Review Date: September 8, 2000
Released by: Paramount
Release date: 9/19/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby), their two children - Gage (Miko Hughes) and Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) - and Church, the family cat, arrive at their beautiful new home in the country. Shortly after the arrival things go afoul when the swing Ellie is playing on breaks, causing both her and the swing to come crashing down to the ground. While Louis and Rachel are tending to Ellie, Gage decides to take a stroll onto the road in front of their house. He's nearly hit by a truck but is saved just in time by their new neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). Jud introduces himself to the new family and warns them of the road, which often has large trucks traveling down it. When questioned by Rachel as to where the path in their backyard leads, Jud explains that it is a "good story" that he'll tell them once they're settled.
That night Louis stops over his neighbor's house to have a beer. Jud explains that the path leads to "Pet Sematary", which exists because of the dangerous road and all the trucks that have run over many animals. The next day Jud brings the entire family down to the cemetary to show them around, explaining to the children why it was created and even pointing out where he buried his own dog, Skip, back in 1924, when he was just a boy. Not much is thought of the cemetary, though it does worry Ellie that her cat Church is doomed by the road. Louis promises that Church will be just fine and the family goes about their life; the children soon head off to their first day and school and Louis to his first day as a doctor in this new town.
Things start to get strange when Louis dreams of a dead patient, someone that was hit by a truck and died in the hospital during his shift. Louis did his best to save him but failed. Now the grotesque patient has come to help Louis, since Louis tried to help him he figures he should return the favor. He leads Louis down the cemetary and points to a pile of dead trees and branches that beings to glow, calling it a barrier was not meant to be crossed, where the ground beyond is sour. But sure enough Louis does cross that barrier - while the rest of his family is away, Jud calls Louis and tells him that he's found their cat Church, now dead, in his yard. Jud brings Louis past the barrier to an Indian burial ground where he tells Louis to bury the cat. The next day Church is back, alive but somehow different. With its glowing eyes and terrible stench it scratches Louis on the face and somehow manages to toss a dead rat at him while he's in the bath. Louis takes his new secret too far when Gage is accidentally killed by a truck. He takes Gage's body and buries it at the Indian burial ground. Sure enough Gage comes back, but just like the cat, Gage is different...quite different. The results are quite gruesome for all.
Pet Sematary isn't the type of movie that gives you lots of cheap scares. Instead, it slowly puts you into a state of fright which continues to build as the movie progresses. Personally, I prefer that much more than a cheap scare. It's all quite effective thanks to a wonderful story by Stephen King (keep an eye open for his cameo in the movie, which I've included as a screenshot in the Image Quality section), good acting from the entire cast and the excellent make-up effects. As I said, the entire case gave wonderful performances, but I really enjoyed Fred Gwynne, famous for his role as Herman Munster in the 60's TV show The Munsters. He's perfect as the next door neighbor who shares a secret that's best left a secret. On a side note, he died of cancer about 4 years after Pet Sematary was released. It's nice to see him give such a good performance in one of his final films.
I've read a lot of Stephen King books but Pet Sematary is one of the few that I have yet to read (sadly, Paramount's Dead Zone is another King book I haven't read). After seeing this movie I definitely plan on reading the book as soon as possible. The book is generally better than the movie, but that's hard to imagine in this case. With so many King books being made into horrible movies it's nice to see one of the occasional few that are made into a spectacular movie, which is exactly what Pet Sematary is.
Paramount presents Pet Sematary in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The transfer is absolutely gorgeous. The image is extremely detailed boasting a sharp image with strong, solid colors. Blacks are prefect and quite effective in the numerous nighttime scenes. Flesh tones are accurate as well. There are a few minor problems, however. Occasionally you'll see a few small print blemishes appear, such as the occasional speck of dirt or scratch. There's also a few scenes that have minor grain, and I even some some slight MPEG artifacts in a few scenes. These problems I mention are so few and far between that you may not even notice them.
It's easy to bash certain studios for giving us poor transfers on some of their older catalog titles. Fortunately, Paramount is not one of these studios. While they generally don't provide many extras, especially on older catalog titles, they have consistently given us spectacular transfers on everything they put out, both old and new. The Pet Sematary DVD is no exception with its spectacular transfer that is absolutely worthy of its A- rating.
Pet Sematary is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound re-mix. The new track is impressive, with rears and the LFE getting a good amount of usage during the action scenes. Sound was crisp and clear with no distortion.
Sadly there are no extras on the DVD, not even a theatrical trailer. Still, if I had to choose between extras or high quality video I'd certainly choose the latter, which is exactly what we get with this DVD.
Paramount did a wonderful job on the Pet Sematary DVD. While there are no extras to speak of, the audio and video quality is top notch. The movie itself is a classic in my book and I can easily recommend this DVD as a must purchase for any fan. For those who haven't seen the film, definitely rent the DVD and give it a try. You will not be disappointed.
Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A
Supplements - N/A
- Running time - 1 hour 42 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Surround
- French Dolby Surround
- English subtitles