“Pet Semetary” is another classic Stephen King adaptation that debuted in theaters in the late 1980s. What might be a little shocking is the fact that this horror film was directed by a woman. Director Mary Lambert, who was known for directing music videos was hired for the job and almost 30 years later female directors in any genre are still in the great minority of the male driven movie biz. Although that’s a topic for another time, I thought it was important to point out.
“Pet Semetary” is a movie about death and the supernatural. More specifically the way children learn about death and how adults must find it in themselves to let go. Just like the poster's tagline says “Sometimes dead is better”. The Creed family has moved out of the busy urban jungle of Chicago and into the quiet rural town of Ludlow, Maine. Louis, his wife Rachel, and their two young kids Gage and Ellie are a model of your typical family. Upon arrival at their new home, they immediately notice that the road in front of the house has an almost constant stream of big rig trucks flying down it. Their new neighbor Judd, a big older gentleman is there to greet them and tell them about the road. Although Judd seems like a nice old grandpa type, there is something a little more sinister going on under those overalls. He takes them up to the “Pet Semetary” and shows them all of the dead pets that the road has claimed. It was created by and for the children of the area, hence the misspelling of cemetery. It’s a place where children learn about death and say goodbye to their beloved companions. Daughter Ellie has a cat named Winston Churchill or Church for short, who in a short time will make a visit not this cemetery but an even more special one.
When the rest of the family flies back to Chicago to visit Rachel’s parents, Louis is left to care for the house and Church. I think we all know where this is going. In a short time Louis gets a call from Judd, Church has been found dead in his yard, another victim of the road. Not wanting to break his daughter's heart Judd takes him on a hike beyond the Pet Semetary to an ancient Indian burial ground. Oh my God did they not see “Poltergeist”. Church is buried there and the next day he shows up alive at the house, but smelling like a rotting corpse. This is only an appetizer of what is to come. While on a beautiful sunny afternoon picnic the family and Judd are having a good time when tragedy strikes. Two-year-old Gage is flying a kite when he drops the handle and the wind keeps dragging it towards the street. Louis who only turned away for a second now sees his son about to run into the path of one of those annoying tanker trucks. He runs after him but doesn’t make is and Gage is run over. After the funeral Louis is unable to rid himself of the guilt and torment, along with the nudging of Judd, he decides to dig up Gage’s little body and rebury him in the special cemetery. Yeah, I would say that’s a bad idea but he has already kind of lost his mind. This is where the movie gets really creepy and scary, Gage comes back and is like a “Chucky” doll. Louis’s inability to deal with death weather with Church or Gage has put everybody’s life at risk. You would think that being a doctor and all Louis would be the kind of person where this wouldn’t be a problem. This movie is not without its flaws but it's still a fun and entertaining film to watch.
There are also a number of different subplots that I haven’t mentioned that make this film a more fully rounded and terrifying film. This was a movie that was extremely scary when it came out and has lost a little bit of its punch over the years but there are a few scenes that are absolutely timeless and frightening. The ending of the film also takes the storyline one step further and actually introduces a bit of humor to the whole thing. There is a remake coming to theaters in the spring of 2019 and it should be interesting to see this new interpretation.
The Trailer for the 2019 Remake