Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary (1989)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Blaze Berdahl, Miko Hughes
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes

Along with "IT!, " "Pet Sematary" has probably always been one of my favorite Stephen King books. See, I enjoyed the horror master's early writing a whole lot more than the overly bloated pieces he's been delivering starting in the 90s. I had not seen the film version of the book in probably 15 years or so, so when I held Paramount's new Blu-Ray release of the movie in my hands, I thought it might just be time to revisit this little gem.

Louis and Rachel Creed (Dale Midkiff and Denise Crosby) leave the busy city behind for a quieter life in the countryside of Maine where they plan to raise their two children, Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and Gage (Miko Hughes).

Despite the seeming tranquility of the rural area, there is a busy road in front of their house, where heavy trucks speed by frequently, and one day, the Creed's cat, Church, is run over. The loss is hard on little Ellie and in a friendly gesture, the family's new neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne) takes Louis to an old Indian burial ground, hidden away behind a local pet cemetery. They bury the cat there and much to Louis' surprise, Church reappears on their doorstep very much alive the next morning. But the cat is changed. No longer the sweet little kitten, Church is almost vicious and simply scary.

Then, one day, during a family picnic, the Creed's world shatters entirely, when their little boy Gage is run over by a truck. Torn with grieve, Louis sends away his wife and daughter to stay with his in-laws, and the following night he decides to once again head up to the Micmac burial ground. He ignores all the warnings that evil spirits are at work in that sour ground, and buries Gage there, hoping for his resurrection. But what returns the next morning is no longer his son. It is a monster with the face of an angel.

Because it represents a series of very tangible horrors that do not rely on internal character development and thought all that much, "Pet Sematary" is clearly one of King's more filmable stories. Although a tad dated by now, I was very happy to see that the movie still works pretty well. While the character of Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist), who represents a ghostly college kid with a mission to warn the Creeds of the dangers of the burial ground, feels somehow tacked onto the story, the overall atmosphere of the movie is solid and brooding. The atmospheric shots and foreboding camerawork, the movie manages throughout to instill an unsettling sense of impending dread.

Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting the film in a clean 1080p high definition transfer on this release that is free of notable defects or blemishes. The image is reproduced with great level of detail, rendering a highly defined and sharp image at all times. Colors are strong and with its deep solid levels, the image always offers great visual depth and reveals even the tiniest detail with good contrast.

The audio presentation is also solid, and though dialogues have a tendency to sound a bit narrow, the overall presentation is good and well balanced. Elliot Goldenthal's spooky score is wonderfully reproduced and adds tremendously to set the mood for the nightmarish scenes to unfold.

The release contains a number of extras, all of them culled from the previous DVD release. First up is a commentary track with director Mary Lambert in which she discusses the making of the movie, along with her approach to King's material and her thoughts on some of the key scenes.

Also included are the featurettes "Stephen King Territory," The Characters" and "Filming the Horror," each taking a look at specific subjects. They are all in standard resolution and have a dated quality, but at the same time, it is kind of fun to see a young Stephen King guide you through a featurette that explores how his book has been translated to the film.

"Pet Sematary" returns in great style. Starting with a truly eye-catching and dark lenticular cover, the presentation of the film is top notch all around. Clearly, there's no reason why you should pass this opportunity to give the cool horror film a closer look.