ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 5, 1989
By Steve Newton
The long list of movies based on Stephen King’s writings range from excellent (The Dead Zone, Carrie), to mediocre (Christine, Firestarter), to downright terrible (Maximum Overdrive).
Unfortunately for fans of the horror genre, the latest King story to hit the screen, Pet Sematary, is a dead dog that deserves no last rites.
Directed by Mary Lambert, whose credits include videos for Madonna (“Material Girl”) and Sting (“We’ll Be Together Tonight”), Pet Sematary is the story of ill-fated Dr. Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), who moves with his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and two young kids to the small rural town of Ludlow, Maine. Now either Creed didn’t bother to check out his new house very well, or he’s not a bright fellow, because it’s next to a highway on which huge trucks speed by day and night.
Not exactly the perfect spot to raise toddlers.
As it turns out, the screaming monster trucks are about the only scary things in this movie. When one of these babies totals the Creed’s cat, Church, neighbour Jud Randall (Fred Gwynne of Munsters fame) shows the doctor a Micmac Indian burial ground that brings things back to life–sort of. In a demented version of The Cat Came Back, Church returns with eyes a-blazing and claws a-scratching.
After another lame-brained truck driver mows down the Creed’s youngest child while the radio blasts the Ramones’ “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”, the grief-stricken father exhumes the kid’s impossibly intact body and tries his luck in the burial ground again.
He learns about horror the hard way.
Like most of Louis Creed’s actions, Pet Sematary is just plain dumb. The acting stinks, and Stephen King’s script smells, too. Without any real scares, there’s no reason at all for this movie to exist.