DirectorTommy Lee Wallace
Release Date(s)1990 (October 18, 2016)
Studio(s)Warner Home Video
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: D
It is one of the better Stephen King made-for-TV adaptations. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but it definitely left a mark on those who saw it when it originally aired over two nights in 1990. Like a lot of King adaptations from that period, it’s faithful to the source material in some ways while not being wholly slavish to it.
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, who also helmed Halloween III: Season of the Witch and Fright Night II, It tells the story of Derry, Maine, a small community of people whose children are in danger. A band of kids from the town, now grown, reconvene after many years to face their fears and hunt down the clown that once terrorized them and still haunts their daily lives. But in order to rid the town of this nightmare, they’ll have to find the clown’s lair deep underground and escape, not just with their lives but their sanity too.
One of the interesting things about It is that it manages to capture aspects of childhood more accurately than other similar films. Only Stand by Me, which was also adapted from a Stephen King story, really comes close. That helps the audience relate to the characters over the movie’s three-hour running time. Unfortunately, the first part is far more interesting than the second, and the ending leaves much to be desired. Let’s just say that these characters as children are much more interesting than they are as adults. The film’s darker elements feel a bit silly in that context. Fortunately, Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the clown is absolutely chilling. It’s not only the foundation that holds the movie up, it’s why people still talk about the film all these years later.
Warner’s new high definition Blu-ray of It is a remarkable improvement on the previous home video incarnations in terms of picture quality. It’s in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, pillarboxed with blank space on both sides of the frame. The transfer offers a strongly organic look, with even grain structure throughout, terrific depth and detail, and much more clarity that ever before. The color palette is strong and lush, especially during scenes set in the past, and skin tones are accurate as well. Blacks are deep with good shadow detailing, and brightness and contrast levels are excellent. There are no apparent signs of digital enhancement, nor is there much in the way of film artifacts other than very mild speckling. This is absolutely the cleanest and clearest presentation of the film to date. There are a number of audio options in different languages to choose from (as this is a region free release), but the main presentation is English 2.0 DTS-HD. It’s a solid enough track, with clear dialogue, strong sound effects, and plenty of room in the mix for the score. There’s also some occasional directionality and ambience. Subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish, and other languages.
The only extra available on this release is an audio commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace and actors Dennis Christopher, Tim Reid, John Ritter, and Richard Thomas, carried over from previous DVD release. Unfortunately, Part One’s end credits, as well as Part Two’s opening credits and opening scene, are still absent, which leaves an awkward cut in the middle. None of the trailers or network TV promos have been included here either, although they do exist and can be easily found on YouTube.
Whether or not the original It will be outdone by the remake currently in the works remains to be seen. Regardless, the original holds up fairly well, succeeding, at least in part, with good performances, nightmare imagery, and a creepy but excellent score. Warner’s Blu-ray release of It leaves a little to be desired, but the A/V presentation is excellent and worth your time.
- Tim Salmons