As you are surely aware, Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel It is being adapted into a movie this year under the direction of Mama alum Andres Muscietti. The film, due out in September, will not be the first time King’s classic has gotten the page-to-screen treatment, though. Back in 1990, ABC aired a two-part TV miniseries following the work and featuring a now-iconic performance from Tim Curry as the Stephen King story’s main antagonist, Pennywise the Clown.
The miniseries was rather divisive. On one hand, most people love it because of the chilling atmosphere it delivered. On the other hand, previously reported the Inquisitr, most Stephen King fans despised it because it left out so much of what made King’s 1,100-page book so special.
Even those who did not particularly enjoy the It miniseries, however, have to admit that it does have a few scenes that are pretty effective. We thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of these scenes in preparation for the new film that has brought Stephen King back into the mainstream. Since seven is referenced as a lucky number throughout Stephen King’s bibliography and since there are seven members of King’s Losers’ Club (the name given to the main group of protagonists), let’s count down the top seven.
Also, we will not include the scene where Georgie meets Pennywise in the storm drain because it’s just unfair to the other scenes. It’s like putting Barry Bonds in a little league game. Anyway, on with the list.
- “Mrs. Kersh”
This scene occurs during the latter half of the miniseries when Beverly Marsh returns to the house where she grew up. She finds it is now inhabited by a kindly old lady named Mrs. Kersh, who treats Beverly to tea. Like in Stephen King’s work, though, the scene does a great job of giving the audience the feeling something is very wrong before anything really hits the fan. Sure enough, Mrs. Kersh gradually turns into a horrible crone, the tea Beverly is about to drink becomes blood, and the scene ends with Pennywise itself taking Mrs. Kersh’s place. Believe it or not, Stephen King does an even better job of making this scene terrifying in his novel, but the televised version is extremely creepy too.
2. Laurie-Anne’s Death
This is the opening scene of the miniseries and the only scene on this list that does not appear in Stephen King’s novel. It opens with a little girl on a tricycle singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” which is an awesome foreshadowing of the spider and the storm drains that will play large parts later in the story. It doesn’t take long for Pennywise to show his face and abduct the little girl in one of the few actions that would make the villain appear genuinely threatening like he did in Stephen King’s original. The film certainly puts its best foot forward to kick off its roughly three-hour runtime, as the scene immediately establishes a creepy and Stephen King-esque tone.
3. Richie in the Library
This may be the most famous scene from the film other than Georgie’s encounter with Pennywise because it allows Tim Curry to do so much. We are talking about the scene where an adult Richie Tozier returns to the Derry Library and sees Pennywise, along with a bunch of blood-filled balloons that burst on unknowing library patrons. Sure, in Stephen King’s book, it was Ben Hanscomb and Mike Hanlon, not Richie, who return to the library as adults. Sure, the acting by the extras in the library is fairly awful — you can see them flinching when the balloons that supposedly only Richie can see or hear a pop in front of their faces. Still, the insanity of Curry’s performance and Stephen King’s haunting idea that Richie is the only one who knows this chaotic horror is going on make the scene extremely memorable.
4. Fortune Cookies
Like in Stephen King’s envisioning, the Losers reunite at a Chinese food restaurant called Jade of the Orient when they return to Derry as adults. Also, like in King’s work, the fortune cookies they get at the end of their meals burst open and each reveals a different horror inside. The scene is a highly effective gross-out scare on Stephen King’s part, as thinking about what might have happened if the Losers had bitten into their cookies will give even the most hardened Stephen King fans a chill. The scene is made even scarier when it is demonstrated that, like in the library scene described above and the bloody sink scene described below, the Losers are the only ones who can see what is going on. The musical score played during the scene does a good job of amping up the tension Stephen King created, too.
5. The Deadlights in the Pipe
This scene caps off the first part of the miniseries, and it’s a great way of tempting audiences to come back for part two. It occurs in the sewers, when Henry Bowers and Belch Huggins are about to kill Stan Uris, and it results in Belch’s death. Lots of people, Stephen King fans or not, criticize the special effects used in the miniseries, but this scene is an exception. It’s pretty strange, so give it a watch to get the full impact.
6. The Bloody Sink
This is the second entry on this list that takes place at the home of Beverly Marsh, but it occurs when Bev is still a child. In the scene, blood explodes out of a balloon in the drain of Beverly’s bathroom sink and she is the only one who can see it. The idea that no one can sympathize or even empathize with Bev because they do not know the blood is there is pretty terrifying, and that helplessness is one of the major scare tactics Stephen King employs throughout It.
7. Cartwheeling Down the Street
Again, this scene is so great because, apart from being some great horror writing courtesy of Stephen King, it gives Tim Curry a chance to shine. The Losers are flipping through Georgie’s old photo album when they come across a black and white photo of a city street. The contents of the photo begin moving, and Pennywise appears. He slowly approaches the photo’s foreground before jumping onto a lamppost and delivering the famous Stephen King monologue that includes the line “I’LL KILL YOU ALL.”
These scenes were all great, but will re-envisionings of them be included in this year’s adaptation of Stephen King’s masterpiece? We know that the scene with the blood bursting from the sink will be, because we caught a glimpse of it in the teaser trailer released for the film last week and viewable below. We know that the photo album scene won’t as it looks like it is being replaced by the projector scene, also shown in the teaser trailer, a result of the movie’s setting in the 80s rather than the 50s, as Stephen King wrote it. The remainder of the scenes mentioned above are still a question mark. Can Muschietti and Bill Skarsgard, the actor cast to portray Pennywise, pull them off like the 1990 version did and make Stephen King himself proud?
Stephen King fan or not, what are some of your favorite scenes from the 1990 miniseries? And what scenes do you particularly want to be included in the upcoming film?
[Featured Image by HillaryWhiteRabbit/Deviant Art]