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Pet Sematary (Blu-ray Review)

After moving to an idyllic home in the countryside, life seems perfect for the Creed family…but not for long. Louis and Rachel Creed and their two young children settle in to a house that sits next door to a pet cemetery – built on an ancient Indian burial ground. Their mysterious new neighbor; Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne), hides the cemetery’s darkest secret…until a family tragedy brings the secret to life. Now, an unthinkable evil is about to be resurrected. Making its debut on the Blu-ray format: Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Some things should just be left dead. “Sometimes dead is better.”

Film 

Pet Sematary is the 1989 horror film based off of Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name. It stars Dale Midkiff (Time Trax) and Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation). They’re a young married couple, who along with there two children, move into a large home out in the New England countryside. It’s the perfect nuclear American family. What they don’t realize is that evil lurks enxt door in the form of an old per cemetery used by the kids throughout the years to bury their beloved pets. Fred Gwynne (The Munsters, My Cousin Vinny) is their neighbor, Jud, from across the street. he comes bearing greetings and salutations before laying down the usual warning of dread: Do not go past the cemetery onto the mountain above it. Yeah, it’s a bit cumbersome, but the pet cemetery is only a cover. At the top of the mountain that can only be gotten to by an even more treacherous path, lies an ancient burial ground with mysterious power.

After an accident leaves the family cat as roadkill on the Creed’s lawn (the children did not witness the accident) Louis (Midkiff) and Jud decide to venture over to the burial ground to bury the feline just to bring closure to the whole event before the children find out what happened.

From here on out the horror angle gets kicked up a notch, because the cat does indeed come back from the dead to cause mischief and what not. The other problem is that since Louis was the one who put the cat into the ground, by default, belongs to him and not his daughter. There’s almost a chain of command there. Things really get heated when a family tragedy strikes the Creed household and Louis is forced to use to use the burial ground to make the wrong things right.

I’m a Stephen King fan to a certain extent, but not as hardcore as some. I can get down with some of his lighter works, 300 pages or so, but not the bigger volumes, because I don’t like when I’m at page 148 and he’s still introducing characters and back story when we should be knee-deep into the action. Pet Sematary, thankfully, is not a dense novel and neither is the movie, considering King also wrote the screenplay.

The film, in essence, is a zombie film, and a pretty effective one at that. The scares are where they need to be, the visual and make-up effects are great, etc. Some of the plotting in the film is a little vague and could have been explored. The glaring omission is that there’s this large Indian burial ground on the top of a mountain, but yet remains undiscovered. It’s weird because it can clearly be seen from over head by helicopter. Yeah, yeah, I’ll go ahead and suspend my disbelief there. The film also runs about 100-minutes, so it’s very compact – it isn’t one of these 10-hour miniseries that certain King adaptations get.

If you’ve never seen the film before I say that the Blu-ray will be the best way to discover it. It’s a lot of fun and it’s well made for a late 1980’s film.

Jud Crandall: The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. ‘Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own… always comes home to you.

 Video 

Pet Sematary is presented in 1080p, 1.85:1. Pet Sematary is almost 25 years old, but you wouldn’t necessarily know this, because the Blu-ray transfer is an exceptionally strong one. Grain levels are consistent and fantastic. They remain steady all the way through and DNR never gets in the way. Even the aerial shots, and there are a couple of them, look terrific. The film takes place in the New England countryside, so since it’s not as sunny as it should be, flesh tones remain natural, but somewhat muted. Colors are bold when they have to be, but otherwise most of the palette is very reserved. Contrast levels are steady and don’t look boosted, black levels are deep, without any noticeable crush. Banding was never a problem, and edge enhancement was also kept in check. Overall, Pet Sematary looks pretty damn good on Blu-ray!

Audio 

Pet Sematary is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. You know it can get a little iffy when it comes to these lossless catalog releases that are sometimes just a boosted version of a stereo presentation. I’m glad to report that that is NOT the case with the Pet Sematary Blu-ray. Dialogue sounds crystal clear, even with Gwynne’s heavy southern accent, and there was never a problem in understanding what people were saying. The rear channels were especially amazing towards to the end of the film. Watch for creepy directional voices traveling back and forth through the left and right rear channels. The sense of depth is amazing. The LFE channel was also put to good use during the scenes of ominous danger in the pet cemetery. I’ll go so far as to say that Pet Sematary is one of the better sounding catalog Blu-ray releases I’ve heard recently.

Extras 

The extras on the Pet Sematary Blu-ray seem to have been ported over from a DVD release. They’re newer, but the resolution is off quite a bit and they’re intercut with footage from the set. Timed, the featurettes run about ten minutes each, but it’s one of those featurettes that was originally full length, but got split into three separate featurettes instead. They’re neat and informative. Rounding out the special features we get a pretty good audio commentary track from director Mary Lambert.

  • Commentary by Director Mary Lambert
  • Stephen King Territory
  • The Characters
  • Filming the Horror

Summary 

Pet Sematary has a lot of things going for it – mainly that it’s not as self indulgent as your typical Stephen King flick, but that also doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are a more than a few plot holes throughout the film. It works as a self contained story that reminded me of the Tales From the Crypt television show. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. The technical specifications on this Blu-ray are up to snuff, but the overall score loses some traction due to there not being as many special features on the disc. I still recommend Pet Sematary on Blu-ray, though. “Now I want to play with yoooou…”

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Pet Sematary (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    You ever see the movie Wake Wood?

    Although it’s very low budget, I believe it effectively covered grounds here more than PS

    http://whysoblu.com/wake-wood-blu-ray-review/

    Don;t get me wrong. Didn’t hate PS…just was disappointed by it. It terrified me as a kid, but having just recently watched it completely through for the first time now…I think they tried to do too much here as opposed to focusing on the main narrative.

    But either way…this is a genre bending classic IMO. Rise of the dead!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I also always thought Miko Hughes was a creepy little kid.