Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pet Sematary (1989)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, rented from netflix.

When Dr Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) moves to small-town Maine with his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and two young kids, he expects a quieter life than the one he left in Chicago. The only cause of excitement seems to be the road outside their house, down which large trucks come careening without care for pedestrians. Within a few weeks the Creeds' cat gets hit, and out of sympathy for their daughter their friendly but oddly foreboding neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) shows Louis a way to bring back the beloved pet. Behind their house is an abandoned Native American burial ground, presumed cursed, whose soil can resuscitate dead creatures- but, they don't come back quite the same. Soon enough Louis loses a person close to him, and in his grief is tempted by the call of the magical ground. TO HIS PERIL.

I'll admit it, a driving force in my decision to watch Pet Sematary was that it's directed by a lady and I haven't really seen any women-made horror. I assumed it would be a kind of ridiculous 80s movie about zombie pets, and my god I was completely wrong about that but CAN YOU BLAME ME? There is mad false advertising going on here, and when I thought I might get some fun, spooky camp, instead I got a really scary movie. Not that I'm complaining. This film combines ominous tension, dark subject matter, great special effects, and horrific imagery to create one damn enjoyable (and CREEPY) movie. It does start off kind of campy, mostly because the inimitable Fred Gwynne is fucking tearing through the scenery, and it's fantastic, and there's a lot of hilariously obvious foreshadowing. Like, these parents never pay attention to their goddamn toddler, and there are always trucks zooming around, so do we think he might get into trouble? HMMMM? Once shit gets real- and believe you me, shit gets very real- it becomes a truly horrifying story, complete with nightmare memories, lots of gore, and a homicidal doll-child. But! Barely any pets! There's like one pet in this movie, what gives?

One of the best things about Pet Sematary is that there's a friendly, decaying ghost who keeps appearing to Louis, and I've decided that I kind of want every movie to have a gross ghost zombie friend follow around the protagonist, just like in An American Werewolf in London! Everything else about it is pretty good too, I think the main thing I didn't love about it was that it felt very divided across the first and second halves, with the tone, visuals, and characters changing so abruptly it felt kind of like two films spliced together. I liked both halves, though, so it's not a major concern, and that sudden shift does make all the fucked up shit at the end all the more effective. Or maybe it's just that I'm super scared of children in horror movies, like they are always creepy and nefarious, especially the pale blonde ones. Yikes.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: I saw a lot of parallels to Re-Animator, especially towards the end, and since Re-Animator is always a good movie to watch on any occasion, I heartily recommend this pairing!

6 comments:

  1. Between this and The Shining, I wonder if Stephen King has a thing for making characters travel long distances only to immediately die upon arriving at their destination.

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    1. Mmm interesting thing to ponder, I haven't seen/read enough of his stuff to find a pattern.

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  2. I love Pet Sematary. It's always a good watch. My neighbor named her son Gage, and this movie is all I think about when I hear his name.

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  3. Ha, I remember seeing this movie in the theater. I think I was a very young teen or a preteen. It scared me so badly. There was no camp in this movie. I think there have been quite a few films influenced by this movie.

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    1. Oh man if I had seen this even a couple of years ago it would have freaked me out so much, I can't imagine if I'd seen it as a preteen!

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