Horror review: Pet Sematary Two

PET SEMATARY GUS

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 3, 1992

By Steve Newton

In a recent edition of top horror magazine Fangoria, Pet Sematary author Stephen King explained how he felt about Pet Sematary Two, the sequel to the 1989 horror hit that grossed $84 million worldwide. “I don’t approve of the movie and I didn’t want it made,” said King. “I hope the people who read Fangoria, the people who read my books, and anyone who likes my stuff will stay away from this picture.”

Take heed of Steve-O’s advice. Life’s too short to spend an hour-and-a-half of it watching hollow cinematic dreck like Pet Sematary Two. There are some neat gory bits, though.

Edward Furlong, the 14-year-old kid from Terminator 2, stars as a 14-year-old kid who moves with his veterinarian dad (Top Gun’s Anthony Edwards) to the small town of Ludlow, Maine, to escape the memories of his movie-star mom (Darlanne Fluegel) being electrocuted while shooting a horror movie. Just like his T2 character, Furlong’s Jeff Matthews is bitter and withdrawn, although sometimes it’s hard to tell, ’cause the kid can’t act worth beans.

As the new celebrity in town, Jeff draws the wrath of class bully Clyde (Big’s Jared Rushton), but also befriends chubby outcast Drew Gilbert (Jason McGuire), whose cruel stepdad is also the town sheriff. Clancy Brown portrays Sheriff Gus Gilbert, and his twisted performance—as a nasty live person and even nastier dead one—is by far the best thing about Pet Sematary Two. The gleeful wickedness Brown projected so well as Christopher Lambert’s nemesis in Highlander is brought back full-bore in this one, and humans and animals alike fall prey to the bloody good fun the copper has with power drills and motorcycle wheels.

The titular burial ground comes into play after the sheriff shoots his stepson’s beautiful dog, Zowie, for causing a ruckus and interrupting his lovemaking. The two kids bury the dog at the local pet “sematary” and, just like the cat that came back in Pet Sematary, Zowie returns all ticked off and glowing-eyed, ready to kick ass. Next thing you know, dead humans are being planted up at the magical old Indian burial ground, and they don’t come back happy, either.

The resultant orgy of violence is authentically depicted by some of Hollywood’s top make-up effects artists, but it’s unfortunate that little things like acting and story—not to mention any semblance of originality—take such a serious back seat to the gore.

Like Stephen King says, the people who read his books should stay away from Pet Sematary Two. And those who favour Umberto Eco might want to pass on it, too.

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