Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is a film that makes me conflicted about not having read the book. Which is odd given the author, but that’s how it goes. Pet Sematary is a film that I remember well as a kid, it along with, well, IT, but also Carrie, The Shining and a host of other King adaptations were required viewing in my household. Most of the novels that those film’s are based on were read to my brother and I as kids. You know, when other kids were being read Dr. Seuss, not that I’m complaining. Pet Sematary is a film that I didn’t find all that frightening as a kid, and now as an adult it holds up just the same. I wouldn’t count this one among my least favorite King films. It’s just one of the one’s that doesn’t stick out much upon reflection to me. Much like Dalores Claiborne or Tommyknockers.
The set up is fairly generic, a new family, The Creeds, Dr. Louis (Dale Midkiff), his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and their two children, Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and Gage (Miko Hughes), move into a new home… in Maine. Louis quickly befriends Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) , his elderly next door neighbor (and best character in this film) and he takes them down a path next their home to a local pet cemetery, because you know that’s just what you do with your new neighbors. At work Louis tries and save a local boy, Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) who was hit by a car. Before Victor dies, he warns the Dr. of the cemetery and again later that night in Dr. Louis’s dream. Sometime later Church, Ellie’s cat gets hit on the road, which has been noted a number of times for being dangerous due to the logging trucks that come barreling down it at high speeds. Jud takes Dr. Louis to a place past the cemetery to the true cemetery. An old Native American burial site… or at least I think so, to bury the cat. The cat comes back to life and returns the Creeds changed. Gone is the loving, affectionate cat of old, the cat is now cruel and near feral. Later, while at a picnic Gage runs into the road chasing a kite and gets hit by a logging truck. After his funeral, Rachel and Ellie leave town and Dr. Louis ask Jud if anyone has buried a person in the graveyard. Jud tells Dr. Louis of just such an instance and its tragic end. Dr. Louis ignores all warnings and digs up his son, then reburying him in the old cemetery. When Gage comes back he come back changed, he steals a scalpel and pays Jud a visit. During this time Rachel receives a warning from Victor and rushes home. Where she is killed by Gage. Dr. Louis horrified by his sons, Dr. Louis sets to face the evil he’s become…
I’m not sure why I don’t like this film that much. Because I love Fred Gwynne and Denise Crosby in this film. I have a fondness for both actors. Fred Gwynne for his work as Herman Munster and Denise Crosby for her work as Tasha Yar. As far as the acting goes these two are the only memorable characters and neither are the films focus.
There’s some issues I have with the story. Mainly why in the world would Jud ever show anyone that place. It’s not like Louis, a doctor, would ever think of burying a person out there. Not with those magic resurrections powers it has and after the horrible experience he’s had in the past, why ever bring that place up. He seems like a smart man, one that would know what secrets are best kept.
Final thoughts, its good I guess and I fear reading the book would change that. As it would invariably make this film worse in my eyes. Beyond Fred Gwynne and Denise Crosby, most Fred Gwynne… this film just doesn’t do anything for me. It feels slow, while somehow at the same time rushed. But I would still recommend this film, just not for hardcore horror fans as this film would leave them wanting. But to a casual fan of the genre, sure. 6/10