31 Days of Halloween *Day 9* – PET SEMATARY

 

31 Days of Halloween – Day 9

Pet Sematary (Mary Lambert, 1989) The first time I was Pet Sematary, it was sort of by accident. A friend and I went to the drive-in with his mom and her boyfriend. We begged them to take us to see the main feature, Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. We were, and still are, big fans of Jason Voorhees. The second movie on the bill was a film we knew little about; Pet Sematary. These were times before internet, so we were in the dark about this film. We only knew that it was a novel by Stephen King. We decided to stay and watch the second half of the double feature. What we saw next haunted us for some time to come. Mind you, we were thirteen years old, but I am not afraid to admit that Pet Sematery scared the crap out of me. I watch it now with only fond memories of being frightened, because it has lost some of it’s effect over the years. The story is of the Creed family, who move from the big city of Chicago to a cottage in the country. The couple and their young daughter and son arrive, and from the start are concerned by the highway that runs right in front of their property. Day and night, the road is traveled by fast moving tractor-trailers. Numerous dogs and cats have perished to the road, so down the path from the house is a make-shift cemetery dedicated to the fallen pets. The family is befriended by neighbor Jud Crandall, an old gentleman who takes a shine to the new residents. After tragedy strikes, Jud introduces Mr. Creed to an ancient Micmac burial ground, just beyond the “Pet Sematary”. After abusing the power that the ancient grounds hold, life really begins to unravel for the Creeds. Like many of King’s stories, Pet Sematary has more than one element at play; the horror that is at hand, and the memories of the past that haunt certain characters. Mr. Creed and the daughter are visited by a ghost warning them of the future. Mrs. Creed is tormented by the memories of her crippled, invalid sister, and the the neighbor is tortured with guilt over the hell he just opened up on his new friends. Not to mention a zombie cat named Winston Churchill, and a soulless toddler running around with a scalpel. Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) is great as Jed, and has some pretty good lines of dialogue. Things like “Christ on his throne, no!” (when asked if a man had ever been buried in the burial ground) or “Sometimes dead is better.” He’s like a poor man’s prophet, and seems to always have a beer in every scene he is in. I have since read the source novel by horror scribe, and legend, Stephen King, and it is frightening. The book translates very well to the big screen. The story deals with death, and grieving, and the desperation of a devastated father. Desperate men go to dangerous lengths, even if the consequences are deadly. If resurrection is possible, does the soul return from the dead along with the body? Pet Sematary answers that question with a resounding NO! Even cute little kids return as blood thirsty ghouls. Along with The Exorcist (1973) and The Changeling (1980), Pet Sematary is a film that truly frightened me, and certain scenes still can make my skin crawl. And if all of that is not enough, legendary NYC punk band The Ramones perform the title track for this movie.  I highly recommend this film for some truly chilling and spooky Halloween viewing.

Recap

  • Day 1 – The Conjuring
  • Day 2 – You’re Next
  • Day 3 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
  • Day 4 – Dog Soldiers
  • Day 5 – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Day 6 – Psycho (1960)
  • Day 7 – John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Day 8 – The Prowler
  • Day 9 – Pet Sematary
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