Ten other IT films
So you’re desperate to see a movie. A horror movie. But you want to see one with an “IT” in the title. Having an “IT” in the name normally indicates some kind of nameless terror, and automatically sends shivers up your spine. Easily solved surely. After all, that nice Stephen King has just had one of his best novels adapted for the big screen, and that’s called “IT”. It’s breaking all kinds of records and most people seem to love the movie, even that pesky Rotten Tomatoes. But hold on a minute … you suffer from severe Coulrophobia, a mortal dread of clowns. So you can’t possible see Pennywise the Dancing Clown in all his jittery fanged glory! What to do? What to do? Panic ye not. For we are here to resolve this very problem…
Basically that’s our very dumb way of leading into this listing article. Riding on the shoulders of the massive success of “IT” at the cinema, we thought it would fun to list ten other genre films that have “IT” prominently featured in the title, but have nothing to do with the King-Meister or Pennywise. Some you’ll definitely know, one or two you may not… We’ll even tell you how to get rid of the IT in question, so *Spoiler Alert*.
So come along with YGROY and let the “IT” hit the fan…
“IT!” – Released in 1967
Directed by Herbert J. Leder
Yup. There is another movie called “IT!” (NB: note the exclamation mark). The posters of the time were frustratingly vague as to the nature of the menace in the film. Red-hued promos just showed actress Jill Haworth lounging around in lingerie and actor Roddy McDowall screaming, along with a declaration that nothing could destroy “IT”. The alternative titles give something of an explanation though, being “Anger of the Golem” or “Curse of the Golem”. Yes, it’s basically a remake of “The Golem” from the 1920’s, but it’s a bit of an oddity to say the least. A resolutely British horror movie that tried to emulate the Hammer movies of the day … but with a killer statue. It was written by Leder, who also wrote the killer-brain classic “Fiend Without a Face”. Notably it stars McDowall just a year before he went on to play his most iconic role of Cornelius in “Planet of the Apes”.
In 60’s London, Arthur Pimm (McDowall) finds an ugly-ass statue in the burnt-out remains of a warehouse. After some mysterious deaths, Pimm (a museum assistant) finds a Hebrew inscription that will bring the statue to life and under his control. Revealed to be mentally unhinged, he uses it as an indestructible weapon to gain revenge on those that belittle him, but it predictably gets out of control…
Something of a guilty pleasure for this writer, “IT!” is a tonally weird film but has offbeat attractive qualities. McDowall gives a terrifically nervy performance as always, and there are a couple of really spooky and chilling moments; when McDowall’s boss gets killed, and the workman who is suddenly crushed by the falling (but inactive) Golem. However there’s a weird “Psycho” rip-off sub-plot that has Pimm keeping his dead mother in his apartment (which serves little purpose apart from showing how nutty he is). And whilst the Golem looks a little unnerving when it’s still – like a melted candle crossed with Dan Aykroyd’s “Coneheads” and Edvard Munch’s “Scream” painting – it actually looks a little weedy and far from imposing when it’s moving about … even when destroying Hammersmith Bridge. The ending is ludicrously bomb-bastic as well… Still enjoyable tosh though.
Finish IT! - How do you kill something that’s supposedly indestructible? Well, apparently you chuck a nuclear warhead at it! Actually don’t bother, because even that doesn’t work. Mind you, it WILL vaporise the asshole that’s controlling it … and the Golem will simply bugger off into the depths of the ocean … for some unexplained reason.
“It! The Terror from Beyond Space” – Released in 1958
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
This “IT!” is the absolute epitome of classic 50’s sci-fi horror. All the ingredients are there. A scary alien monster, blatantly impossible physics, rickety sets, and endearingly rubbish effects (all by today’s standards of course). Cahn had previously directed the kitsch cult film “Invasion of the Saucer Men”, so this was a perfect follow-up. It was also written by Jerome Bixby, who created episodes for “The Twilight Zone” and “Star Trek”. Populated by familiar B-movie actors, it was reportedly the main inspiration for writer Dan O'Bannon's screenplay for “Alien”! Something which doesn’t sound too outlandish when you check out the synopsis…
In the far-off future of 1973, a nuclear-powered spaceship returns to Earth with only single survivor left on-board. Investigation shows that the crew was picked off in slasher-style by a hideous humanoid creature that sneaked onto the ship from the surface of Mars. The monster sucks the fluids from the living (NB: the original title was “The Vampire from Beyond Space”) and looks like a snarling reptilian cross between a pug dog and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Martian impressively swats aside all manner of attempts to kill it, until the clever survivor figures out how to finally defeat it. Sound familiar?
