Films based on Stephen King novels often get a bad rap, but I think they just prove hard to adapt. Among the best have been The Shining, The Dead Zone, Carrie, Salem’s Lot, Cujo, The Dark Half, The Mist, Stand By Me, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. And I have to admit I also enjoyed Children of the Corn, Apt Pupil, Needful Things, It and Silver Bullet. One of his biggest hits he has had though was Mary Lambert’s take on Pet Sematary, which took in 5 times its budget and spawned a sequel. Paramount now brings the horror classic to Blu-ray on October 2, 2012.
Husband and father Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and kids Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and Gage (Miko Hughes) have just moved to a huge house in the countryside. It happens to be on a very busy road frequented by semis, but it also backs onto a large wooded area. It even comes with a neighbourly gentleman across the road, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). When the family cat, Church, is killed by a speeding semi, Louis hears from Jud about a cemetery behind his house that has magical powers that would enable their cat to be brought back to life and prevent the disappointment of his daughter. But when Church comes back, he is not the same cat. He is…different. So when Louis’ son Gage is also struck on the road, Louis buries him in the cemetery as well, hoping to get his son back. But as Jud warns, sometimes dead is better.
I am a big fan of the book that Pet Sematary is based on and while I cannot say the movie is nearly as scary as the book was, it does nail all the essential elements of the story. The performances are slightly campy, but in the context of the story, they work well. Midkiff is especially good as the patriarch of the Creed family. His desperation at the loss of his son is convincing and believable. The horror elements are also intact and effective if not at the same levels as the book. In particular, Rachel’s dreams of her deformed and crazed sister are terrifying. A great story and a faithful adaptation, Pet Sematary is sure to please horror fans out there yet remains accessible enough for the casual horror fan as well.
The Blu-ray from Paramount doesn’t seem to be a fully restored print, but is still a nice upgrade from the previous DVD edition, which was quite old. The detail is better, but grain and clarity do seem a little muddled. Still, it is noticeably better and a decent catalog transfer overall. Recommended, especially if you do not own on another format yet.