Pet Sematary

Year: 1989
Studio: Paramount
Director: Mary Lambert
Writer: Stephen King
Cast: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne
I wasn't quite over my fear of horror movies post- An American Werewolf in London when I saw this, so I've never felt such dread going into a cinema – dread occasional visits by undead jogger Victor and flashbacks of Rachel's meningitis-afflicted sister Zelda bought into awful relief.

Seen again today I'd probably wonder what I was so worried about. The story of a cursed Indian burial ground isn't as scary or gory as many films since have been. But there's something about the classic Stephen King archetype that the film (as always) only partly addresses and captures.

In this case, it's a very simple question. If you weren't ready to say goodbye and had the power to bring those you loved back from the dead, would you do it even if they came back insane, murderous and evil?

Louis (Midkiff, one of the most famous incantations of Elvis on screen) does when he moves into rural Maine and his infant son Gage is run over by a truck. Beyond an abandoned pet cemetery way behind the Creed property is an even eerier place, a patch of ground where the local natives buried their dead in ages past.

But (and this is the classic King element), the land so suffused with spirits has turned sour, and now it exhumes those who grace it considerably changed for the worse.

Director Lambert stepped in after George A Romero passed, and while Romero would have made it into a great splatter movie, you can't help feeling it needed the more dramatic, less stylised treatment it got. Maybe the reason I found it so scary was because it's wasn't a so-gory-it's-funny zombie holocaust but a real family with such a horrible thing in their world.

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