On November 18, 1990, 17.5 million households tuned in to watch the premiere of Stephen King’s IT on ABC.
It was a landmark event, adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen, who had previously written the screenplay for the big screen adaptation of King’s Carrie starring Sissy Spacek, and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), and was responsible for more than a few cases of coulraphobia in my generation.
The series was originally planned for four two-hour blocks with George Romero attached to direct. However, after the run time was shortened and the filming schedule changed, Romero had to leave the project due to scheduling conflicts.
Unfortunately the shorter run time also meant that Cohen had to cut out massive portions of the 1100 page novel, keeping only the barest essentials to tell the story visually.
For those who don’t know…does anyone not know?…It tells the story of a group of children known as the Loser Club who go to battle against an ancient shapeshifting entity who takes on the visage of their fears in order to feed on them. After seriously injuring the beast as children, they must come together again three decades later as adults in order to defeat him once and for all.
Shot over three months in Vancouver, the film featured some of the biggest television stars of the day playing both versions of the Loser Club. Seth Green, Richard Thomas, Annette O’Toole, and John Ritter were just a few of the names attached to the miniseries.
And then there was Tim Curry who, almost literally, chewed the scenery as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, though Malcolm McDowell and Roddy McDowall were both considered for the role.
The miniseries is not perfect. As a matter of fact, when viewed while removing the lens of nostalgia, it’s actually problematic in places.
Still, it holds a special place in the dark hearts of horror fans everywhere, so much so that many balked at the idea of the new adaptation which premiered in 2017 and its sequel which is scheduled for release next year.
What were your favorite moments in 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s IT? Let us know in the comments!