“…I got cat class, and I got cat style.”–Stray Cats
When I was little boy, I had a cat named Iggy. He was fun cat to play with and he always had a sense of adventure. It makes me smile while I reminisce about Iggy, like when he ran amuck about the house one rainy day when mother was away. Iggy and I used to go for long Sunday drives in search of lasagna. Iggy wasn’t the best driver but boy oh boy, did we have some fun times and wicked wrecks. Iggy and I still keep in touch now and again, as I get postcards from him. Iggy owns a retirement kitty condo in the Canary Islands and is enjoying his retirement. I’m glad Iggy and I never had to face the horrors like our characters did in today’s feature that was released 26 years ago on this date, Pet Sematary (1989).
Dr. Louis Creed, Dale Midkiff of Flight of the Living Dead (2007), after accepting a position with the University of Maine moves his family from the hustle and bustle of Chicago to the sleepy, small town Ludlow. The Creeds fall in love with their idyllic new abode though it is adjacent to a busy road frequented by Ramones blaring, fast driving truckers. Daughter Ellie, Blaze Berdahl of Ghostwriter (1992), is out exploring the woods behind their house and discovers a trail where she meets friendly neighbor Jud, Fred Gwynne of The Munsters (1964). Jud offers to show her where it leads, she agrees and they wander the wooded trail that ends at the “Pet Sematary,” where local children have buried their beloved pets over the years.
Their transition to Maine is met with great stress when Louis is the doctor on call in the emergency room and unable to save the life of an accident victim, Victor, Brad Greenquist of Ali (2001). Dead, visceral Vic, gore and all whose presence is similar to the dead friend in An American Werewolf in London (1981), now haunts Louis (falls on deaf ears) to warn him of the impending threat as their family home and pet cemetery are located next to a cursed Native American burial ground. Sometime passes, and more family drama is created when Ellie’s cat Church, is made into a fluffy hood ornament (8 lives left) by a semi-trailer roaring down trucker’s road. MEEE-OOOUCH. Louis, with the assistance of Jud, buries Church at the “real” cemetery, the Native American burial ground. Church reanimates, its temperament has changed drastically and is now one bad putty tat.
More tragedy befalls the family, when little son Gage, Miko Hughes of Mercury Rising (1998), falls victim to 18 wheels (and a dozen roses) on the dang road (someone really needs to talk to city council about this road). Louis, now desperate to bring his son back to life, buries Gage on the cursed ground against Jud’s stern warning of the Pandora’s Box he is about to open. Louis’s stubbornness brings forth horror, kooky cats, and creepy corpse kids (“Daddy, now I play with youuuu…”), to infest the once happy home.
Pet Sematary was directed by Mary Lambert of Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011), with a screenplay by Stephen King of Creepshow (1982), based off his novel of the same title that was inspired by his own real life. Pet Sematary was a box office success though it was torn to pieces by film critics. Pet has gone on to inspire a sequel, Pet Sematary II (1992), which should have been just left in the litter box where it came from. Rumors have it a remake is in the works and stuck in development hell but a documentary has been filmed and awaiting a release date.
Legendary director and close friend to King, George Romero of The Night of the Living Dead (1968) was originally slated to direct Pet Sematary but was busy on Monkey Shines (1988) and Tom Savini of Maniac (1980), turned down the chance to direct. Lambert did a good job at the helm of Pet, but it would have been neat to see Romero’s take on the material. Bruce Campbell was also the first choice for the role of Louis, which would have definitely been groovy.
Pet is a very fun fright flick to take in, as there is some humor (King making a cameo as a minister), gruesome makeup, and a very memorable, disturbing scene with Zelda, a sister from the past, that’s body is afflicted with severe spinal meningitis. Overall, I think you will really enjoy Pet Sematary and is must see if you are a King fan, 80’s horror fan, addicted to nip, or dig dead pets.
So, if you have a cat, give it a hug or high 5 and tell it thank you for accepting you. Your cat definitely does own you; it’s not the other way around. Remember what the writer/filmmaker Jean Cocteau shared, “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
- Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker, film/music historian, and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rick.baldwin.568
- Twitter Rick Baldwin@rickbaldwin79 and firstname.lastname@example.org