Pet Sematary

I am willing to wager a large sum of money that anyone who has seen a horror movie, has seen a film that has been an adaptation of a Stephen King novel or short story. Some of the titles include: “The Shining,” “Carrie,” “Cujo,” “Creepshow,” “Christine,” “Children of the Corn,” “It,” “1408,” and “Misery.” The list of King’s accomplishment goes on and on, much like his novels. “Pet Sematary” is another film that is based on the same titled novel by King. Much like the other films that have been based on a Stephen King book’s, “Pet Sematary” has become a horror film classic. Ghosts, a zombie cat, a murderous toddler, Herman Munster and a killer Ramones song in the film; what is not to like?

“Pet Sematary” is one of those films that many of my peers, myself included, were and still are afraid of. There is something very raw and basic about the film, everyone can relate to having a pet die. Even though some of the acting may be corny and the plot cliché, when you watch “Pet Sematary” late at night it is still chilling and eerie. It is definitely a classic film that should be apart of your repertoire.

In recent years there have been many parody’s of “Pet Sematary,” including the South Park episode “Spookyfish.” Where a pet store is built over an evil burial grounds, and the pets start to kill people.

Most people can empathize with loosing the family pet, it is not easy and no one wants to have a member of the family die even when it is an animal. Whenever an animal is hurt or killed in a movie, the audience’s reaction is shocked and traumatized. There can be dozens of people brutally murdered, but as soon as the fluffy house pet gets hurt, there is outrage. There is a reason marketing people say babies and animals sell, they really do, they are cute and sympathetic. In “Pet Sematary,” we see both killed and turn evil!

Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) has been appointed as the director to the University of Maine’s campus health services. Louis and his family of four uproot their lives in Chicago and move to the small town of Ludlow. The family begins to settle into their new life and everything seems to be perfect, except that they live next to a highway with semi-trailers that roar down it constantly and there is an eerie cemetery behind their house.

Shortly after moving to Ludlow, the Creed’s lovable housecat, Church, gets hit by a truck. From the advice and with the help of their very strange neighbour Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), Louis buries Church behind the ‘pet sematary’, where there is an ancient Indian burial ground. One would think common sense would prevail and that burying the family cat in a heathen looking site would be out of the question. As predicted, Church returns back home alive the next day but not quite the same; he is an evil, blood thirsty zombie cat.

You would think that Louis would learn that burying bodies in the Indian burial grounds is not a great idea after Church returns as a snarling, hissing satanic zombie cat, but he does not. After a tragic accident, where Gage Creed (Miko Hughes), the youngest child in the Creed family is hit by a semi-trailer and killed, Louis is overtaken with by despair and thinks that he may try to re-animate his dead soon by burying him in the burial grounds. Even though Louis receives constant advice from a ghost who warns him to not go near the Indian burial grounds because the ground is sour, he goes ahead and excavates his son’s body to attempt to resurrect him. If something goes wrong resurrecting Gage, Louis decides he can just put his son to sleep.

The ensuing scenes after Gage returns to life as the evil Gage are quite chilling. The mayhem the tiny child inflicts is graphic and gory. There is nothing scarier than a child running around a house with a scalpel with the look on his face, like he is the Chucky doll. Louis is faced with the daunting task of cleaning up after his mistakes and making sure the dead stay dead; but will he learn his lesson?

Some of the most effectively terrifying scenes include the sequences where Louis’ wife Rachael (Denise Crosby) has flashbacks to her childhood when her older sister Zelda died. Rachael has continued to struggle her whole life being haunted by Zelda’s skinny, pale, very creepy looking ghost.

I have read a vast number of Stephen King books, including “Pet Sematary,” and the film stays true to the book. King likes to take an active role in most of the films that are adapted from his stories. In “Pet Sematary,” he is the film’s screen writer and makes a cameo in the movie as a priest.

“Pet Sematary” is clearly a tribute H. P. Lovecraft. King is a fan of H.P.’s work and often refers to often him in his works. There is clearly influence and parallels between the two’s works. There are many comparable aspects with H.P. Lovecraft’s “ Re-animator” (1985) and “Pet Sematary.” They are both stories about people who just cannot leave the dead alone and let “sleeping dogs lie.” Instead, the characters attempt to cheat death by bringing those they love back to life.

In the concluding sequences of the film Louis carries his recently deceased wife’s body towards the burial grounds and states: “I waited too long with Gage, with Rachael it will work this time. Because she just died.” This is clearly homage to “Re-animator” when at the end of the film Dan Cain decides to re-animate his recently departed girlfriend Meghan. Herbert West earlier declares: “He’d been dead too long. He wasn’t fresh enough.” The distraught men who have lost their leading ladies hope for a different ending than the prior attempts with other’s failed attempts to re-animate the departed.

Final thoughts: sometimes dead is better.




~ by exploitnation on June 12, 2008.

7 Responses to “Pet Sematary”

  1. I have really fond memories of this movie. For one, it was the film that turned me onto The Ramones and that was a life-altering experience. I was 10 years when this one was released and it made a huge impact on me. I remember when Pascow is brought into Dr. Creed´s medical room and comes alive again. That scene scared the shit out of me.
    It´s a shame that Mary Lambert haven´t made good on the promise she showed with this film. Part II wasn´t very good at all, if I remember correctly and “The In Crowd” sucked donkey-sized balls. I wonder what happened to her. “Pet Sematary” will always be one of my favorite horror films…

  2. PS2 wasn’t that bad, a lot of people who like the series like P2 better. They lumped more money into it, and had a wider range of gore. But for me, I liked PS1 better. Nothing beats having a toddler going crazy on a killing spree.

    BTW I am a Huge M. Lambert fan. It comes from love of Madonna, she has directed a lot of Mag videos! ❤

  3. Awesome post! Always nice to read a review of one of my fave movies.

    Haha, I haven’t seen that South Park episode in ages! I just got a hold of the few that had the Jud character in it, though. Too funny.


    Season 2 – episode 15 – SpookyFish


  5. Thanks, Crestfallen!

  6. np 😉 enjoy – I’m a huge Fred Gwynne fan btw

  7. Another person with good taste. 😀

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