. And these are amazing moments of pure fear and thrills. These moments however to me are all I really cared about. Once again, like how I felt after Salem's Lot, I feel that IT could actually benefit from a remake that does some major editing. Don't get all mad at me, it won't accomplish anything. IT is good, but it's not great. Some of the acting and a lot of the writing is not great. Plus, Bill Denbrough's ponytail and large mole really do nothing to help the situation at all.

I would also like to state for the record that IT makes as much sense as Phantasm and its sequels. There is so much glossed over in this, which is surprising seeing as how it's 3 and a half hours long. You would think that somewhere in there they could explain a little more about IT. I also wish that that thing about the adults somehow being in on everything really came to fruition. How awesome would it be, if IT acted as a Hot Fuzz type of plot, where the adults in the community were somehow the real cause of it all? Or SOMETHING awesome like that. We'll keep it in mind for the remake. I have a strong feeling that a remake of IT will act like The Shining. Keeping the important, the atmosphere of the novel but adjusting it to actually work as a film. I feel like one of the main reasons Stephen King adaptions ultimately fail is because people expect the novel. STOP DOING THAT! I'm guilty of it too at times, but when it comes down to it---you need to separate the book from the film.

Now, back to the Losers Club. Wow, what a bunch of losers huh? I mean as adults of course. I think if possible, they were actually way cooler as kids but what do I know? I used to wear high heeled jelly shoes. This band of adults though....really embarrassing. And again, I think it's mostly the writing but that little montage of Bill and Mike on the bike....embarrassing!

I would also like to add how irksome Pennywise is as something to be scared of. He's everywhere and he's always popping up whenever you least want him to. Not that there would ever be a good time to pop up but you know. And those balloons. I've never come across a film that instilled so much fear in its viewers by using balloons.

IT has done it though.

Overall, IT has its moments and I wish that all those moments could somehow be pooled together in one movie without it being 4 hours long. There's so many great scenes. The sewer scene with poor little Georgie, the old woman scene (which I had never seen before!),

the bursting blood bubble in the bathroom sink,

the moving photograph, the part where Ben makes out with Pennywise! I mean, there are A LOT of scary moments in IT, and tons of moments that have probably stuck with people for their whole lives. So when all is said and done, I can't knock IT too much can I? Sure, the spider scene is kind of ridiculous, and the ripping out of its vital organs seems a little over the top at best. But come on, Pennywise. PENNYWISE. The scariest clown in the whole world? Nothing can really beat that.

Side note: Did you know in the novel, after the kids escape and wound Pennywise the first time, all the boys take turns sleeping with Beverly? What the shit is that about?


matango said...

I haven't seen this since sometime in the 90s. I don't know if I ever saw the whole thing either, but I do remember the spider thing.

I completely agree with you on the novel vs. movie thing. If it's a good movie, people shouldn't rag on it just because it doesn't match the book exactly, or at all. The movie can even be better than the book. Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick's versions > Philip K. Dick's and Stephen King's.

Andre Dumas said...

YES. People get so wrapped up in Stephen King. I always get punched in the gut at least once when I mention that I think he's "okay". I still maintain that he creates more characters than he knows what to do with. Per novel I mean. Oh well what do I know...other than EVERYTHING.

ao! said...

Warner Bros. claim a re-make is coming out later this year, Tim Curry was so creepily great i wonder who could ever replace him. and this also reminds me of where my fear of balloons stems from. what a great concept, but i agree, just like the book, the movie was way too long. and beverly should have probably gotten an STD somewhere along the way.

The Mike said...

I enjoy King for his passion and his willingness to create his own creepy ass universe, but yeah...the horror stuff that's specific to his Maine world does not transfer to screen (there's a strong correlation between good movies based on King stuff and King stuff that isn't totally confined to that smalltown Maine thang, I think). And yes, it is because people try to catch every detail, which is like when someone tries to explain how awesome Snake Plissken is. I mean, sure, I want to see what happened with Snake and Brain in Cleveland, but you have to sacrifice for the story to fit into a normal runtime. King's not good at sacrificing, and his adapters(?) (excluding Darabont) are worse.

I also kinda think Pennywise is overrated, but that's probably just me and my insane love of Clownhouse.

Dod said...

As much as an influence Stephen King was on my own writing (hell, I read The Shining in three days as a 13-year-old one summer), I will agree with the "too many characters" point. Over the years, I've really enjoyed his simpler, shorter stories.

"It" was loads of fun on the back of Tim Curry - he is the definitive Pennywise.

I feel like I haven't commented in a while, so I must say again, another great review, Andre! You're definitely one of my favorites to read!

April said...

I still can't walk past one of those storm grate things without expecting a clown to pop out from it or something to grab my feet. And I'm 31 years old. This movie scared the sh*t out of me (I read the book after seeing the movie).

And in regards to the movie vs. novel issue, I find that as long as I can watch the movie not expecting it to be like the novel, I'm usually good to go. But some of the adaptations sucked regardless (maybe because the stories weren't so hot to begin with?).

Chris Hewson said...

I wonder how Kubrick would have approached IT, seeing as he did such a great job with The Shining (as well as a great job separating the book from the film).
As for the scariest clown in film, it's not Pennywise, it's something far, FAR more Terrifying...

CashBailey said...

IT is probably my favourite book of all time.

The series had some good stuff with the kids but everything else was dogshit.

That some bozos in Hollywood want to make a feature film out of this book is as stupid as making a feature out of THE STAND.

BRENT said...

I always judge this movie on the spider. It was cool up to that point but once the spider came out it fell to pieces. It was areal anti-climaz after a really cool and scary build up.
I'm not a Stephen King fan. That point you make of the kids screwing is an example of why I don't read his books anymore. He always has to put in the obscene. The Stand was let down by constant masturbating scenes. Just gross for the sake of being gross.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

I tried reading the book again recently and believe me, reading IT is like being forced to do homework for 2 weeks straight. It is such a chore! 400 pages in and you still have a long way to go. That being said, I totally understand the challenge of adapting it, even in a 4 hour miniseries. And I really don't think it was that successful for me. The production value is so BAD in this and, I'm sorry, I can't stand any of the acting. Maybe the girl who played Beverly as a child was the only highlight. Pennywise didn't even scare me. And that spider. OH THAT DREADFUL SPIDER. More funny and ridiculous than scary on what is supposed to be the ultimate representation of the evil of "it."

Something the miniseries was also lacking was the overall feeling of fear and death and misery amongst the people of Derry and how Derry is pretty much an evil place at its core. That element stuck out a lot to me in the novel and I didn't feel it at all in the adaptation.

No one believes me when I tell them that Beverly slept with all the boys at the end! Definitely crazy and out there, even for SK. I don't like to ever have to use the phrase "prepubescent gang bang"..... but seriously. Isn't that kind of what it is?