See It Instead: IT (2017)
We pick three flicks you should see instead of IT. Although you should still see IT…instead?
This week’s big ticket item is the silver screen adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. While we plan on bringing you a review of the latest King adaption (and hoping against hope that it winds up on our Best Stephen King list instead of the Other List of his movies we don’t talk about) we thought you might appreciate some alternatives, seeing as this may actually be the busiest weekend at the movie theater we’ve seen in months.
It may seem like our list is missing the obvious contender – the IT television mini-series starring Tim Curry. While that is a ton of cheesy fun, we’ve already covered that classic seven ways to Sunday. This time around, we’ve rounded up 3 new offerings that are equally enjoyable, and that we haven’t discussed to death!
In the small town of Derry, Maine, people -especially children – disappear at twice the national average. Most of the populace sweeps this horrible fact of life under the rug, but the children know that they’re losing friends and siblings at an alarming pace. A gaggle of misfit kids who have all been affected by the tragedy band together to find out what is stalking the youth of Derry. They discover that a supernatural horror dwells underneath Derry and lives off the terror of children.
The Serious Pick: Stand By Me (1986)
Over Labor Day weekend in 1959, four young friends have a childhood defining adventure. As narrated by one of the friends many years later, the trouble started when the youths found the body of a missing kid. Trying to figure out what to do, they run afoul of a local bully and his gang, get chased by a secretive junk yard owner with a fierce dog, and have to handle the usual tribulations of being constantly ignored by the adults in their lives.
Based on a short story by Stephen King, Stand by Me is one of horror meister’s rare dramatic offerings. As such, it stands in excellent company with other great films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Maximum Overdrive. OK…maybe not that last one. Featuring a young cast of soon-to-be cautionary tales about Hollywood youth (Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Keifer Sutherland and John Cusack…yup, pretty much just missing a Charlie Sheen or Emilio Estevez on this list!) this film is redolent with small town nostalgia like only King can whip up. If you don’t like scares but want to see a group of misfit kids overcome evil (in the form of a greased up bully) then Stand By Me is a fine flick to stroll down memory lane with.
The Lighthearted Pick: The Monster Squad (1987)
Under the cover of suburbia, classic monsters like the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Creature from Black Lagoon, and others are preparing to take over the world at Dracula’s behest. Against these creature feature rejects is a group of kids who have studied the Universal movie monsters and think they can go toe-to-claw with Drac and his ghoulish gang.
The Monster Squad is a cult classic that never gets the same respect as other genre favorites such as The Goonies, Lost Boys, or Gremlins. The film is lovably cheesy, the monsters are all hamming it up like the best golden age B-movies, and the special effects are actually great – thanks in no small part to Stan Winston. Winston was a practical effects guru who worked extensively with James Cameron on legendary flicks like Terminator and Aliens, and other classics like Predator, Edward Scissorhands and The Thing. If you like the kids versus monsters genre that was surprisingly busy in the 1980’s, you should check out The Monster Squad, a fine little flick that answers the age old question: does the Wolf Man have nards?
Answer: Yes. The Wolf Man has nards.
The Unconventional Pick: Channel Zero – Candle Cove (2016)
A child psychologist who lost his twin brother as a youth is compelled to return to the small town he fled. In the 1980’s he and his brother were part of a group of kids who experienced odd events centered around a UHF television show called Candle Cove. This pirate show, on a pirate TV station, showed at random hours on random channels. As the kids got sucked into the creepy show, some of them started going missing while others started acting out in violent ways. Thirty years later, the show has begun airing again and the grown ups who survived the first wave must discover its source or watch their own children become victims.
This original series from SyFy is based on a different urban legend each season, and they nail the creepy pasta origins of their source material. The first season really echoes much of the flavor and pacing of King’s IT, though the setting is more cornfields than abandoned mill buildings. The acting is very good (though the psychologist character starts out pretty wimpy and bland) and the series has a solid production value. When the scary stuff starts to fly, it is a horrifically good time. The good news is it is available on most streaming services for a small fee, and on September 20th the second season arrives to terrify you with a brand new urban myth.