by BOB GRIMM & r & & r & Pet Sematary & r & Pet Sematary is another horror film that took a critical drubbing upon its release, yet has managed to live on as a sort of cult classic. Stephen King once declared that he would never allow this novel to be made into a film because it was too disturbing. But director Mary Lambert (who made many of Madonna's early videos, including "Like a Virgin") got a shot at it anyway, and the resulting film is twisted and funny. King even makes a cameo as a priest.
When an all-American family moves into a country home, everything seems ideal. It turns out that trucks speeding in front of their house all of the time result in the death of their cat, Church, and then their young son, Gage. The neighbor across the street (Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster himself, in one of his last roles) suggests to the patriarch of the family (Dale Midkiff) that he bury the cat in a pet cemetery known to resurrect dead animals. He does so, with scary results. When the little boy dies, Dad buries the corpse in the same cemetery, and the kid comes back with a real bad attitude.
Yes, a film about a toddler killing his parents is in very bad taste, but Lambert manages to find a tone that makes it workable. It's scary and comical at the same time, and the child actor (Miko Hughes) does a damn fine job as the killer kid.
When I was running a discount theater in upstate New York, I managed to dump an entire print of Pet Sematary on the projection-room floor. I spent two days trying to salvage the print, which I managed to do, thanks to the help of my 80-year-old projectionist, who hated me from that day on. This has nothing to do with the movie, but it's a semi-decent story, don't you think?
The Special Collector's Edition DVD release features a commentary by director Lambert and some well-done featurettes on the making of the movie that make the package worthwhile.
There were rumors circulating recently that this film will be remade with George Clooney in the lead. Don't hold your breath: The guy's an Oscar winner.