Review Date: August 23, 2002
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/25/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Stephen King's name and luster was given a brief revival in the early 90's thanks to the runaway success of Mary Lambert's Pet Sematary back in 1989. The film cleaned up at the box office, so it is not surprising that Producer Ralph S. Singleton green lighted two more King productions. One of them was a film he decided to direct himself, Graveyard Shift
, a movie better left unmentioned. The second film he produced, and allowed Mary Lambert to again direct. This film was Pet Sematary Two
, released in 1992 to cash in on not only the original's success, but also rising star Edward Furlong's newly acquired fame as John Conner in the colossal Terminator 2
. Is the film any good, or should the series have remained buried? Grab a shovel and let's dig deep into this film.
Renee Hallow (Darlanne Fluegel
) is a renowned actress on the production of her new horror film. Along for the production is her son Geoffrey Matthews (Edward Furlong
), who asks her to work things out with his dad, Chase (Anthony Edwards
). She says "We'll see" and moments later she is fried in a freak accident on-set. Still grieving and looking to hide under the publicity radar, the Matthew's move to the quite town of Ludlow, Maine. Chase is a veterinarian, and reopens an animal hospital there after the previous one was unexpectedly shut down a few years ago. Geoff tries to move on with his life while attending school, but is bullied by some of the creeps in his class.
Geoff ends up befriending another social outcast, a tubby kid named Drew Gilbert (Jason McGuire
). While being harassed one day, the two of them are told about the infamous "Pet Sematary", where dead things can come back to life under the right circumstances. The two dismiss this as a cruel joke until Drew's dog is shot by his mean spirited stepfather, Gus (Clancy Brown
) and Drew decides to give the sematary a chance. Zowie, his dog, is miraculously revived, but as everyone but the characters figure out, there is something distinctly different about the dog. It has glowing red eyes, no heartbeat, and a taste for carnage.
As Gus is in the midst of beating his stepson, Zowie attacks from afar, instantly killing Gus. In order to cover it up, both Drew and Geoff bring Gus back to life as well, and from there things get a little gruesome. People begin dying, and Gus becomes even more off the wall. Neither Chase nor anyone else can figure out just what the heck is going on in Ludlow until Chase speaks with the former owner of the animal hospital. It appears this kind of thing has happened before, and unless they get out of there, it will happen to the Matthew's family as well!
Pet Sematary Two
begins moderately well. The plot is setup nicely, and for the first hour it is actually entertaining. But as soon as Gus comes back from the grave, all the logic and tension created in the first half are foolishly thrown out the window. Why is it that none of the characters know that the revived mammals are much different than they used to be. And considering the film takes place in the same town as the first, why didn't anyone do something to prevent this massacre from happening again. A tiny "Keep Out" sign just doesn't cut it when people's lives are at stake. And even when the Anthony Edwards character does find out is happening, he does nothing about it, even letting his kid sleep over at his friend's house.
Another huge flaw of the film is Edward Furlong's shifty and at times inexplicable performance. He is at times sweet, at others cruel, and in the remainder of the film just bizarre. Seeing as he is the lead, he should have tried at least creating an understandable character with real emotions. It is impossible to connect with his Geoffrey character, because he doesn't have a definite personality. And when the film approaches its climax, Geoffrey thinks "Hey, wouldn't it be great to revive my dead mother?" even though he has witnessed first-hand what has happened to Gus and Zowie. Geoffrey then has another change of heart right at the end that completely contradicts his actions a mere few minutes prior. Furlong is a decent actor, as evidenced in films like A Home of Our Own
and American History X
, but here his performance is a complete and utter mess.
The always-reliable Anthony Edwards (of TV's "ER"
) and the offbeat Clancy Brown thankfully give the film some bit of credibility and enjoyment. Edwards plays his character straight, and his innocence and warm-heartedness lends the film some emotional pull. Even in a scene as goofy as a man making love to a beautiful woman with a dog head(!
), Edwards keeps a straight face, and keeps the viewer interested. Clancy Brown, as Gus, has a good time with his role, and he is joyfully malicious and sinister throughout the movie. His presence is at times scary as well, providing for some of the only frights in the entire movie.
Other than Edwards and Brown, there isn't really much more to recommend of the film. Unlike the first film, which had a refreshingly downbeat ending, this one ends predictably and melodramatically, and is a real let down. Even the end credit song by The Ramones (who penned the catchy theme for the original film
) is a notch below their usual norm. Gore hounds should be quite impressed with the effects work here, but considering they take place mostly near the finale, it may be tough to stay awake that long. Jason fans though, should get a kick out of the homage to Paramount's indestructible character as Geoffrey dresses up as the masked maniac for Halloween.
In the end, Pet Sematary Two
is a real missed opportunity. It was heading in the right direction, with some decent cinematography and a ominous tone for the first half, but the story just collapsed as soon as the dead were revived, which is really when it should have taken off. While not quite as bad as Singleton's Graveyard Shift
, Pet Sematary Two
is not nearly as good as its predecessor. Seeing as King had no association with this film, there really shouldn't have been a sequel in the first place. To quote the plot description on the back of the DVD: "sometimes you should just let dead dogs lie".
Paramount presents the film in its original 1.85:1 ratio, enhanced for anamorphic televisions. The colors are rich and well detailed, and the sharpness of the film is eye opening. Everything appears nice and clear, and aside from a few speckles here and there, this is a very clean print. There was a scene near the latter part of the film (1:26:40
) where a blue line ran down the left part of the frame, but other than that there were no real flaws to be found with the transfer. In what has come to be expected from Paramount, this is a top-notch visual transfer.
Pet Sematary Two
is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround and French Stereo. While Paramount usually delivers with their 5.1 tracks, I found this one to be quite unimpressive. There is hardly any use of the surrounds, with even the music staying mostly upfront. In a scene where Gus lets out a deep laugh there is a nice surround effect, but other than that the surrounds remain largely underused. The dialogue and music sounds clear, and the overall sound comes through with some impressive depth, but the lack of use of the surrounds and of directional effects make the mix somewhat disappointing. Although still decent, compared to the work Paramount did for Graveyard Shift
, this is under whelming.
In traditional Paramount fashion, only a trailer is included as an extra. Although, this is one of the few Paramount releases where the "Special Features Not Rated" label is somewhat relevant. The trailer is the original red band trailer, as opposed to the usual green band, and is presented in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen. It contains some gore and blood featured in the film but not in the green band trailer. I remember seeing this trailer in theaters and being quite frightened, so it is nice that Paramount opted to include this over the watered down green band trailer.
Pet Sematary Two
is a far cry from the original in terms of quality, and not much of a film on its own standards. The first half is decent, but the latter half is insulting, and ultimately the movie is a big disappointment. The video transfer is excellent though, and the audio transfer is serviceable, if a bit under whelming. The inclusion of the red band trailer is a plus, but is still not enough to justify the hefty $24.95 price tag. Your money, and time, would be better spent on the original Pet Sematary.
Movie - C
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B
Supplements - C+
- Running time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Surround
- French Stereo
- English Subtitles
- Red band theatrical trailer