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IT (1990)

    October 29, 2024


   Sturges-Young Center for the Arts

   Main Stage/Theatre


Additional Information

It (also known as Stephen King’s IT) is a 1990 ABC two-part psychological horror drama[1] miniseries directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen from Stephen King‘s 1986 novel of the same name. The story revolves around a predatory monster that can transform itself into its prey’s worst fears to devour them, allowing it to exploit the phobias of its victims. It mostly takes the humanoid form of Pennywise, a demonic clown. The protagonists are The Lucky Seven, or The Losers Club, a group of outcast kids who discover Pennywise and vow to kill him by any means necessary. The series takes place over two different time periods, the first when the Losers first confront Pennywise as children in 1960, and the second when they return as adults in 1990 to defeat him a second time after he resurfaces.

Cast members included Tim Curry (Pennywise), Richard ThomasJohn RitterHarry AndersonJonathan BrandisTim Reid and others. Produced by Green/Epstein Productions, It was filmed over a period of three months in New Westminster, British Columbia, in mid-1990 with a budget of $12 million, double the usual television budget. The miniseries was first broadcast during the November sweeps month. Despite the risk factors, mixed pre-airing critical reviews, and coverage of President George H. W. Bush‘s foreign trips cutting into the program, It was ABC’s biggest success of 1990; the miniseries pulled through with a total of 30 million viewers for its two parts.

It was nominated for two Emmy Awards, one Eddie Award, one Youth in Film award, and a best miniseries recognition from the People’s Choice Awards; it won two of the nominations, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for Richard Bellis‘ score and an Eddie Award for the miniseries’ editing.

While divided critical perspectives towards It have continued in later years, the miniseries has become most known for Curry’s version of Pennywise. In fact, his portrayal has been considered by several publications to be one of the scariest clown characters in film and television. It has also spawned an Indiegogo-funded documentary film about the miniseries’ production, titled Pennywise: The Story of It (2020); and an alternate history sequel short named Georgie, also by the producers of the documentary


During a heavy rainstorm in Derry, Maine, in the spring of 1960, George Denbrough plays in the streets with a paper sailboat made by his stuttering older brother, Bill. It goes down a storm drain, where Georgie encounters Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise entices Georgie to reach in to retrieve his boat, only to tear his arm off and leave him to bleed to death. A few months later, Bill and asthmatic Eddie Kaspbrak befriend the chubby new kid Ben Hanscom. They are later joined by Beverly Marsh, who lives with her abusive father, and she and Ben are introduced to Bill and Eddie’s other friends: the comical Richie Tozier and skeptical, Jewish Boy Scout Stan Uris.

Ben develops feelings for Beverly, and sends her an anonymous poem, but she assumes the poem is from Bill and develops feelings for him. At school, by the creek, and around town, they are all bullied by Henry Bowers and his greaser gang. The children all have grotesque, frightening encounters with Pennywise. In July, the group is joined by Mike Hanlon, an African-American boy, as Bowers’ gang chases him. The children, now dubbing themselves the “Losers Club”, fend off the Bowers Gang with rocks. While looking through Mike’s History of Derry school project scrapbook, the Losers realize that Pennywise, whom they refer to as “It”, is not a human being but an ancient creature that awakens roughly every thirty years to hunt and feed.

Realizing that It killed Georgie, Bill leads the Losers into Derry’s sewers to kill the creature. Stan becomes separated from the group and is ambushed by Bowers and Belch Huggins. Belch is killed by It who has also already killed Victor Criss (who had separated from the group to set up an ambush), and Henry is left traumatized, his hair shocked white. Stan regroups with the Losers in a large sewer drainage chamber. The chamber fills with fog as the seven join hands to form a circle, their united strength, but the circle is broken when Stan is grabbed by It. The Losers take advantage of It’s ability to access and use their imaginations against It. Eddie imagines his inhaler is full of battery acid, injuring half of the clown’s face, then Beverly slingshots silver earrings at It, which seems to ‘break’ Pennywise’s head open, his light force seeping out. Wounded, It flees down a drain, where the kids hear moaning, and conclude It is dead. The group exits the sewers, but vows to return should It ever return. Bowers, now insane or possessed from It’s deadlights, confesses to the child killings and is institutionalized.