Although it’s the usual collection of 50’s monster tropes, “IT!” is one of the better ones and good fun. The “Terror” was played by sturdy stuntman/actor Ray "Crash" Corrigan (in his last role), and brilliantly the suit didn’t quite fit him. So his protruding chin was painted as the creature’s tongue! But other than that, the film is actually surprisingly creepy and doom-laden (we already know that most of the crew are going to kick-the-bucket or disappear), and the monster is mostly kept to lurking in the shadows and pouncing when the cast least expect it. Not the best but still a nice example of 50’s genre.
Finish IT! – Electricity, gas, explosions, radioactivity … Nothing seems to stop it. That’s until the survivors realise that this monster has extra big lungs and loves a good dose of oxygen. Therefore it’s trapped in the airlock and destroyed by decompression in the vacuum of space … Hey, wait a minute! Where have we heard this before? Ridley Scott is just continually remaking this film!
“It Came from Beneath the Sea” – Released in 1955
Directed by Robert Gordon
High time for a sea monster. Well before “Jaws”, but just after “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, there was another water-based fiend causing problems for mankind. This one was a whopper though! The film originally played as part of a double-bill with “Creature with the Atom Brain” (which is now largely forgotten), but has developed into a much-loved creature feature for several reasons. Primarily it is known for being the first major collaboration between producer Charles H. Schneer and the special-effects genius Ray Harryhausen. The pair would of course go on to make some of the best stop-motion movies ever put to camera, such as “Jason and the Argonauts” and “Clash of the Titans”. It starred B-movie favourite Kenneth Tobey, who also starred in Harryhausen’s “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms”. This monster was anything but ‘armless though…
A US submarine is suddenly attacked by something enormous in the Pacific Ocean. Later analysis leads some scientists to determine that it’s a gigantic octopus. Whilst the Military does their usual point-and-laugh and oh-you-guys schtick, all manner of sea-going vessels start to disappear. Once Octo-bad finally rears up at a local beach and can’t be denied, it’s determined that the monster was roused from the Philippine Trench (hence the “beneath the sea” moniker) by that good old chestnut of hydrogen bomb testing. Shipping lanes are shut and the US navy put together a master plan to destroy the beast. Not before it gives the Golden Gate Bridge a damned good hug though…
This “IT” is a rollicking good sea-yarn crammed full of creature feature goodness, not least of which is the usual exemplary and innovative stop-motion work from Harryhausen. Randomly the Octopus has only six tentacles, which was genuinely due to budgetary constraints. The SFX artist had only enough time and money to animate six appendages, which led to him calling it a “Sixtopus”. Producer Schneer reportedly commented that no one would notice, and he was proved mostly correct. At any rate, it looks great for a 50’s monster flick, and the scene where the “Sixtopus” attempts to take down the Bridge with its flailing tentacles is now a classic image.
Finish IT! – Despite bombs causing this mess in the first place, of course it’s trusty old atomic powered explosions that will save the day again. The Octopus is driven out to sea by flamethrowers and electricity, before finally succumbing to an atomic torpedo after one last tussle with a submarine. These days we just throw Mega-Sharks at one if it appears…
“It Came from Outer Space” – Released in 1953
Directed by Jack Arnold
Slightly different to most of the “ITs” on this list, inasmuch as this one is not a singular entity and it’s not necessarily a “bad” guy. In fact, the film makes a point of highlighting mankind’s fear of those that are different with some subtle morality. The film's script is based on an original treatment from the iconic sci-fi author Ray Bradbury. It was directed by the great Jack Arnold, just before he made “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man”. Like “Creature”, it was originally released in 3D during the 50’s boom of that format. The film is quite rightly recognised as being one of the best sci-fi films made during that time and contains many themes and scenes that still stand up today.
