tek's rating: ¾

Pet Sematary (R)
Dread Central (DVD) (Blu-ray); IMDb; Kindertrauma; Paramount; PopHorror; Rotten Tomatoes; Stephen King Wiki; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: spoilers.

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name (which I haven't read). The movie came out in 1989, but I didn't see it until 2016, as part of my summer of horror. And when the title came on the screen, I realized "cemetery" was misspelled. I'd probably realized that at some point in the past (like, I dunno, when looking at it on the DVD case, maybe), but for the life of me I can't specifically recall ever realizing it before. And this is a movie I've been aware of for many years, so I've had ample opportunity to realize that. (And like I said, I probably did. Possibly multiple times, over the years.) But that's not important. Um... I will also say that I guess I never knew anything about the plot, before I watched it. I had this vague idea that a bunch of dead animals would come back as like freaky zombie animals or whatever. But that didn't happen. Also, there are more familiar actors in the movie than I realized. I think I always knew that Denise Crosby (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) was in it. But upon watching it now, I find that the cast also includes Fred Gwynne (from The Munsters), and Dale Midkiff (from Time Trax), and Blaze Berdahl (from Ghostwriter). Even Stephen King himself has a cameo.

Anyway. Dr. Louis Creed (Midkiff) gets a job at a college in Maine, so he moves there from Chicago with his wife Rachel (Crosby), daughter Ellie (Berdahl), and toddler son, Gage. As soon as they arrive at their new house, Gage wanders onto the road, where trucks are always driving by at high speeds. He's saved by the Creeds' new neighbor from across the street, Jud Crandall (Gwynne). Meanwhile, Ellie has discovered a path leading away from their house, which Jud later takes them all along to see what's at the end. It's a pet cemetery (marked by a sign misspelled "Pet Sematary") that had apparently been made by local children over the last several decades (at least since Jud himself was a child, in the 1920s I think he said). And Ellie has a pet cat named Winston Churchill ("Church," for short), whom she worries may die. But her parents decide to get him fixed, so he'd be less likely to wander into the street. (I'm not sure that's actually how it works, but whatever.) But then, on Louis's first day of work, someone named Victor Pascow is hit by a truck. Louis tries to save his life, but he knows it's futile. However, after Pascow has apparently died, he grabs Louis and rasps out some ominous words that don't seem to make much sense. That night, when Louis goes to bed, he's visited by Pascow's ghost, who leads him out to the pet sematary, and warns him against going beyond it.

Time passes, and Rachel takes the kids to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Louis stays behind, because Rachel's family have never approved of him, for some reason. While they're gone, Church dies. (I guess he was hit by a truck, but he's not on the road, he's on Jud's lawn, so I'm not sure how that works.) Anyway, Louis decides to bury him, but not to tell his family, not wanting to ruin their holiday. But Jud takes him out beyond the pet sematary, and Louis follows, despite Pascow's warning, which is when I first realized he's a fucking moron. Jud leads him to a Micmac burial ground, and when Louis asks why they're there, Jud just says he has his reasons. That's good enough for moron Louis, so he buries the cat. Later, Church shows up at Louis's house and scares the crap out of him. It's not until that that Jud reveals the truth about the burial ground. Pets come back to life when buried there, for some ludicrous reason. Louis asks if anyone ever buried a person there, and Jud says no. (Spoiler alert: this is a lie.)

Of course it's obvious that sooner or later, someone close to Louis will die, and he'll moronically bury them in the Micmac burial ground. Despite repeated warnings from the ghost of Pascow, and from Jud, and the fact that Church is now scary AF (even though he doesn't really do much). And... I don't want to reveal any more details of the plot. I'll just say that I found the movie scarier than I expected to. Also there were some amusing bits, mostly in the form of Pascow's ghost. (I'm not sure how much it was meant to be funny and how much of that was just my take on it, but... whatever. I liked it.) And, aside from the fact that the whole plot hinged on Louis being a complete dumbass, over and over and over, it was actually pretty decent, as horror movies go. (And to be fair, Louis certainly wasn't the only dumbass character in the movie. Because most horror movies do require characters to do dumb things. Like hella dumb. Oh, my, yes, Rachel, let's walk towards the uber-creepy voice....) Oh, which reminds me... I almost forgot to mention that Rachel has a backstory every bit as creepy as what's going on in the present. Possibly more so. But I'm not going to give any details of that. Because damn.

There is a sequel, which I'm not sure if I'll ever see or not. There was also a remake in 2019.

supernatural horror index