Oct 16th: Pet Sematary(1989): http://youtu.be/jpjpUOXQZac
Before now, I had only seen this film one time, when i was quite young. I wrote it off as a boring film, and definitely not scary. Through the years i would hear more and more people describe this as their favorite Scary Movie, and i would think to myself “Well, they must not like Scary Movies, because that one sucked!”. Having said that, I formed this opinion when i was about 7 or 8 years old, so cut me some slack. Roughly 20 years later, i decided to give it another go…and my thoughts have significantly changed!
For those of you who don’t know the story, It begins with the Creed family moving to Ludlow Maine, from Chicago. Louis is a Doctor who will be working at the University of Maine, and is joined by his wife Rachel, their young daughter Ellie, their toddler Gage, and Ellie’s cat, Church. Immediately after arriving at their gorgeous new home, they meet their elderly neighbor Jud Carandall(played by Fred Gwynne of “The Munsters” fame), as well as a dangerous road in front of their house which frequently sees large trucks speeding past. Jud explains that the Creeds aught to mind their cat around the road, as it has claimed the lives of many pets, even showing them a large “Pet Sematary” located in the nearby woods. During his first day of his new residency, Louis tries to save the life of a victim of a severe car accident, even though it is obvious that the young man will die. Louis is shaken when the man’s last dying words address him by name despite never having met, then later that night, Louis is drawn from his bed by the specter of the deceased man, who leads him to the pet cemetery and warns him that the ground is sour and not to “go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to.” Louis writes it all off as a dream. Not long after, while the rest of the family is visiting Chicago, Jud informs Louis that Church has been run over. agonizing over breaking the news to Ellie, Jud offers Louis an alternative, and leads him deep into the woods, to a spot beyond the Pet Sematary. Jud explains it was a Micmac Indian burial ground and instructs Louis to bury the cat. Much to his shock, the cat returns to life, but seems somehow…changed.
Jud explains that when he was a boy, he learned of the spot from a local fella, and had buried his dog there as well. He chose to show the spot to Louis because he could see that Ellie was a little girl not ready to say goodbye to his cat yet, but is still clearly troubled by the decision, explaining that anything coming back from that burial ground is not the same as they were before. When Louis asks if anyone has ever buried a person up there, Jud vehemently denies…but we know there is more to the story. Life seems to be more or less continuing on as normal, until one day during a picnic, Gage wanders out onto the road in full view of everyone. Louis desperately sprints to catch up to him, but trips and falls, mere feet away, and can only watch as Gage is struck down by a speeding truck. I’ll give no more away, but i think you can take a wild guess where the story heads next.
What i get most from this film is that it is not a story about the horror of the audience, it is a story about the horror of the characters. Ellie is terrified of losing her cat, Rachel fears her children having to confront death, having experienced the traumatic death of her terribly ill sister when she was young. In flashbacks we are shown the ordeal, of a young Rachel having to feed her older dying sister. She expresses how as terrible as she knew it was, she wished for death to take her sister. She has been understandably scarred by this experience and wants to shield her children from death, even though she knows that can’t continue forever. The horror for Louis is that he is a doctor, someone who has the power to save lives, yet he cannot keep death away from his family. When he is given a chance to bring Gage back, he agonizes over the decision. troubled by the results of Church, and by stories from Jud…yet he is overcome with grief and guilt over the loss to his family and to himself. This is much more of a depressing film than it is a scary film…but it has the dead rising from the grave, so i guess it counts. Also, Evil Gage reminds me a lot of the Childs Play films.
*Bonus side note: My Ex, Holly, now has a son who looks exactly like this undead lil Raggamuffin…and his name is Gage*