Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Pet Sematary

A series of two (so far) movies.

1. Pet Sematary US movie (1989). Paramount. Pr Richard P Rubinstein. Exec pr Tim Zinnemann. Dir Mary Lambert. Spfx Image Engineering Inc. Mufx David Anderson, Lance Anderson. Vfx Fantasy II Film Effects Inc. Screenplay Stephen King. Based on Pet Sematary (1983) by King. Starring Blaze Berdahl (Ellie Creed), Denise Crosby (Rachel Creed), Brad Greenquist (Victor Pascow), Fred Gwynne (Jud Crandall), Andrew Hubatsek (Zelda), Miko Hughes (Gage Creed), Dale Midkiff (Louis Creed). 103 mins. Colour.

Dr Louis Creed comes from Chicago to Ludlow, New England, with wife Rachel, daughter Ellie and toddler son Gage. Their new house is beside a rural road along which speed regular Orinco fuel lorries. Folksy neighbour Jud explains that so many pets have died on the road that local kids have for decades maintained the Pet "Sematary" in the woods nearby. On Louis's first day in the new job he tries unsuccessfully to save accident victim Pascow; the corpse revives for a few moments to warn him it will come to him. That night Pascow's Ghost leads him to the Sematary and points beyond, warning him never to go to "the place where the dead walk". Rachel and the kids go away for a few days, and Ellie's cat is killed on the road. Jud leads Louis beyond the Sematary to an ancient Indian burial place and tells him to bury the cat. A few hours later it returns to the house – alive, but vicious, smelly and glowing-eyed. The scenario is soon re-enacted with Gage, killed by an Orinco lorry. The risen Gage, with the cat as his familiar, slaughters Jud and then Rachel. Louis re-kills the cat and Gage but, incomprehensibly, buries Rachel in the Indian cemetery. She returns and kills him.

King's novel is one of his best but his script makes a rather trite movie. Yet there is some interest in PS, notably the depiction of Pascow's well wishing, albeit hardly amiable, ghost, and the use of the thundering Orinco lorries as a sort of Greek chorus. [JG]

2. Pet Sematary II US movie (1992). Paramount. Pr Ralph S Singleton. Dir Mary Lambert. Spfx Peter M Chesney, Design FX Company, Dean W Miller. Mufx David Barton, Bart Mixon, Steve Johnson's XFX Inc. Screenplay Richard Outten. Starring Clancy Brown (Gus Gilbert), Anthony Edwards (Chase Matthews), Edward Furlong (Jeff Matthews), Jason McGuire (Drew Gilbert), Jared Rushton (Clyde Parker). 92 mins. Colour.

Some years after 1, boy Jeff sees actress mother Renee accidentally electrocuted on set, and moves with estranged father Chase to Ludlow; school bully Clyde picks on Jeff, leading him to Sematary; fat Drew befriends Jeff; Drew's vile stepfather Gus, in fit of rage, kills Drew's dog Zowie, and the two lads bury it at Indian graveyard (with obvious consequences); body and cliché counts mount; nuff said. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.