Amateur astronomer John Putnam (Richard Carlson) spots a fiery meteorite hit the ground in the middle of the Arizona desert. Rushing to the site, Putnam thinks he glimpses a space-craft in the crater before a landslide seals it up. Announcing this to some of local authorities, they openly snigger at him, before some of them mysteriously disappear and then return to town acting differently. Putnam manages to contact the aliens, who are a group of benign shape-shifters. They have captured and impersonated some townspeople with the only objective being the repair of their knackered spaceship. Putnam awkwardly finds himself in the middle of the visitors and the angry townspeople…
Like the earlier “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, this “IT” is quite atypical in its depiction of alien beings. There’s a lovely moment in the film where Putnam compares a colleague squishing a spider, to the gut-reaction to mankind against anything non-human. It’s cerebral without being preachy, and has some damned good spooky effects (with appropriate music). The globular one-eyed aliens are wonderfully horrible, and even the sympathetic hero is unable to look at them directly. This is a gem of a sci-fi horror with a deservedly great reputation. If you’re lucky enough to catch a restored 3D version, it’s even better.
Finish IT! – But we don’t need to! These guys are alright. Sure, they kidnapped a few humans and impersonated them, but they never actually harmed anyone. In fact the only casualties are extraterrestrial, and the collective of aliens are willing to commit suicide rather than let their ship be discovered by the warlike humans. Luckily Putnam protects them and gets them to just go home instead, with some important lessons learnt by both sides. Cue warm fuzzy feeling.
“It’s Alive” – Released in 1974
Directed by Larry Cohen
Okay, so there’s an apostrophe and an “S”, but it’s still very much an “IT”. This was a seminal offering from the offbeat genre filmmaker Cohen, who was responsible for wacky-but-great films like “The Stuff” and “Q: The Winged Serpent”. This film was successful enough to produce two sequels – “It Lives Again” in 1978 and “It's Alive III: Island of the Alive” in 1987 – as well as a remake in 2009. He made it following a couple of Blaxploitation epics and it encouraged him to make other scary movies, albeit with atypical storylines. “Alive” might sound like it’s going to be a “Frankenstein” rip-off, but the concept is much more genius that that. The whole plot can be summarised by three words – Killer Mutant Baby.
In 70’s LA, Frank Davis (John Ryan) and his wife Lenore (Sharon Farrell) are expecting their second child. Lenore was taking new contraceptive medication prior to her pregnancy, and this has had long-lasting and unexpected side-effects on the baby. Born with fangs, claws, and a monstrous visage; it’s gruesome enough for the doctors to try to immediately kill it, rather than just smack it on the ass. Unfortunately this new-born is immediately prepared to defend itself with brutal animal instincts. It slaughters the medics and uses its size and shape to escape and go on … err … the “run”. Torn between his fatherly instincts and the desire to prevent further deaths Franks joins the hunt to stop his extremely young and dangerous offspring…
There’s a lot of cleverness here, particularly with the relationship between the mutant baby and the family. The father is continually torn between his opposing feelings, whilst the mother has overriding maternal instincts. Though the SFX might appear dated now, they were created by noted effects expert Rick Baker and are wonderfully grotesque, with the baby appearing as a gargoyle-like infant. The obvious parallels and overriding bitterness about the Thalidomide scandal is there to see as well. The film didn’t actually become a commercial success until it was re-released after three years, with a brilliant bad-taste campaign that capitalised on the horror boom at the time (“There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby … It’s Alive!!”). An oddly charming and effective horror that’s worth seeking out (not so much with the remake though).
Finish IT! – You monster! Killing a new-born infant that doesn’t know any better! Well, that’s the underlying sub-text anyway. It might look horrible and be extremely agile and quick, but it’s as susceptible to bullets and sharp objects as any living thing might be. Be prepared to defend yourself … and live with your conscience afterwards.
