PET MOVIE REVIEW
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A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
"The soil of a man's heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. Because what you buy, you own. And what you own…always comes back to you."
A few things before we get started.
I know eventually that everything will remade. No matter its standing in the cinematic field, nothing is sacred. That means films like JAWS, ALIEN*, THE EXORCIST, THE WIZARD OF OZ*, and THE THING* will be up for a renewed revival for a different audience. I came to peace with this a long time ago because no matter how up in arms you get about this issue, it is going to happen and there isn't a thing you can do about it. However, one would think the studios would pick something that while flawed, it could be made better with a reboot and in the right hands. Just a thought. I have a list of 'em, and I'm adding more every day.
The second thing I want to put out there is that the literary works of Horror Master, Stephen King, rarely translates well to film.
Why is this?
Anyone who calls themselves a fan of the man, have their own visions of who they think should have been cast in various parts and central roles, parts of the stories that should have been left in and what could have been left out, the creatures should look like this and not that, and vice versa. A whole slew of reasons immediately come to mind, but you can't please everybody. It just isn't possible. Especially, when it comes to a devoted and rabid fan base like King's. I am not immune to this particular malady. I have my favorites. I have those adaptations that I think are complete steaming, stinking piles of garbage.
If films didn't come with the disclaimer of "Based on the Novel by Stephen King" or some other author, can you imagine what the uproar would be like?
Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff: NIGHTMARE WEEKEND, PLYMOUTH, TIME TRAX [TV], VISITORS OF THE NIGHT, THE CROW: SALVATION, ALIEN FURY: COUNTDOWN TO INVASION, ROUTE 666, MAXIMUM VELOCITY, TORN APART, DEEP RESCUE, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, HELL'S KITTY) moves to Ludlow, Maine (Big mistake right off the bat. Any place in conjunction with the towns of Derry and Castle Rock is just asking for trouble) with his wife,
Gage right from the jump almost gets hit by a truck while his parents are checking on Ellie, who has fallen, when a tire swing she was playing on, breaks and brings her crashing hard back to Earth. The neighbor who lives across the road, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne: THE MUNSTERS [TV], MUNSTERS GO HOME!, SIMON, VANISHING ACT, FATAL ATTRACTION) saves the kid from certain death. Afterwards, he introduces himself properly to the Creeds.
Louis comments on a path leading through the woods that Ellie noticed while she was still swinging. Jud looks tells the family it has a story and he will take them there one day.
Eventually, the day comes one bright and early morning, and the family discovers it is a place called the PET SEMATARY (it's misspelled, Rachel tells Ellie, when she asks). Jud tells his new neighbors that it's been used to bury kid's pets for many, many years. The old man tells the inquisitive little girl that the burial ground is a place of "rest and speaking." Not out loud, but by the markers. This is a good enough for the kid.
Pascow is brought to the clinic where Dr. Creed just started, with his brain exposed to open air and it is all too apparent this guy is way beyond bandages and gauze. Moments later, after Louis sends the staff out and it's just him and the stiff that used to be Victor Pascow, the good doctor is lamenting the fact he lost a patient. Suddenly, Vic pops up and tells Louis that the soil of a man's heart is stonier and calls the doc by name. Louis is spooked the fuck out that this dead dude would know his name, let alone be talking from the extent of his fatal injuries. Pascow tells Louis not to worry, he would be seeing him soon.
That night, in fact.
The ground is sssssssooooooouuurrrrrrrrr…
The Creeds have a woman named Missy Dandridge (Susan Blommaert: THE AMBULANCE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, TERROR ON TRACK 9, THE DOUBLE, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM) who rolls over to their house to wash the family's clothes and such. Missy has stomach cancer and comes to a tragic end after her introduction. Rachel doesn't attend the funeral, because she had a bad experience where it came to the death of her sister, Zelda (Andrew Hubatsek: HUMAN RESOURCES) who had spinal meningitis and made Rachel and her mother and father's lives a living hell. They were secretly glad the crazy, twisted sister finally bit the dust. I wouldn't have wanted to keep feeding her whatever slop they were giving her either. Grits? Oatmeal? Cream of Wheat? You tell me.
Thanksgiving comes along and Rachel, Ellie, and Gage are going to see Rachel's parents in Boston. Big surprise, the in-laws hate Louis, especially, the dad (for reasons unknown. Most people would be cool with their son/daughter marrying a doctor. Maybe it's in the book. I haven't read it in many a' moon.) so Louis hangs out at home while Rachel and the kids leave for the holiday.
Jud calls Louis shortly after the departure of his family and tells him that Church, despite being "fixed" has become roadkill. So, once more, Louis is heading to the Pet Sematary.
In this flick, he is there more than his place of employment, or even inside his own house. It's definitely close on that last one. But they aren't there to bury the cat in the regular ground, oh no. We're going over the barrier to another place, a burial plateau used by a Native American tribe known as the Micmac. The place has magical properties that can bring dead pets back to life. Louis, of course, thinks this is ridiculous, but he plays along. Jud doesn't help him out when they finally reach their destination because each person has to bury their own. The old man hangs out and smokes, while the good doctor toils in the soil.
Louis goes home after this nonsense, and the next day Church, miraculously, returns as if he hadn't died at all. He's different, to be sure. The cat is mean as hell, more so than he would be otherwise, as he wasn't the friendliest feline in the best of times. But Louis is glad that he hasn't got to explain to Ellie that Church getting his "nuts cut" didn't help him at all. Sometimes, adults don't know every damn thing.
Sadly, we have reached the point where very little can be said without breaking into MAJOR spoiler territory. You can figure out where this movie goes, pretty much, from when Church is buried in the Micmac ground, to when the end credits role. Somewhere, you know somebody, is going up there and it won't be the neighbor's dog down the road. Jud has a nervous denial to the contrary (at first) when the doc asks if a person has been interred there. From Louis's expression, you know he isn't buying it for a second. His momma didn't raise no fool.
I have to say, I was impressed with Director Mary Lambert's (PET SEMATARY II, TALES FROM THE CRYPT [TV], FACE OF EVIL, THE DARK PATH CHRONICLES [TV], STRANGE FREQUENCY) job on this flick. Much of her work before and after this was in the field of music videos. I wish she would have stuck on the trek she was on when she made PET SEMATARY. It is definitely one of the better King adaptations.
PET SEMATARY is my second favorite novel of Stephen King's right after, IT. The book just drips with pure evil and malice. King himself has said if he could take any of his books back, it would be PET SEMATARY and for the reasons I stated.