Pet Sematary is the final Stephen King adaptation released in the 80’s. It was buried for so long since King has called it the scariest book he’s ever written. Although the themes are creepy and saddening, the movie can only go so far. The misspelled Pet Sematary centers on a pet cemetery that mysteriously brings animals back to life. It’s a personal story that King based on similar life experiences. So much so that King wrote the movie himself. Pet Sematary follows the Creed family as they move to a traditional Maine town. The only thing off about their new home are trucks that speed down the street and the titular cemetery down the road.
Dale Midkiff doesn’t stand out as Dr. Louis Creed, but Fred Gwynne is a major presence as their heavily accented neighbor Jud Crandall. Denise Crosby plays Louis’ wife Rachel a year after quitting The Next Generation. Their children are the ambiguously supernatural Ellie and adorable toddler Gage. There’s the usual uncomfortable talk about religion, but their cat Church is actually named after Winston Churchill. When Church dies, Jud tells Louis how to bring him back to life. A soft grey cat can only look so intimidating, but Church coming back wrong is unsettling. “Sometimes, dead is better.”
Other creepy happenings are an undead patient named Victor Pascow warning characters not to use the cemetery and Rachel remembering her sister Zelda who died of a spinal disease. Neither compare to Gage being tragically struck by an oncoming truck. It’s part of the reason why I avoided watching the movie, but it is offscreen. What isn’t offscreen is Louis bringing Gage back to life as a murderous child. 3 year old Miko Hughes is still cute, but surprisingly terrifying. SPOILER ALERT! Jud dies an unexpectedly graphic death and Rachel returns only to die as well. A detatched Louis puts down his cat and son before bringing his wife back. Pet Sematary isn’t the instant Stephen King classic I thought it would be, but it’s lively enough.
Followed by: Pet Sematary Two