Stephen King’s IT Retrospective

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HIYA GEORGIE!

On September 8th, 2017,  The Losers’ Club and Pennywise hit theaters for the first time.  Although it’s only been less than a month since then, it feels far behind us enough – especially in these fast times we live – to look back at already.  (Anything after two weeks is a lifetime in the age of information.)  Naturally, comparisons were, are and will be made to the original TV mini-series that aired on ABC in 1990 because while not technically a movie, it’s the only other visual based on Stephen King’s novel.  After all, Hollywood refuses to make anything original anymore so what fun would it be if we didn’t make connections while we’re forced to watch different versions of already existing intellectual property?  There’s basically no other choice.  Basically.  HOWEVER! …It’s ok.  It’s perfectly fine this time because IT was, for the most part, remade for the better and it was glorious.

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As a horror lover who has never read the novel and completely missed out on the mini-series all the way until AFTER the 2017 movie trailer was released, I had no idea what IT was about, really.  The combination of Pennywise’s pop culture relevance and the quality of Stephen King’s bibliography and their film adaptations suggested that I probably should have watched this already.  Unfortunately, those things were also exactly what created expectations for me.  As much as I hate to say that there was a presumed threshold of quality I felt this mini-series needed to meet for me to justify its impact, I certainly could not deny the underwhelming sour taste of lackluster I was left with once it was over.

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The first half of this two-parter was perfectly fine.  A shapeshifter that exploits the phobias of a group of children, mainly in the form of a creepy clown, is such a great concept because young kids are susceptible to being consumed by their fears.  That’s exactly what we got in part one.  I thought, “This is perfect pacing.  First half’s to become familiar with the characters, second half’s for straight clown terror.”  I was excited to start part two immediately and was let down just that fast.  Then I was let down again, and again, and……..”OH MY GOD! THAT ENDING WAS EGREGIOUS!”, I thought to myself.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a classic?

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The only thing classic here was Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise.  He is unrecognizable in that makeup and even through all his goofy actions, the character is genuinely scary.  Curry made me understand why so many people fear clowns on a deeper level after a lifetime of just chalking it up to their seemingly predatory appearance.  I could only imagine what watching this as a child can do to your psyche.  Sorry y’all went through that, 80’s babies.  Clowns are officially no longer allowed 50 yards from me.

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Curry’s awesomeness alone isn’t enough to captivate the audience for more than 3 hours though.  Neither can the fun mini-game we all play of pointing out familiar faces when we watch old stuff.  “Oh, it’s Annette O’Toole, a.k.a. Lana Lang from Superman III.”…”LOL what are you doing here, dad from Sister, Sister?” … “Wait, is that…?  Holy crap, that’s Seth Green!  He’s so young there!”  The unexpected use of the N-word made for some heavy drama but that wasn’t gonna cut it either.

Not-So-Fun Fact: Did you know that John Ritter, who played Ben and Jonathan Brandis, who played Young Bill, both died in 2003?  Eerie.  Brandis through suicide by hanging.  So sad.

Do you see the problem here?  I’d rather talk about the things surrounding IT than the mini-series itself.  There’s also a lot to laugh at while you watch but most of it is unintentionally funny, almost to the point of making you want to create a drinking game for it.  Out of the second part’s 90-minute runtime, only about 10 were enjoyable.  The parts where the original airing took commercial breaks weren’t even edited in the home release.  A lot of IT just flat-out sucks, unfortunately.  It made all the sense in the world why so many were excited this year about the theatrical release of a remake.

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Every trailer I saw for the new IT was convincing.  The formulaic approach of overusing the cliché jump scare and other repeated tactics made familiar in high-budget horror movies was apparent in each one.  Yet, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case because while not completely sold on Bill Skarsgård’s version of Pennywise, I sensed this film would be solid at best compared to the previous one.  How could it not be?  I found myself at an early screening with a friend 3 days before the release date and no more that 5 minutes into it, the tone was set.  The opening scene was gruesome!  The scene after that was a “Try Not To Look Away Challenge” for animal lovers.  In just the first 10 minutes, I was flabbergasted by how far the limits were pushed in a movie starring a bunch of child actors.

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For how graphic the images were and continued to be throughout the entire film, the comic relief and performances connecting them were just as potent.  The cast was nothing short of fantastic, the majority of them too young to apply for a learner permit in most states.  Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things fame managed to play a different character in what many people worried to be just a mirror image of his role in the Netflix Original series.  His portrayal of Ritchie acting as more of an inappropriate joke dispenser than Seth Green’s version of the character in the mini-series begged to differ from that notion.  He brought a freshness to the role and his energy bounced right off the other characters perfectly.  The chemistry was there and it felt like they were regular kids you can identify with, which helped me relax and let my guard down enough to be startled by a majority of the scary moments the movie had to offer.

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This movie is dark!  Not for kids at all.  While the 90’s version included language and images not suitable for children, this version is strictly geared toward an adult audience even with its comparatively covert horror tropes. There’s no doubt about which one was more frightening and it all comes down to Pennywise.  In not necessarily a better depiction, Bill Skarsgård’s version is without a doubt the more emotionally scarring of the two.  While Tim Curry’s Pennywise evokes nervous laughter with typical goofy clown mannerisms and underlying creepiness, Skarsgård’s eliminates any uncertainty about the intentions of a stalking clown with a sinister smile that instantly assures “It” is not to be trusted.  New Pennywise is spine-chilling.

