For a television adaptation of a biblically long, gruesome and perverse novel, the 1990 version of IT holds together remarkably well. The two-part mini-series is still highly regarded by a generation of horror fans as one of the scariest films of their childhood. Watching it as an adult, some of the production values and television editing stand out as less than stellar (and that spider at the end, sheesh), but for my money, IT still works far better than it should considering the dense source material. As we wait with baited breath for the bigger budget theatrical adaption of the novel to hit screens next year, lets discuss the 4 most frightening scenes of the original adaptation that still work today.
4. Fortune Cookies
My favorite aspect of the IT creature is its ability to warp and screw with a person's perception of reality. Some of the things I find scariest in horror stories is not being able to tell what's real and what's in your head. IT can affect the world around you and only you can see that affect. The true horror is knowing you aren't crazy and not being able to prove to it. Seeing the world as you know it altered beyond anything rational is a concept I find endlessly frightening — which brings me to the first scene on this list.
Our heroes, now adults, have just enjoyed a great time reuniting after 30 years, only to have IT crash the party. The fortune cookies they receive at the end of their meal reveal unique horrors to every character. A spray of bright red blood, cockroaches, an eyeball, some kind of claw creature, a tiny bird fetus (the most disturbing) and what is most likely some sort of spider (IT foreshadowing its true form?) leg. This is the kind of sudden shattering of normalcy that I find most frightening about IT's powers and that's why this scene makes it on the list.
3. Clown In The Sewers
Probably the single most iconic scene of the film — and for good reason. If there is one thing director Tommy Lee Wallace and his crew can be given due credit for, it's bringing certain scenes from the novel to life with near perfect clarity. The scene of little Georgie encountering Pennywise in the sewers is ripped from the novel. The surreal nature of it is so immediately off-putting that the viewer is automatically on edge before anything overtly scary happens. The image itself is like something plucked from the collective nightmares of children everywhere. I can't wait to see how the new film handles this scene.
3. The Opening Scene
Yes, so two of my picks are from the opening minutes of the film, but hey, a scary scene is a scary scene. I'm still impressed with how quickly this scene creates an uneasy mood for the rest of the film. The slate gray sky threatening an oncoming storm, the wind, the odd sense of isolation, the quick glimpses of Pennywise in the sheets; it's all great stuff. Not many horror films can succinctly set up such a palatable unease so wonderfully, and this is a made-for-TV production from 1990. It's a small scene, and one without any special effects. But as we all know, horror is often the most effective when it's done simply.
1. Beverly Comes Home
This is easily the most well-mounted freak out in the whole film. It expertly builds a tone of disquiet with one odd and eerie incident after another. The sense of something not being right is introduced slowly only to have it explode with one of the more macabre encounters with IT in the entire film. Just when you think the scene has reached its climax it throws one or two more twists in just to mess with your mind a little more. Watch the scene for yourself and see what I mean. It's a perfect scene and better to experience it firsthand than having me explain it to you!
Like brutal deaths? Check out the most bizarre killers in the Movie Pilot original video below:
Who is your favorite scary clown?