Thirty years later, in May 1990, It kills Laurie Ann Winterbarger in her backyard, signaling another awakening and feeding spree. Mike, the only one to stay in Derry, contacts his old friends to fulfill their oath after hearing reports of missing children. All of the Losers, who have gone on to have successful careers, return, except Stan, who cannot bear the thought of returning to Derry to fight It, and commits suicide. The other Losers reunite in Derry, later learning of Stan’s suicide. Upon returning, they are all taunted and terrorized by Pennywise. Bowers, with It’s help, escapes from the asylum to murder the Losers. Bill’s wife, Audra, travels to Derry but is captured by It, hypnotized by the monster’s “deadlights”. Bowers attacks and stabs Mike, but fatally stabs himself with his knife when Eddie and Ben rush in to save Mike. Mike is hospitalized, and he gives Bill the two silver earrings he retrieved from the sewers ten years ago. The five remaining Losers return to the sewers to confront It, where Bill realizes that It has Audra.

They reach It’s inner sanctum, see the catatonic Audra engulfed in spiderwebs, and discover It’s true form of a gigantic, otherworldly spider. Bill, Ben, and Richie are entranced by the deadlights emanating from It’s underside, while Beverly retrieves the silver earring she overshot. Eddie attempts to repeat the wound he inflicted on It as a child, but is grabbed and mortally wounded. Beverly frees her friends, but Eddie dies. The others follow the injured demon spider, finishing it by ripping out its heart and crushing the heart. They remove Eddie’s body and the catatonic Audra from the sewers. Mike recovers in the hospital, explaining how the Losers go their separate ways once again, their memories of It and each other fading over time, save for his journal; Beverly and Ben get married and are expecting their first child, and Richie is cast in a film. Bill is preparing to leave Derry, but pulls Audra out of her catatonia by riding her down a street on “Silver”, his childhood Schwinn cruiser.

In a prehistoric veld, a tribe of hominins is driven away from its water hole by a rival tribe. The next day, they find an alien monolith has appeared in their midst. The tribe then learns how to use a bone as a weapon and after their first hunt, return to drive their rivals away with it.

Millions of years later, Dr. Heywood Floyd, Chairman of the United States National Council of Astronautics, travels to Clavius Base, an American lunar outpost. During a stopover at Space Station 5, he meets Russian scientists who are concerned that Clavius seems to be unresponsive. He refuses to discuss rumours of an epidemic at the base. At Clavius, Heywood addresses a meeting of personnel to whom he stresses the need for secrecy regarding their newest discovery. His mission is to investigate a recently found artefact, a monolith buried four million years earlier near the lunar crater Tycho. As he and others examine the object and are taking photographs, it emits a high-powered radio signal.

Eighteen months later, the American spacecraft Discovery One is bound for Jupiter, with mission pilots and scientists Dr. Dave Bowman and Dr. Frank Poole on board, along with three other scientists in suspended animation. Most of Discoverys operations are controlled by HAL, a HAL 9000 computer with a human-like personality. When HAL reports the imminent failure of an antenna control device, Dave retrieves it in an extravehicular activity (EVA) pod, but finds nothing wrong. HAL suggests reinstalling the device and letting it fail so the problem can be verified. Mission Control advises the astronauts that results from their backup 9000 computer indicate that HAL has made an error, but HAL blames it on human error. Concerned about HAL’s behaviour, Dave and Frank enter an EVA pod so they can talk in private without HAL overhearing. They agree to disconnect HAL if he is proven wrong. HAL follows their conversation by lip reading.

While Frank is outside the ship to replace the antenna unit, HAL takes control of his pod, setting him adrift. Dave takes another pod to rescue Frank. While he is outside, HAL turns off the life support functions of the crewmen in suspended animation, killing them. When Dave returns to the ship with Frank’s corpse, HAL refuses to let him back in, stating that their plan to deactivate him jeopardises the mission. Dave releases Frank’s body and opens one of the ship’s airlocks with his remote manipulators. Lacking a helmet for his spacesuit, he positions his pod carefully so that when he opens the pod’s airlock, he is propelled by the escaping air across the vacuum into Discoverys airlock. He enters HAL’s processor core and begins disconnecting most of HAL’s circuits, ignoring HAL’s pleas to stop. When he is finished, a prerecorded video by Heywood plays, revealing that the mission’s actual objective is to investigate the radio signal sent from the monolith to Jupiter.

At Jupiter, Dave finds a third, much larger monolith orbiting the planet. He leaves Discovery in an EVA pod to investigate. He is pulled into a vortex of coloured light and observes bizarre astronomical phenomena and strange landscapes of unusual colours as he passes by. Finally he finds himself in a large neoclassical bedroom where he sees, and then becomes, older versions of himself: first standing in the bedroom, middle-aged and still in his spacesuit, then dressed in leisure attire and eating dinner, and finally as an old man lying in bed. A monolith appears at the foot of the bed, and as Dave reaches for it, he is transformed into a foetus enclosed in a transparent orb of light floating in space above the Earth.

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