Stephen King’s IT Retrospective

thumb-1920-787294

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.

maxresdefault

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.

maxresdefault

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?

index

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.

tumblr_of9qiaxH8W1tr6ni8o1_500

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.

tenor

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.

landscape-1490698430-it-the-losers-club

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.

it-bill-skarsgaard-pennywise

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.

it-teaser-trailer-spicypulp

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.

Advertisements

#ScaryMovieADayMonth 2016 (Days 11-20)

Back again like Beanie Sigel trynna scrap again. Not putting up a good fight this time around is what I mean. I’m not with the scary shits that much right now. I can barely sit through a half hour show this week. If you thought the last post was short, this recap can’t even get on the kiddie rides at Six Flags.

Day 11: Knock Knock (2015)

So I’m watching Knock Knock and I’m like, “wait….where’s the horror? This is a fucking sexual fantasy.
And wtf is up with Keanu Reeves’ nipples no homo? They look like pepperoni with pimples.”
I swear, Keanu never shook that dumb ass Bill & Ted meat head trait. Am I the only one that thinks he might be slow? Keanu’s acting suuuuuucks with the exception of maybe two scenes and even then, his lines are ridicuolus.

Still, this is the easiest bad movie to watch. The two girls that show up and take over the whole movie are fucking gorgeous. Lorenza Izzo is the reason why I wanted to watch it in the first place.
This movie is barely horror. It’s whore-or.

Day 12: Squirm (1976)

The amount of worms used in this movie is over the top. I have to imagine hundreds of worms got stuck under the actors’ shoes. Disgusting.
They had some fakes in there but when they show the real ones up close, it’s a little much. … and why does the score have lyrics? This shit got a soundtrack? Oy vey!

But it doesn’t matter cuz this movie is ass.

Day 13: The Shallows (2016)

Blake Lively aka Mrs. Deadpool. You know what? She can cry. I enjoyed it. Movies that take place in one location might be my favorite. The setting is established and the rest of the movie focuses solely on character dynamics. Hell, the setting IS a character. Especially when they’re kept to a minimum. Even the shittiest film can have a captivating performance. Just gotta set it up. This wasn’t a brilliant movie but it made me root for Lively’s character Nancy. It was thrilling. I had myself a time with this one. Thanks, Redbox.

Day 14: Holidays (2016)

Watching anthology horror films is basically watching a commercial-free hour block of Goosebumps for adults.
If one short is trash, who cares? It’s only like 13 minutes long. Had to cuz Lorenza Izzo is bae. I was surprised to see the Epic Meal Time guy in a movie. Handful of familiar names here. Kevin Smith, his daughter Harley Quinn Smith, the very talented Jocelyn Donahue, Seth Green and a bunch more. Some shorts were weird or dumb, some were good. At least watching this, you don’t need to commit. It’s not tied with a bow at the end. It’s like a handful of holiday themed YouTube videos thrown in one collection and given a title.

Day 15: The Monster Squad (1987)

“I know you are but what am I?” Who didn’t say this as a kid?
This was a quick watch, really short. There are some genuinely scary moments here despite being a comedy about a group of kids. Overall, this is legitimately a funny, cute, scary movie. Perfect way to spend a chilly October night. Watch this movie right here. Not to beat a dead Mr. Ed but it was the 80’s, man. Even the shitty stuff was worth watching. No worries here, though. The Monster Squad is a blast.

I’ll steal what Chad Gilbert from the band New Found Glory used as a tagline for his showing of this movie in his theater for his Movie Gang event. “If you liked Stranger Things, you’ll love Monster Squad.”

Day 16: The Visit (2015)

This movie is CHILLING. I didn’t think this movie would be what it is but I’m glad it’s not what i thought. OLD. PEOPLE. ARE. CREEPY. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.
So I’m watching The Exorcist episode 4 and the grandma from The Visit makes a cameo as a nun and I almost wanted to stop watching. I was like, “Naaaah. NOPE. I’m out.

To me, she’ll always be the grandma from The Visit. I could do without the little boy’s cringeworthy raps but everything else was really good. M. Night Shyama-llama-ding-dong, I’m impressed.

Day 17: Don’t Breathe (2016)

YO. I just want Jane Levy and Sam Raimi to keep making movies together. Don’t Breathe had me on the edge of my seat. It’s one of those movies with a lot of grey area. Nothing is clear-cut. The victim isn’t obvious here. And that’s why it’s brilliant. You don’t take sides 100% …. until you take a side. Shit like this is why I sit through all the garbage. I only hope to run into a gem like this every now and again.

Here’s a quick trivia straight from IMDB to show you what I mean.

*”It’s shit like that” drop*

Day 18: Christine (1983)

“TTFN …. ta ta for now” This was the lingo in the early 80’s. Sound familiar?
Anyway, so I’m watching Ash Vs. Evil Dead,  and in the most recent episode, a possessed car goes crazy and starts killing people. So you know what I said. I said, “Fuck it, I’ll watch Christine next.” This is the OG of possessed cars.

It’s a cunt hair too long. Some scenes go on for a bit too long, could’ve been perfect if it was 10 mins shorter. It’s John Carpenter though so obviously it’s good. Some scenes made me in 2016 go, “How did they do that?” Seriously. The visuals they created with the effects they went with were impressive even by today’s standards.

Day 19: The Last Horror Film (1982)

Excuse to see boobs. Joe Spinell, certified fucking creep in this one. Sign of the times, quality wise. The gore was iight. There are some swerves in this one though. I can imagine this blew some minds at the time. Now, it’s nothing new.

Day 20: Bloody April Fools (aka Los Inocentes) (2015)

My soul was dying, it was 5 am, and I had to get a movie in.  Browsed Netflix and saw “1hr 8mins”. That’s literally the only reason I chose to watch this low budget film from Spain. No clue it was gonna be all in Spanish until it was rolling.
This was everything you’d expect an indie horror to be. Maybe two OK moments, some humor, a semi-twist, blood, swearing and sex. This shit is a slow motion jog away from being a boob fest. No matter what this movie is though , I can’t be mad at it. It’s as long as an episode from a Netflix original series. I don’t care.

Oh, thank God. I got these in right on time. I’m gonna go die now.

TTFN. *ties lasso to my life jacket & shark fin while wearing boxing gloves*