Kids love kitties. It's a fact. And why wouldn’t they? Kitties are furry, cute, they say 'meow' and have tickly whiskers. But undead kitties aren't nearly so sweet.
Meet Church, pre-death. He's the pampered pet of a lovely little girl named Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), the proverbial apple of her eye. He's a savvy fur-ball, but he's no match for the dangers of the great outdoors. So when the four-footed feline is flattened by an 18-wheeler on the highway, Ellie's dad makes a fateful decision.
Louis (Dale Midkiff) cannot bear to see his daughter's heart broken. So, on the awesome advice of creepy neighbor Jud (Fred Gwynne), Church's broken body is buried in the infamous Pet Sematary.
This is a Stephen King story folks, so the cracked-up cat is inevitably imbued with life-restoring black magic and comes crawling home a different puss altogether. Yes, "Sometimes dead is better."
And guess what happens when Louis's youngest child, Gage (Miko Hughes), also decides to go play on the freeway? Yup. Break out the shovels and supernatural shenanigans.
But this is an old movie (23 years old). To say a lot about it, especially here on horror.com, is preaching to the choir. I mean, really: A ghost, a zombie cat, a murderous toddler, and Herman Munster... What's not to love?
There's even more to love with the release of this brand new, fully restored, and absolutely gorgeous Blu-ray. First off, the lenticular slipcover is way cool — it pops. Usually, I throw slipcovers away but this one's here to stay. The Blu-ray looks super sharp in its 1080p transfer and the original aspect ratio 1.85:1. The audio track included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which not only augments the wonderful Elliot Goldenthal score (and The Ramones tune!) but you could even hear a blood-drop drop.
When it comes to the extra features, I must confess I have never seen or owned any previous editions of Pet Sematary so I do not know if the commentary and whatnot are new. (Even the press release doesn't say so.) Since they're new to me, I went ahead and delved in. I loved the 'Guided Tour of the Set' from Stephen King, shot and produced back in 1989. He may not be the best actor (yeah… there's the obligatory SK cameo in Pet Sematary, too… he's a preacher), but I really like him on-camera as an interviewee and here, as our ghoulish guide of the spooky cemetery and everywhere in-between. Good stuff.
There're also featurettes on the characters in the story, interviews with the actors (both from back in the day, and recently — Brad Greenquist, who was the brain-dribbling football star apparition in the film, is quite a card and shares some super stories), and whatnot. But by far the best feature is the commentary by director Mary Lambert.
Lambert shares the usual stories about casting, what it was like to shoot certain scenes, how she got the job, etc., etc. But, unlike most helmer's yak tracks, she offers insight to her own mindset not only about the facts of the filmmaking, but the underlying issues of death, grief, horror as a genre, and our/her beliefs on what happens after we die. She talks about being a mother, and why movies which explore these themes, even if in a fanciful, fictional manner, are important. I usually only spot-check director commentaries (with a few exceptions: David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro, etc.) but Lambert's is well worth a thorough listen.
There was so much I'd forgotten about Pet Sematary. As with so many movies I've only seen once or twice years ago, my mind only contained Cliff's Notes memories. It's really a terrific horror movie, and I am grateful Paramount has released this Blu-ray version. At just under $20 SRP, dead *is* better!
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson