A Nightmare for all Ages
The film follows King’s novel pretty closely. In it, a group of pre-teen outsiders, The Loser’s Club to local bullies, band together to fight an otherworldly creature that’s killing kids in the small town of Derry. The first half of the novel covers the kids’ battle with IT and apparent triumph, the second half zips forward 27 years to when the grown up Loser’s Club return to Derry once more to do battle with IT.
It’s a huge undertaking and ABC’s two-part serial was an understandably big event. A decades-spanning horror story, IT would be the first TV adaptation of King’s work since Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot in 1979. Written by Lawrence D. Cohen, the man behind De Palma’s classic King adaptation Carrie, and directed by Halloween III’s ambitious Tommy Lee Wallace, the project had a buzz. ABC weren’t being cheap, either. The $12 million budget was a crazy amount of money to spend on a TV serial, but love of the source material and confidence in its ability to bring in viewers was not consistent.
IT appears to be a difficult property. Like New Line’s troubled 2017 update directed by Andres Muschietti, the ABC-produced 1990 TV movie saw production issues stemming from a loss of faith. A story about a cosmic terror that can shape-shift and likes goring kids is a tough nut to crack, especially