In my excitement for the upcoming film adaptation of It, it has definitely appeared to some readers that I’ve come down pretty hard on the 1990 miniseries. But that simply comes out of my love of the book and a deep-rooted wish that people would give the new movie a chance. I still have incredibly fond, nostalgic memories of the 1990 miniseries. I grew up with It. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it. I was about nine years old, sick, lying in bed and my dad came in with a stack of tapes he’d just rented from Movie Gallery. He handed me this two-tape behemoth and said, “That ought to keep you busy for awhile.”
I watched the whole thing, completely transfixed. I was mesmerized by the fact that this was about kids that were my age going up against a monster. There was something very empowering about that to see as a child. But I was also completely terrified. The shots of Pennywise’s face, eyes yellow, opening his mouth to reveal rows of pointed teeth—those scenes haunted me. I didn’t outstretch my legs out of fear that Pennywise would pop up in the bed and bite my toes off.
That miniseries has a lasting impact. There’s a reason it will always be fondly remembered, even if it is rough around the edges. Tim Curry’s performance is legendary. The kids do a pretty strong job for the most part, as well.
With that in mind, here are seven moments from the miniseries that I still love!
Henry Bowers carving his name into Ben’s stomach
Henry might not get to finish carving his name into Ben’s stomach, but it’s the intent that makes it scary. It shows how far Henry is willing to go, how much he’s willing to make another kid suffer for a moment of embarrassment. It sets up everything to come with Henry’s character, as this scene makes it easier to believe that this bully is eventually willing to murder seven children without batting an eye.
Richie’s encounter with the werewolf in the basement
So this scene might not hold up as well, but it was a favorite of mine as a kid and I definitely still have a fondness for it. I was a big werewolf nut—and still am—so to see It take that form was definitely cool, especially with its slightly updated I Was a Teenage Werewolf design. Plus, it’s neat to think that a young Seth Green tormented by werewolves in It would one day go on to play a werewolf in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Beverly’s bloody sink
The blood pouring up from the drain is obviously unnerving, but the commentary is what really makes it creepy. As the bubble is about to burst, Beverly hears the voices of all of Derry’s missing children, which they reiterate for her by chanting “We’re all the dead kids.” It’s one of the scarier moments, especially seeing it at a young age. It’s also followed by a really nice moment in which the whole gang has to help Beverly clean up the blood because her father can’t see it. It’s a great way to show that they’re on their own, but Bev’s relief when she realizes her friends can see what she sees is pretty heartwarming.
Ben sees his dad by the Barrens
It first appears to Ben Hanscom as his father, who died several years earlier, standing on top of the water outside the Barrens. I’ve always loved this scene for the moment when It reaches up out of the water to grab at Ben’s leg, now looking like his dad’s rotting skeleton. It’s one of the creepier scares and one of the best FX creations of the miniseries. Who doesn’t love a good rotting skeleton?
Beverly visits her old house
The only scene on this list that comes from Part 2 of the miniseries—which really lags in comparison to the first half—this moment occurs when Bev tries to return to the house she grew up in in order to reconnect with her father. Instead, she meets the old woman who now lives at that address. Things take a turn as the old woman turns out to be something of an old witch, similar to the witch in the story of Hansel & Gretel. The best moment, though, is when Beverly runs from the house only to look back and see that it’s condemned and that no one has lived there in years.
“It was supposed to be Bev”
This is not a scary sequence. In fact, it’s the biggest moment of hope for these kids that they can actually succeed in their plan to kill It. They have a limited supply of silver slugs and each take turns using the slingshot to practice for their eventual encounter with Pennywise. None of them, even Bill, the leader, is a remotely good shot. And then Bev steps in, and she’s a perfect shot. It’s awesome that the only girl in the group is also the only one who can actually use the only weapon they have. It’s a very powerful moment.
Georgie’s encounter with Pennywise
There’s no way this could ever not be the biggest moment. It’s still scary, powerful, this is the inciting incident of the story and there couldn’t be a better way to hold the audience’s attention. Most importantly, it’s also the first time that viewers are introduced to Tim Curry’s unforgettable performance as Pennywise.