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Pet Sematary (1989)

Playing with the idea of life after death, or more so, the idea of what remains of your consciousness if you were to come back from the dead is a concept that often plays on my mind. The endless possibilities and theories surrounding such an unanswerable question is a notation that I think Stephen King handles in such a unique way. Although I have never read the original source material, considering that King also wrote the screenplay for 'Pet Sematary' I have to assume it's a faithful transition to screen. I felt director Mary Lambert does a great job of bringing this story to life. Her cinematography and use of eerie camera angles really provides a constant feel of unease and discomfort. Creating such an atmospheric and nightmarish horror movie, I was amazed to learn that she never went on to have a successful career in film making after this. The cast features the late great Fred Gwynne who plays friendly neighbour Jud Crandall and acts as all things exposition here to the Creed family. Gwynne is an excellent actor who delivers a legendary performance. The child acting, along with so many other great 80s horror movies, is superb. Both Miko Hughes (playing Gage) and his older sister Ellie (played by Blaze Berdahl) are so convincing for such young actors. I found the weakest of the bunch to come from lead Dale Midkiff who plays Louis. And although he certainly has his shinning moments, especially in the scenes post Gage's death, as a whole I just found his performance to be rather underwhelming. Whilst minimal on kills, 'Pet Sematary' is certainly not short on amazing practical effects and makeup design. The most noteworthy being in the creation of Rachel's sister Zelda and the bloodied spirit of Victor Pascow - both of these being extremely creative and haunting to look at. The only true onscreen kill we get to see is that of Jud, and his death at the hands of a newly resurrected Gage is nothing short of perfection. This scene is one of my earliest memory's as a horror fan and is still one of the greatest horror deaths the genre has seen. 'Pet Sematary', although not as well-loved as many of Stephen King's other adaptations such as 'Misery', 'IT' or even 'The Mist', is still for me my favourite take on any of his novel to on screen catalogue. Whether that is an opinion I have based on concept or overall execution remains unknown. Even though this film is beginning to look slightly dated, it is still, and will continue to be a regular watch for me and sits firmly at top end of my all time favourite horror films.


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