“It Came Without Warning” – Released in 1980
Directed by Greydon Clark
Stop laughing at the back! Luckily this cult-ish sci-fi horror is better known by its more popular (and less hilarious) title of “Without Warning”. But the original suggestive name was also in use, so that’s a good enough validation for us to cover it here. Like “The Terror from Beyond Space”, this movie is at least partially responsible for inspiring a more well-known genre classic. In this case, the alien hunter here is very similar to the title character in “Predator”, with them even sharing the same actor in the extraterrestrial lead role (Kevin Peter Hall). Clark also directed the horror comedy “Satan’s Cheerleaders”, but this was an altogether different kettle of ET’s…
Out in the wilderness a couple of hunters and a scoutmaster are attacked and killed, by things that resemble meaty Frisbees. The hamburger shaped organisms fly through the air and latch onto their victims with tendrils, before sucking their blood … or injecting them with corrosive goo … or something. A group of hiking teenagers also fall victim to the strange critters, with the surviving pair making it to town to alert truck stop owner Joe Taylor (Jack Palance) and village idiot “Sarge” (Martin Landau). It’s not long before the culprit of the Frisbee throwing is revealed to be an extraterrestrial “Hunter” that has to be stopped…
There’s a real 80’s made-for-TV-on-a-low-budget sheen about the film, which is only negated by the occasional flashes of gore with gouged faces and tentacle-stabbing. It contains early SFX from Greg Cannom, who went on to work on “Jurassic Park” and other major films. It’s not exactly realistic, but it’s fun in a schlocky kind of way. It also has a couple of typically great scenery-chewing performances from Palance and Landau. Otherwise it’s pretty much what you would expect, although the denouement and revelation of the “Hunter” is disappointingly lacking. Hall is dressed as a slightly-taller-than-usual “Grey Alien” who just tosses a couple of venomous meat patties and looks a bit cross. He was far more active in “Predator”…
Finish IT! – Easy. Try to avoid the toothy Frisbees, lure him to a shack … and blow the bastard up! Alternatively, don’t avoid the deadly Big Macs, and let your teenage sidekick explode you whilst you distract the bulbous blue-headed asshole.
“It Follows” – Released in 2014
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Now we creep into the modern era with this great little mood-horror. It’s a combination of a chilling what-if scenario and an allegory for STD’s, although to be fair the sexual element of it is just the easiest way to have a deus ex machina for transferring the “curse”. It’s a more insidious version of passing the runes in “Night of the Demon” (1957) perhaps, although the metaphor works exceedingly well. At any rate this chiller from Robert Mitchell is an effectively modern take on dread and fear. It stars Maika Monroe, who has since gone on to some high-profile films like “Independence Day: Resurgence”.
We get a quick glimpse of what “IT” can do, as a girl is mercilessly followed by something that is invisible to others but is corporeal enough to kill her. Meanwhile, Jay (Monroe) has consenting sex with her latest squeeze, only to find that he has set her up to become the target of an unexplained entity. This “thing” (whose origin is never explained) follows its victim, taking on the persona of anybody appropriate, whilst remaining unseen to non-victims. You get a bullseye on your back by having sex with its current target, which passes on the “curse” and the attention of “IT” until it kills you. It only ever moves at walking pace, but can track you to the ends of the Earth. The plot then becomes a morality play of sorts. Does Jay intentionally boink some unwitting guy and survive that bit longer … or does she stand and fight?
“Follows” is all the better for having both an air of mystery (the nature of “IT” is entirely unknown) and one of simplicity (something slow but unstoppable is out to get you). There’s creepy air of the surreal and it’s almost dream-like. Even the era of the story is ambiguous, with gadgets and details pointing both to a timeframe post and pre-millennium. It didn’t work for everybody, but there were so many neat touches and clever genre ideas that it became a cult film almost immediately. The idea that “IT” can take the form of anybody enabled many clever twists and jumps, and it’s a film that remains both smart and scary without insulting your intelligence.
Finish IT! – Difficult to say in this ambiguous film. We learn very little about “IT”, apart from the fact that it’s probably ageless and certainly relentless. Although apparently it is susceptible to bullets, as a shot into the invisible entity seems to do the trick in the final sequence. But having said that, there is a hint at the very end that it just may be immortal…
“It Watches” – Released in 2016
Directed by Dave Parker
One of those films that messes with your head and teases until a final revelation, so the nature of the “IT” concerned is a bit of mystery. The film came from director Dave Parker, who made the cult slasher “The Hills run Red” in 2009, and also the fun “Sweet Tooth” segment in the recent “Tales of Halloween”. In actuality it was filmed a few years before its release date and originally promoted under the name “Coldwater”. Nothing says creepy like an “IT” title though.
