Next to playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry’s second iconic role would be in this two-part mini-series based on one of Stephen King’s most terrifying novels to date.
In the year 1960 in the small town of Derry, a group of youngsters find themselves being bullied by a gang of greasers. They become known as the Losers Club. They consist of Ben, Richie, Eddie, Bill, Beverly, Stanley, and Mike. However, the greasers are the least of their problems. Some of the local kids in town have been falling victim to a mysterious presence who uses a disguise of a clown by the name of Pennywise. Pennywise feeds on the fear of his victims before ultimately killing them. However, the Losers Club prove themselves worthy and have stood up to Pennywise, causing him to disappear. The leader of the greaser gang, Henry Bowers, confesses to the murders and is sent to mental health facility.
Thirty years have passed and it is clear that Pennywise has returned and is back to wreak havoc in town again. Mike, who is now a librarian, has asked his old friends to return upon discovering Pennywise is back. Bill has become a horror novelist. Ben is an architect. Beverly has become a fashion designer. Richie is a late night comedian. Eddie runs a limousine service and Stan is a real estate broker. Five of the group return but Stan, haunted by the events of old, kills himself. When Henry, having fallen under the spell of Pennywise, injures Mike in a fight, the remaining five former Losers now must face their fears once again and put an end to Pennywise’s reign of terror.
This two-part ABC mini-series was first unleashed in 1990 and would go on to do for clowns what Jaws did for the water and even, what Texas Chainsaw Massacre could have possibly done for meat. The reason in mind is that it is not crazy enough that we have a demon disguised as a clown, but when you have the likes of Tim Curry playing said demon clown, then you know you are going to be in for a complete shock and scare.
With this being a made-for-television movie, the film, unlike many horror films, doesn’t rely on the clichéd gore and adult manner that are a trademark of the genre. Instead, the fact is that Curry truly makes this a terrifying film in terms of scares with his amazing performance of the demon clown Pennywise. Curry meshes both a comedic performance when necessary but brings the scares just as much, especially when part of his true face is revealed.
As for the actors who make up the Losers Club, they are great in their performances. The adult characters for the most part seem to have their own issues and knowing how adult issues can be fearful, Pennywise tends to use the former heroes’ fears to his advantage. In a very disturbing scene, Harry Anderson’s Richie goes off the deep end when he sees Pennywise causing chaos in the library. Richard Thomas’s Bill is great as well as in a sense, he must play an avenger who seeks the means to once again, get revenge for his brother’s death against the demonic clown. The finale has some technical issues at first, but knowing we have Stephen King here, it fits quite well here.
It is definitely intense for a TV movie thanks to the driven performance of Tim Curry in what is considered his second iconic film role with a great ensemble to help support him. A theatrical remake is set for next year to bring more of Pennywise’s terror in the form of Bill Skarsgård as the demonic clown.
WFG RATING: A
ABC Television presents a Green-Epstein Productions/Konigsberg-Sanitsky Company in association with Lorimar Television and Warner Bros. Television. Director: Tommy Lee Wallace. Producer: Matthew O’Connor. Writers: Lawrence D. Cohen and Tommy Lee Wallace; based on the novel by Stephen King. Cinematography: Richard Leiterman. Editing: David Blangsted and Robert F. Shugrue.
Cast: Tim Curry, John Ritter, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, Richard Thomas, Richard Masur, Annette O’Toole, Tim Reid, Brandon Crane, Jonathan Brandis, Emily Perkins, Marion Taylor, Ben Heller, Seth Green, Adam Faraizl, Olivia Hussey.