Monday, 7 November 2011

Horror Review: Stephen King's Pet Semetary (1989)

Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

The year is 1989 and Stephen King is ruling Hollywood Horror. With the releases of "Carrie", "The Shining", "Creepshow 1 & 2", "The Dead Zone", "Cujo", "Christine", "Children Of The Corn", "Cat's Eyes", "Silver Bullet" & "Maximum Overdrive" before it, Pet Semetary had a-lot to live up-to, and by god did it! With the casting of Fred Gwynne, Mike Hughes, Dale Midkiff, it was all set to be a hit. Personally it was great to see Gwynne finally get his chance to prove he could do more than just play Herman Munster (A character he was trying to get away from).

King truly was the master of the Macabre, he knew what the crowd wanted, he spends time letting you get to know the characters, get to know the story properly, and he knows how to set a creepy ambience.

This film truly is a King classic, after "Maximum Overdrive" a-lot of fans finally thought he'd lost his finally touch and  had got sucked into Hollywood's ego monster (Which King has since stated was true).

With that in mind this film had a-lot more to prove. Today this film is hailed as a classic, but at the time it was not well received. Studios started to think twice about hiring him. Sure the film profited well, that was expected, but this would be the last King film to profit so well.

The film really is a work of genius and I never get bored watching it, Just like Stan Lee with his cameos in Marvel films we get the usual King cameo which is always fun! Chances are most Horror fans out there have seen it, but it still amazes me how many people don't know about it to this day as King's films are usually known even outside Horror circles.

Additional: As of writing this a "Pet Semetary" remake is in the works.

To see the trailer for Pet Semetary click here

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

When Rachel gets off the semi, the numbers "666" are on it.

The role of Zelda, Rachael's dying sister, was played by a man. The role called for her to look emaciated, and apparently there were no women skinny enough.

7 cats were used to play the part of "Church."

Stephen King required the movie to be filmed in Maine and his screenplay to be followed rigorously.

George A. Romero was originally set to direct but when filming was delayed, he dropped out, and Mary Lambert stepped in.

Bruce Campbell was the first choice for the role of Louis Creed.

Tom Savini turned down the chance to direct the film.

During the film, the character played by Fred Gwynne mentions that he a had a pet named "Spot". "Spot" was also the name of the family pet on the TV show The Munsters, also starring Gwynne.

The story was inspired to Stephen King by actual events that occurred while he was living in Orington, Maine with his family. King recalled that while living there his daughter's cat was killed in the highway. Much of Ellie Creed's emotional outburst was taken directly from King's own grief-stricken daughter. King also remembered that once his youngest son had nearly ran into the road while a truck was speeding down it, much like Gage does in film. The character of Judd Crandall was based on the elderly neighbor that lived across the road from King. Also there was an actual pet cemetery in the woods behind the King house, which became the basis for the one in the novel.

The Micmac burial ground in the film was constructed upon an actual mountain top. According to director Mary Lambert bulldozers were brought in to build the stone mounds.

Two twin actresses played the role of Ellie Creed, Blaze Berdahl however was mainly credited for the role while Beau Berdahl is credited as "Ellie Creed II".

The portrait of Zelda as a child also features a gray cat at the child's feet, an obvious foreshadowing.

This was the debut film for young Miko Hughes who was only three years old during the making of the film.

Mary Lambert said Fred Gwynne was her first and only choice for the role of Judd Crandall.

In an interview with Brad Greenquist he said that while in his gruesome makeup for the role of Victor Pascow no one would sit near him while the cast and crew were having lunch.

Stephen King was present on location for most of the shooting of the film. The area it was shot in was only 20 minutes from Kings home in Bangor, Maine.

This was the first filmed screenplay that Stephen King adapted from one of his own novels.

The original screenplay featured the 'wendigo' (a Native American demon) that was mentioned in the novel, but it was ultimately cut from the film. Its presence is only implied once in the scene where Louis is walking through the woods at night and hears something large knock down a tree.

Stephen King is a big fan of The Ramones and referenced some of their songs in the novel Pet Sematary. In homage The Ramones wrote and performed the theme song "Pet Sematary", which is featured in the films closing credits.

Stephen King once mentioned that the only novel he wrote that really scared him was Pet Sematary.

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