Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pet Sematary (1989)

I'm going to go ahead and say it, Pet Sematary is one of the best Stephen King movie adaptations.  It's one of his best books as well, in my opinion.  One thing that King has always excelled at is scaring us with things that can actually happen, and is this story too far out of the realm of reality?  My readers may not know this, but Scream Queen is an avid supporter of animal rights, and while I can watch men, women, and children be chopped to bits on screen, that damn ASPCA commercial tears me up every time.  As for my pets, I have two, both rescues who make me smile every day.

This is Liza and Maude looking out onto East 72nd Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
They're only 5 and 7 right now, but I can't even begin to think about what I'll do someday when they're gone.  I imagine the idea of the "secret" Pet Sematary will sound pretty tempting to me then, which is why King's story hits so close to home, especially for us crazy pet owners.

In case you've missed the career of SK completely, Pet Sematary is about the young Creed family that moves to a college town in Maine.  There's dad/husband Louis (Dale Midkiff), mom Rachel (Denise Crosby), daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), and son Gage (Miko Hughes).  Louis is all set to be the new doctor at the university hospital, and Rachel is settling in as stay-at-home mom.

They immediately meet a friendly neighbor, Judd Crandall (Fred Gwynne) who has lived in the area forever, and is excited to show the family the pet cemetary down the path from their house.  It seems innocuous enough, just being a place where mourning children bury their beloved, deceased pets.  However, there's another burial ground beyond the cemetary, where pets come back to life after you put them in the ground.

Louis's obsession with the burial ground starts when when his daughter's cat gets hit by a truck, and continues to grow.  Exacerbating these issues are his wife's trauma over a dying sister she cared for as a child.   (For those who have seen this, didn't you get nightmares over Zelda?  Holy crap.)  After a traumatic experience, Louis pushes the limits of the burial grounds, to see who and what it can bring back.

The acting in this movie wouldn't blow anyone out of the water, except for the OMG AWESOME EVIL CUTENESS of Gage Creed.  Seriously, does your horror-hardened heart not melt at this?

The creepiness of this flick is totally on-point and the special effects are pretty damned good, especially for the late 80s.  When I did The Top Ten Creepiest Kids in Horror Movies Miko Hughes was on there twice for his overwhelming awesomeness as a scary child.  Right now, my top SK move adaptations are Pet Sematary, Shawshank Redemption, Firestarter,  Maximum Overdrive (ha!) and The Stand.   Full disclosure: I love The Shining as a movie, but not as a King adaptation.  And that's a story for a whole different post.   Rock on, Pet Sematary, rock on.