Pet Semetary (1989)

The ground’s gone sour

In keeping with my October theme that every other review will be a horror movie, I have decided to pick up a classic horror movie from Best Buy since it was only $5. This movie is one I didn’t think I had seen before, but the opening looked very familiar as I watched it. This movie is the Stephen King classic horror book-turned-movie, Pet Semetary, starring Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Miko Hughes, Blaze Berdahl, Fred Gwynne, and Brad Greenquist.

This movie starts with Dr. Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) moving to the country (in an attempt to eat more peaches) with his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and his kids Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and youngest Gage (Miko Hughes). Almost immediately they meet their oddly accented neighbor from across the street, Jud (Herman Munster himself, Fred Gwynne). He explains to them that he path they found behind their house leads to a Pet Semetary that gets most of their clientele from the busy street that separates their two houses. It’s never really explained why the cemetery has decided to misspell it’s name. The Dr. goes to work and is greeted by a guy that was just hit by a car, or something that had left his brain exposed, named Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist). Victor’s dead on arrival but, as the Dr. is sitting next to him, the dead guy reanimates, calls the Doc by name somehow, and tells him some stuff before deciding to die for good. That night, Victor visits the Doc and leads him up to the Pet Semetary and tells him some stuff about how the ground’s gone sour over yonder. Doc’s family goes to visit the inlaws and Doc stays behind. Almost immediately, Ellie’s cat, Church, is hit by a truck. Jud takes the Doc up beyond the Pet Semetary to an Indian burial ground and they bury the cat there. Later that night, the cat returns, physically the same but emotionally an asshole. Not long after the family returns, little Gage wonders into the road and his hit by a truck. The family doesn’t take it too well, but the dad takes it the worst, going basically insane. Against Jud’s warnings that anything that’s buried there comes back evil, the Doc digs up his son and buries him in the Indian burial ground. It does not go well.

As I said, this movie is generally regarded as a classic. But, watching it today, it really doesn’t hold up. I had no previous memories to go off of, but it was pretty cheesy. The story of this movie is a little bit retarded to me. I understand this movie’s underlying subtext is about dealing with death and guilt, but I don’t know anyone that would go this far. Look, I love my pets. I think they’re the bee’s knees. But if one of them died, that’s that. I wouldn’t bury it somewhere that could bring it back to life. There’s a cycle to life and everything dies so I would just let it be. Now, if I got some crazy notion into my mind to bring that pet back to life, if it came back evil and scratching me and stuff, I’d bludgeon it to re-death and say to myself “Oh well, I tried.” If later my kid died, I would say to myself “Oh wait, I remember what happened last time, and I don’t want that with my kid.” If I was dumb enough to do that (and somehow got away with the grave robbing), and that little kid came back and murdered my neighbor across the street and my wife before I had to put it down, I would be hard pressed to reach the decision to then try it with my wife as well. And if I did THAT, then I’d deserve to get stabbed to death by her, ’cause I’d be a fucking moron.

As for the acting, it was … not good. The performances ran from either mediocre to really bad. The dad’s going crazy was more comical than anything else. His reaction to his kid’s death also made me laugh. The little kid Miko Hughes was retarded adorable though. If that was all he needed to do, I’d have liked him. Unfortunately, he has to come back as evil. And the little bastard is too adorable to pull off evil. When his dad injects him with something to kill him, the little kid walks off and says “No fair, dad” as his last words. Then he goes and trips over something and bashes his head into a wall. And I’m pretty sure that was the actual kid doing that, and I have no idea how they got away with makin the kid bust his head against the wall. Also, their daughter in the movie is apparently psychic or something and no one ever figures it out. When the cat dies and the dad brings it back to life, she asks him about it at the airport saying something like “I had a dream where Church died and you buried him in the pet semetary and he came back to life” and he’s like “Church is fine” and not “Holy shit! I was gonna keep it a secret but you’re a psychic! I am gonna make SO much money off of you!”

As for the other stuff, mostly mediocre as well. The settings were kinda pretty and creepy as they called for it. One thing that began to get annoying was that every exterior shot that involved that road had a truck rushing by on it and it always seemed to be the same damn truck. The part where Gage dies would be sad if not for how hard the dad seemed to try to get that kid dead. First, he calls the kid out to fly the kite, then lets the 3 year old walk off a bit to play with it. At this point he starts talking to his family at the picnic table, turning his back completely to the little kid (even though I assume he’s physically capable of turning his head so he can just turn it back to look at his kid). When the kid drops his kite reel and it gets dragged away from him a bit, he does nothing because of course the kid wouldn’t chase it. And to top it all off, he trips on his way to grab the kid. The family at the table is no better. They were all facing the kid, but the dad takes all the blame and guilt for it. They could’ve said “Hey, our kid is running after that, you might wanna stop him.”

If you have fond memories of Pet Semetary as my roommate did, you probably want to avoid watching this movie. It seems to me, as it did for him, that this movie would’ve been pretty sweet when you were a kid and dumb. If you watch it now, it doesn’t hold up and it will most likely ruin it for you. My prognosis is “Sometimes dead is better” out of “Play dead. BE dead!!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.