Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mary Lambert|
|Produced by||Richard P. Rubinstein|
|Screenplay by||Stephen King|
|Based on||Pet Sematary
by Stephen King
|Music by||Elliot Goldenthal|
|Edited by||Daniel P. Hanley
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||103 minutes|
Pet Sematary (sometimes referred to as Stephen King's Pet Sematary) is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King, the film features Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed, Denise Crosby as Rachel Creed, Blaze and Beau Berdahl as Ellie Creed, Miko Hughes as Gage Creed, and Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author King has a cameo as a minister.
The Creed family moves from Chicago to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. They end up befriending their elderly neighbor, Jud Crandall, who takes them to the isolated pet cemetery (misspelled "Sematary") behind the Creeds' new home.
Later, Louis Creed is working at the University of Maine when a young student named Victor Pascow is brought in with severe injuries from a car accident. The young man dies, but not before warning Louis (by name) of the pet cemetery. That night, an undead Victor visits Louis, taking him to the cemetery and issuing a warning about its power. Louis wakes up the next morning convinced the incident was a dream, but he discovers dirt on the sheets and his feet.
During Thanksgiving with the family gone, Church, Ellie's cat, is run down on the road. Jud takes Louis off to the Micmac burial ground beyond the pet cemetery to bury the cat, explaining it is the true burial ground. After returning, Louis asks Jud if anyone buried a person up there to which Jud immediately answers no. Church soon returns, but is a shell of his former self.
Sometime later, during a picnic, Louis' young son, Gage is killed by a truck on the same road while chasing down the kite he was playing with. Louis considers burying Gage in the burial grounds. Jud tries to dissuade him from doing so, telling him about a young man from town, Timmy Baterman, who died in service during World War II. Timmy's father, Bill, placed his son's corpse into the Micmac burial ground, only to have it reanimate and terrify the townsfolk. Jud and three of his friends tried burning down the house with the son in it, but Bill was attacked by Timmy and they both perished in the fire.
Rachel begs Louis to go with her and Ellie to Chicago, but he declines. Louis heads to the cemetery Gage is buried in, intending to exhume his son's body. He is met at the graveyard by Pascow, who warns him not to proceed.
On the flight, Ellie has a nightmare, stating that "Paxcow" warned her that Louis is going to do something really bad, and that he is trying to help because Louis tried to save his life. Rachel realizes who her daughter is talking about and calls Jud after Louis does not answer the phone. She asks if he has seen Louis, and then tells him she is returning. Jud warns her not to, but she has already hung up.
Louis takes his son's corpse to the Micmac burial ground. Pascow's spirit unsuccessfully tries to stop Louis. Louis returns home, exhausted from his activities. Gage later arrives and enters his father's room, removing a scalpel from one of his bags. Gage enters Jud's house and kills Jud while Church watches.
Rachel arrives home, hearing something that sounds like her late sister, Zelda, calling her name, then Gage's laughter. Rachel enters Jud's house and finds Gage in an upstairs bedroom. Gage tells her he brought her something and shows her Louis' scalpel. Rachel hugs her son in disbelief and is murdered.
Louis wakes up to find Gage's muddy footprints on the floor, his doctor's bag open and his scalpel gone. He receives a call from Gage saying, "I'm at Jud's, daddy. Will you come over and play with me? First I played with Jud. Then mommy came, and I played with mommy. We played, daddy. We had a awful good time. Now I want to play with YOU."
Preparing shots of morphine, Louis heads to Jud's house, running into Church once more. He distracts the cat with a raw steak, then kills him with a shot of morphine. He heads into the house, once more taunted by Gage. Louis searches the house only to have Rachel's corpse fall from the attic, hanged by her neck. Gage attacks his father, but Louis injects the boy with a morphine shot, killing him. Louis soaks the house in kerosene and sets it on fire, carrying his wife's body out. Pascow watches, attempting to apologize and begging Louis not to make the same mistake. Louis replies that he waited too long with Gage, and that it will work with Rachel because she just died. Louis walks through Pascow, who vanishes screaming.
Late that night while Louis plays solitaire, Rachel's reanimated corpse returns to the house. She and Louis embrace and begin to kiss. Unbeknownst to Louis, Rachel reaches for the knife on the table and raises it behind his back. The screen blacks out as a stab and Louis's scream of "NO!" is heard.
The film's score was written by Elliot Goldenthal. The film features two songs by the Ramones, one of Stephen King's favorite bands: "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" appears in a scene, and "Pet Sematary", a new track written specially for the movie, plays over the credits.
The song "Pet Sematary" became one of the Ramones' biggest charting hits, reaching number four on the Billboard 'Modern Rock Tracks' list, despite being, in the words of AMG, "reviled by most of the band's hardcore fans".
Pet Sematary received mixed reviews, garnering a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews, while it managed a positive 63% rating from audiences. The film grossed $57 million in North America. The film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for the song Pet Sematary.
Fangoria magazine had exclusive coverage of the filming of Stephen King's Pet Sematary. Their correspondent, Rod Labbe, visited the set twice: in October 1988 (at Bangor, Maine's Mount Hope Cemetery) and in November 1988 (Ellsworth, Maine). His articles were published in the February, April and June 1989 editions of Fangoria. Labbe and Pet Sematary also had the cover story in Gorezone, July 1989, an interview with the film's director, Mary Lambert.