One scene in particular was so disquieting, my eyebrows shot up, my mouth fell open and my face would not relax until the next scene.  There’s something to be said about a horror villain that still finds its way in a 26-year-old horror fanatic’s mind, causing neck-snapping glimpses over the shoulder while walking the dog late at night long after the movie is over.  Call me irrational for half-expecting to see a clown standing still, staring at me from across the street; the image of Pennywise’s face flashed before me continuously to the point of unreasonable slight paranoia.

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With such a short period between my first viewing of the 1990 TV mini-series and the 2017 film’s theatrical release, I personally, almost involuntarily favor the latest adaption of Stephen King’s IT.  Critically acclaimed remakes are uncommon, rare even, placing this ubiquitously positively reviewed flick in a special class.  Chock-full of comic relief, effective scares, impressive performances across the board and an abundance of 80’s references and easter eggs, this awesome revision of the coming-of-age story is a delight, especially, but not exclusively to viewers already familiar.  A much needed upgrade from the antiquated visuals once believed to be definitive insures horror fans, including Stephen King, the IT re-imagining we deserve.

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The Dopeness: TV Dramas

These shits right HERE?!!  Dopeness.  Keep in mind, these are dramas.  They contain a lot of emotion which naturally requires good acting.  That’s what draws me in.  Not the amount of deaths, sex scenes or adultery going on.  The acting that convinces you into thinking for a short moment that what’s going on in the screen is actually real.  I’m only mentioning shows I’m watching at the moment.  Let The Flames Begin!

Friday Night Lights

Obviously, this show is about football.  But then again, it’s NOT about football.  It’s about the lives of those who affect other people’s lives by playing football, coaching & cheer leading.  THEN it’s about football.  The acting ain’t all that except when it comes to Coach Taylor.  He’s the man.  It’s a good show.  You don’t have to like football to enjoy it.  It can be inspirational for anyone.  I’m only just finishing Season 1, so I can’t speak for the entire series.  So far, it was enough for me to want to watch all five seasons.  Also enough to make me want to be in a football team.  “CLEAR EYES!  FULL HEARTS!  CAN’T LOSE!”

The show ended in 2010, so it’s available in its entirety on Netflix.  WIN!

The Walking Dead

Zombie shows and movies never really satisfy me with anything other than zombies being dismembered and decapitated left and right.  That’s what i sat and watched the series premiere of The Walking Dead for.  And unexpectedly, I got MORE than that.  Along with great makeup, blood and guts everywhere… this show is carried by great actors.  The character development, what some might consider filler moments, is as good as the zombie killings.  The suspense, realism, and revelations in this show are fulfilling even when it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to.  Not all questions are answered but what’s the fun in knowing everything?  Season 2 finished recently and it was CRAZY!  Can’t wait for the next.

As of now, only Season 1 is available on Netflix.

Grey’s Anatomy

Imagine someone’s life slipping away right in front of you.  And you have to find out why they’re dying, how to save them and how much time you have before it’s too late.  On top of that, your future job as a surgical resident depends on how you perform and handle the situation.  Then go through the same thing or worse the next day.  Being a doctor is NOT easy.  This show does a great job at portraying that.  It’s also good at glorifying their hectic schedules resulting in co-workers doing “the nasty” in the on-call rooms to relieve stress.  Oh yeah! This show is dope as fuck!  It’s humorous, tragic, educational and sexy at the same damn time!  Every mid-season and season finale is a butt clencher.  If this show was a rock band, they’d be named “Intensity In Ten Cities”.  Eight whole seasons, still going strong.

Seasons 1-7 available on Netflix.  MARATHON!

Breaking Bad

Just look at the picture.  Big ass containers filled with the purest crystal meth and a butt load of cash.  *Hails*  YOU’RE THE MAN, MR. WHITE!  EVERYTHING about this show is just perfection.  Before you go judging it by the picture, just don’t. Watch that shit!

Walter White’s job is to teach chemistry to a bunch of disinterested high school students.  After work, he goes to work….at a car wash.  This, along with a bunch of other bullshit, makes Mr. White realize how much his life sucks.  And then he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  The struggle came crashing down on this poor man.

I feel like I said too much already.  Just look at the picture.  Why does he look like a boss, you ask?  Well….just put Netflix on and start watching NOW.  The 1st 3 seasons are available.  It’s the father from Malcolm In the Middle for crying out loud!  Bryan Cranston is excellent!  That goes for the entire cast as well.  Season 5 begins tonight and my sphincter is tight with anticipation.  And don’t you even dare land on AMC when you’re flipping through channels later tonight.  You gotta watch from the beginning.

Breaking Bad is easily the best show on television.  No question.

There you have it.  The dopeness that I currently am subjecting myself to.  For the record, every one of these shows have given me some serious goosebumps.  The kind you get when you watch a blockbuster movie in IMAX.  … Yup.  Dopeness.

Alright guys.  Hope you take heed to the dopeness I’m trying to supply y’all with in confidence.

OUT!   *ghost rides whip into tornado*