Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stephen King Project: Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary (or Stephen King's Pet Sematary) was released in April of 1989. I don't think I saw it in the theater as I was only eleven but that really wouldn't have stopped my dad at that point. Shockingly it made 57 million dollars at the box office. Not bad on a budget of 11 million. That's not to say it's good (or even watchable). Directed by Mary Lambert from a script by Stephen King, Pet Sematary is slow, boring, and pretty much devoid of frights.
The story begins with a family of bad actors moving into a rural Maine house on an insanely dangerous highway. This is instantly preposterous as any family with two small children would cross this house off their list almost immediately. The father, played with the acting chops of a wet newspaper by Dale Midkiff, is a doctor who treats a jogger named Pascow who has been run over by a car. When he appears later he has a flap of skin hanging off his head like an emo haircut and no one seems to be able to say his name the same way twice. What I liked most about him was his zip up hoodie.
Slowly, so slowly, it is revealed that their is a pet sematary behind this family's house that reanimates whatever is buried in it. Fred Gwynne, who plays their across the street neighbor, tells some kind of story about a zombie that terrorized the town a long time ago and warns the family about going near it. Of course their cat dies and they promptly plop him into a grave only to have him come back with a feisty personality and serious dislike for Dale Midkiff. In fact if you watch this movie you will identify with the cat more than any other character because it just makes you want to screech and claw the face of most of the actors.
Denise Crosby, playing the mother, is tragically overused in this film with several lines of dialogue and a dumb story about her aunt Zelda who was incapacitated with spina bifida or something. Basically as a girl she felt severely put upon by caring for a sick relative and that act of kindness has haunted her ever since. I found myself wanting her to melt into a puddle of dull water for the majority of the movie.
Obviously their cuter kid, Miko Hughes, gets hit by a car and the idiot father buries him the pet sematary. He comes back and laughs and cuts people up with a small scalpel. What a little prick, right? The kid goes on to kill his mom whom the dad subsequently buries in the fucking pet sematary. C'mon, dude, I thought you had advanced degrees and shit. Anyway, she comes back and kills him of course.
I remembered this movie being much creepier than this but it was seriously bad. A game Sean and I always play when we watch a movie is to pinpoint the moment when the movie becomes something with potential to something that will inevitably be really bad. Here it was when Fred Gwynne showed up and I realized he was the best actor in the movie by leaps and bounds. He even speaks with a pretty decent Maine accent. Stephen King plays a minister at, I think, the little boys funeral. Even he was better than either lead in the movie. I don't remember much about the book but I'm guessing this is a pretty accurate adaptation since King did the script. Surely the book was better as it's one of the better sellers at the bookstore where I work. And if anyone can tell me why he spelled it sematary and not cemetery like a normal person it would be much appreciated.

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