Pet Sematary (1989)

pet sematary poster 1989 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visual: 7/10

Some nice scares, creepy premise

Script is a bit clunky and some plot points don't make sense

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Pet Sematary

Studio:  Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  April 21, 1989

MPAA Rating:  R

pet sematary church cat hd

Who’s a good kitty?

Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby), their daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), and their young son Gage (Miko Hughes) have just moved from Chicago to a new home in Maine.  When their neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) introduces them to the pet cemetery in the woods behind their home, something sinister begins.  Ellie’s cat Winston Churchill (aka Church) dies, and Jud reveals to Louis to the Native American burial ground beyond the cemetery’s deadfall border.  Church comes back…but different.  The burial ground is hungry and coming closer and closer to Louis and his family.  When the busy road they live on claims a life, the real horror begins.

pet sematary indian burial ground

Seems perfectly logical to bury my pet here

Directed by Mary Lambert, Pet Sematary adapts the 1983 novel by Stephen King who also penned the screenplay.  The movie was met with mixed reviews and nominated for a Razzie for Worst Original Song “Pet Sematary” by the Ramones (which was hated by most fans of the band as well).

Pet Sematary was one of Stephen King’s creepier novels.  Everyone loses pets as a child and everyone wishes you could have them back.  King based the story on how he really lost a pet and   wished it could come back.  Death is death, and Pet Sematary is a warning of how it should not be crossed.

pet sematary zelda sister

I’m not a zombie kid…but I am just about as scary

The novel had a lot of stuff happening in it, and King tried to incorporate this into the script…unfortunately, he put too much.  The story seems fast at points and slow at other points.  I realize what Jud’s character was trying to do by showing the burial grounds to Louis, but the movie doesn’t make it seem like a realistic jump since he knows the darkness of the place.  It also feels almost unnecessary for them to bring in Rachel’s sister Zelda (played by a man named Andrew Hubatsek) though she is creepy and the movie also just ends up relying on too much “magic” to move the story forward.  A lot of the events are in the novel, but it needed to be cleaned up to work here.

pet sematary gage top hat miko hughes

More terrifying than Gage with a scalpel is Gage dressed like this

Despite being clunky, the movie does have some good scares…but mostly in the form of basic jumps.  Church will be around the corner and jump out, Gage will be around the corner, and jump out…etc., etc.  The ending of the movie automatically gets scares due to a killer kid (what’s more terrifying).  It also is totally unrealistic.  How do the bodies move all over the place?  I don’t think that coming back as a zombie toddler makes you super-humanly strong…how could he move the 6’ 5” Fred Gwynn or hang Denise Crosby from the attic…It provides a jump, but makes little sense.

Pet Sematary is a fun little ride, but it does have a lot of problems.  What could be a nice tight horror story is rather clunky.  Stephen King does make an appearance in the film as a minister and the movie does have a sense of authentic setting since it was shot in Maine.  Pet Sematary was followed by a sequel Pet Sematary 2 in 1992 and a remake in 2019.

Related Links:

Pet Sematary (2019)

Pet Sematary 2 (1992)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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