Friday, December 30, 2011

Pet Sematary revisited


First I play with Judd, then Mommy came, and I play with Mommy. We play Daddy! We had a awfully good time! Now, I want to play with YOU!

There are many, many reasons I love Pet Sematary, the incredible cast, including Fred Gwynne as the curmudgeon Jud Crandall, is one of them.


He reminds me so much of Jimmy Stewart in this film.  Who else could utter the line "Sometimes, dead is bettah" not once but three times and sell it like he was reciting Shakespeare? 



I also love Brad Greenquist as Victor (the friendly ghost) Pascow.  Much like the Griffin Dunne character in An American Werewolf in London, the decaying, gory Victor tries to get the Creed family to do the right thing, but is limited by his undead situation.  To bad he wasn't a ghost from American Horror Story.  Those ghosts have no problem interfering with the humans, be it fucking or killing them.  The dead in Pet Sematary, at least the ghostly dead, are much to refined for that.



Speaking of the dead, they are represented three ways in Pet Sematary.  There is the ghostly dead, like Victor, and then there is the remembered dead, like the horrible Zelda.  Nothing more than a frightening memory for the doomed Rachel Creed, Zelda has become a horror icon.  I remember when I first saw the film as a teenager it was Zelda who scared me more than anything in this film.  She adds depth to the Rachel Creed character, and her story also adds to the overall theme of death and loss that permeates this film.   Grief, guilt, and emptiness are the results of death in Pet Sematary.  Dr. Creed feels guilty that he cannot save Victor Pascow.  He feels guilt that Church, the family pet, died on his watch.  Rachel is tourtured by her guilt over the death of Zelda, the sister whose death she wished for.  And finally, when the ultimate tragedy hits the Creed family, grief and emptiness spur Dr. Creed to do the most horrible, desperate thing.....


The third way the dead are represented in this film is the resurrected dead.  Jud, trying to be helpful, tells Dr. Creed (Dale Midkiff, always kind of creepy yet sympathetic) about the old Indian Burial Ground above the Pet Sematary.  Things buried there don't stay dead, but as we soon learn the ground has gone sour. 

I had not seen this film since I was a teenager, and watching it as an adult I experienced it very differently.  I found the film much more sad than horrific.  From the little girl learning what death really is, to Rachel and her tormented memories, to Jud, who wishes for death in many ways, Pet Sematary covers a lot of emotinal ground.  Of course, it is poor Dr. Creed, the tragic hero of this piece, that deserves our sympathy.  Who wouldn't want to protect his daughter from the pain of losing a beloved pet?  Who wouldn't, given the chance, try to bring their child back from the dead?  Pet Sematary is a perfect example of everything I love about Stephen King.  Great storytelling, horror, emotional depth, and a great payoff.  It didn't suprise me that King wrote the screenplay for this.  I really think it is one of the best King films.   Plus, that Ramones song is so damn good!

5 comments:

Lisa said...

I haven't seen this movie since it was in theaters when I was in high school! After reading your review, I think its time to see it again!

Have a Happy & Scary New Year!
Lisa @ Maple Grove Cemetery

Kev D. said...

Creed is such a tragic character. Great storytelling and good acting (except the little girl who is horrifyingly over the top)...

http://zombiehall.blogspot.com/2011/12/pet-sematary.html

Great post!

Zelmarific said...

The book was the first book to ever keep me up at night with fear. I still haven't seen the movie, but now you've inspired me!

Zelmarific said...

The book was the first book to make me stay up at night with fear. I never saw the movie, but now I think I will!

Robert Amos Vukovic said...

Zelda For President