‘Sometimes dead is better’
Pet Sematary – aka Stephen King’s Pet Sematary – is a 1989 supernatural American horror feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. It was directed by Mary Lambert (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid; The Attic; Urban Legends: Bloody Mary) from a screenplay by King who also has a cameo role as a minister.
The movie stars Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Blaze Berdahl, Miko Hughes, Fred Gwynne (The Munsters), and Andrew Hubatsek.
A sequel, Pet Sematary II, was was also helmed by Mary Lambert but met with less financial and critical success.
In 2018, King’s novel was again adapted into a movie for a 2019 release.
The Creed family moves into a new home, close to a road where high-speed truckers often carelessly drive by. They befriend their neighbour Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) who tells them about a pet cemetery nearby.
Later, Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), working at the University of Maine at Orono health center, treats Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist), who’s been hit by a truck and has incurred massive head injuries. He dies on the examining table, but not before suddenly grabbing Louis, addressing him by name, and uttering a mysterious and cryptic message. He also promises to “come to” him. That night, in what is seemingly a dream, Victor visits Louis, warning him about the burial ground beyond the pet sematary. Louis wakes up to find his feet covered in dirt.
Church, a British Shorthair cat owned by Louis’ daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), is run over by a truck on the road in front of their house while Rachel (Denise Crosby), Ellie, and Gage (Miko Hughes) are in Chicago. Jud takes Louis to an ancient Micmac Indian burial ground beyond the pet cemetery they visited earlier. He buries the cat underneath a cairn.
Church is brought back to life, but is an evil shell of himself. He attacks Louis and reeks of decomposition. Jud tells Louis about the grounds. Louis asks if a person was ever buried in the grounds. Jud is clearly upset by the question, knocks over some beer bottles, and forcefully exclaims “Christ on His throne, no. And whoever would?” But that is a lie, as Jud later reveals to Louis…
“The plot alone would make for a scary movie, but by injecting excellent atmosphere, capable acting and generally nightmarish scenes, Pet Sematary is a truly effective horror flick and well worth the price of admission.” Bloody Disgusting
“Pet Sematary marks the first time Stephen King has adapted his own book for the screen, and the result is undead schlock dulled by a slasher-film mentality – squandering its chilling and fertile source material” Variety, December 31, 1988
Cast and characters:
- Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed
- Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall
- Denise Crosby as Rachel Goldman-Creed
- Miko Hughes as Gage Creed
- Blaze Berdahl as Ellie Creed
- Brad Greenquist as Victor Pascow
- Michael Lombard as Irwin Goldman
- Susan Blommaert as Missy Dandridge
- Mara Clark as Marcy Charlton
- Kavi Raz as Steve Masterton
- Mary Louise Wilson as Dory Goldman
- Andrew Hubatsek as Zelda Goldman
- Lisa Stathoplos as Jud’s mother
- Stephen King as Minister
- Chuck Courtney as Bill Baterman
- Peter Stader as Timmy Baterman
Pet Sematary was filmed in Maine. The house used for the Creeds’ home is a private residence near Hancock, while Jud’s house across the street was actually a facade constructed around an existing house that was insulated with fireproof material so that the mock-up could be burned around it. The approach to the Micmac burial ground was filmed at an abandoned granite quarry on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park, while a hilltop near Sedgwick was the site of the Micmac ground itself. Other locations included a forest near Ellsworth for the pet sematary, the hospital of the University of Maine at Orono, and Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor for the graveyard scenes.
The film grossed $57 million in North America. Released in 1989 by Paramount Home Video, Pet Sematary was a best-selling video. Paramount released it on DVD in 2006 and on Blu-ray in 2012.
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