The Horror Honeys: Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Pet Sematary Mondo art by Mike Saputo
Pet Sematary (1989)

My love for Stephen King knows no bounds, but I’m usually pretty particular when it comes to film adaptations of his novels because, let’s face it, they don’t always translate well. However, I’m less apt to complain when the man, himself, writes the screenplay. I figure, if he’s ok with it, I should be too. This week I revisit a story of love, loss, and bringing people back from the dead, with Pet Sematary.

Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby), daughter, Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), and son Gage (Miko Hughes), move to rural Maine where Louis is to be the doctor at the local University. On the first day, Ellie discovers a path that leads from the house to the woods. The Creeds also discover neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), a local, who will tell them the story of the path and the pet cemetery that lies at the end. Well, part of the story.

Aw, Church, you little cutie wootie... OW STOP BITING ME!
Things take a dramatic turn on Louis’ first day of work when a student is killed. In a brief moment alone, Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) wakes from the dead to warn Louis not to cross the barrier. Of course, Louis has no idea what the warning means until Ellie’s cat, Church, is found dead by the side of the road. Jud takes Louis to bury Church, but not in the pet cemetery. He takes Louis beyond that to the Micmac burial ground and the cat came back the very next day. 

Unfortunately, Church isn’t the loveable ball of fluff he once was. This resurrection sets in motion a chain of events that will push Louis to his limits for the sake of his family.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a terrible movie. With the exceptions of Gwynne, Hughes, and the cat, Pet Sematary has some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen. Midkiff and Crosby have zero chemistry, which makes it hard to feel sorry for them because they aren’t terribly believable as a loving couple. Ellie Creed is portrayed as a whiny, spoiled brat, rather than the cute, precocious little girl she should be. She’s only eclipsed by Tad Trenton in Cujo as the most irritating child in a Stephen King film. 

Aw, don't cry Gage you little cutie wootie... OW STOP STABBING ME!
So what could possibly get me to watch this film at least twice a year? Fred Gwynne is good place to start. Gwynne steals every scene he’s in and, thankfully, he’s in a lot of scenes. He’s everything you want in a cranky grandfather type, from that New England accent to eating pickles and beer while reading the paper. Miko Hughes is also pretty brilliant for a child not quite three years old when this was filmed. He is insanely cute, but can pull out an evil sneer better than most adult actors. For those of you who follow me on twitter and have witnessed my bizarre obsession with my cat, you know (or should have guessed) I named him after Gage Creed.

Denise, you are a vision of loveliness.
While there are some continuity errors, the set design and practical effects are to be commended as well. Pet Sematary is full of little moments which overshadow the larger fails. Moments like Gage’s fateful run to the road, a tiny hand in a coffin, an Achilles tendon being severed, and Zelda. Zelda is terrifying. 

If you haven’t seen Pet Sematary, shame on you. It’s on Netflix right now so do yourself a favor and get on it. If you haven’t read the book, do yourself a bigger favor and read that first. 

What was YOUR favorite Stephen King story as a kid?
Let me know on Twitter: @suzebee04