Andre (Ivan Djurovic, who also wrote the story with Parker … and owns the most cinematic chin since Bruce Campbell and Kirk Douglas) is dropped off at an empty house in an affluent “hills” area. His buddy was due to house-sit the place, but is now unable to do so and has asked him to take his place. With Andre recovering from a recent car accident and having a busted arm with a mild concussion, it seems like a prime opportunity to take advantage of the lavish house and obey his doctor’s orders to get some rest and relaxation. He knows nothing about the absent owner, apart from his taste for some creepy artwork. As he starts to settle in for the weekend, he becomes vaguely aware of a presence in the house and the feeling that he’s being watched. And it soon becomes clear that someone or something in the vicinity has bad intentions for him…
It doesn’t always work and has had some mixed reviews but actually the film provides some creepy and unsettling moments, that expertly play on the main character’s solitude and fear. The subtle movement of “statues” behind the character is especially well played. The plot plays continually with expectations and provides some genuine chilling moments. That said, the ultimate reveal and the final declaration of what “IT” is, will probably fall short of most people’s expectations and doesn’t quite make sense. But even so, it’s still quite a bit of fun getting there and this is a mostly underrated film.
Finish IT! – As spoilery as we’ve been up until now, we’re not going to give this one away. Mainly because; a) You can’t explain without ruining the whole film & b) The nature of “IT” doesn’t really lend itself to a simple extermination…
“It Came from the Desert” – Release TBC
Directed by Marko Mäkilaakso
Slight bit of a cheat this one, as the film isn’t actually out yet. In fact, according to IMDB, the only scheduled release so far is sometime this year in Finland. But the name is well-known, and the trailer is online … so that’s good enough for us. The latest trailer shows some dirt-biking kids taking on some “giant frickin’ ants” with kitchen utensils, whilst some crusty old geezers look like they get chomped … and there’s a swarm of angry looking spiny gi-ants on the march. So there’s that… Could be fun, although we’ll question as to how far it matches up with the classic videogame.
As regards the game itself, it was a classic at the time when it was released in 1989. Primarily made for the popular home computer Commodore Amiga (ask your grandparents kids!) it was a great strategy/action game from the software developers Cinemaware, who had a big hit earlier with the sci-fi game “Rocket Ranger”. Story-wise “Desert” was a total rip-off of the classic monster movie “Them”, with almost the same plot concerning massive ants overwhelming the Nevada town of Lizard’s Breath, after a meteorite strike causes them to grow. You achieve this by running around the town collecting information, and occasionally partaking in a first-person shoot-em-up (shoot the antennae off!) or downwards scrolling run-away shenanigans. Your objective is to locate the colony and blow up the Queen.
Younger genre fans will probably bust a gut over the dated graphics if they check it out on YouTube, but goddamnit – it was the bee’s knees (or ant’s elbows) back then. Creepy music and fun gameplay, it even inspired a sequel called “Antheads” which ripped-off “The Fly”! It remains to be seen if the upcoming film will capture any of that atmosphere and fun…
Finish IT! – Dunno. The film’s not out yet so we can’t comment. A very large kettle or massive can of “Raid”? If we go by the videogame, you devolve yourself into a group of pixels, penetrate a large ant colony, leave explosives by the Queen … and then lam it out of there.
“It Comes at Night” – Released in 2017
Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Trey Edward Shults' dark, brooding horror-drama is one that left some feeling a bit cold. There is no doubting the credentials of the cast and their performances – or the mature direction of the talented young director, but the ambiguity of what 'It' actually is, put some people off. The storyline itself isn't something particularly original either...
After a contagion has laid waste to the outside world, Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harris Jr) barricade themselves into their secluded country home. We join the family in the midst of tragedy. Sarah's father has been quarantined after becoming infected – and he is soon put out of his misery by Paul and burnt in the woods outside their home.However, the mourning is interrupted one evening when an intruder tries to break into their house. He is quickly disarmed and tied up. The man, Will, denies he is infected with the virus and says that he has a wife and young son and that he was simply trying to find supplies for them. Should they let him go? Kill him? Or invite this man and his family into their home and their lives?
Although it divided audiences somewhat, this is still a powerful and layered film, that is actually more domestic drama than it is horror. Trey Edward Shults treats us to a remarkably mature and assured 90 minutes of film-making. This is a dark movie, both tonally and aesthetically. The sense of isolation and foreboding is as thick as Joel Edgerton's beard – and Shults knows how to create a sense of dread and anxiety from seemingly innocuous scenes and encounters. The promise of a perceived external threat is never fully realised and this will undoubtedly bug a lot of people. However the sheer quality of film-making on display here, along with some fine central performances, mean that it's still worth a watch.
Finish IT! – How do you beat a nameless and highly contagious virus that has seemingly wiped out most of the human population? Oh wait, you can't!