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Unearthed & Untold: The Path To Pet Sematary – Special Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was adapted into quite a popular 1989 film that stands as one of his more popular works that wound up getting a sequel (Can someone please put that one on Blu-ray next, please) like the Children of the Corn films and the Sometimes They Come Back films. Its had two Blu-ray releases that had some okay bonus materials included. However, now, we get Unearthed & Untold: The Path To Pet Sematary which is a feature-length documentary chronicling the first film. With no big desire from the studio that holds the rights to do a big collector’s edition or beefed up release (In this age of streaming, this is scaringly becoming a norm), this documentary sits alone. But in all honesty, its that “Disc 2” you’re wanting to go with your standard Blu-ray release of it. Like the Creepshow one before, Synapse Films is adding the Pet Sematary one now to their catalog. You can order it (Released on March 13th) using the Amazon link below.

Film 

It’s true that sometimes dead is better, but for two New England filmmakers, the story of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was far too alluring to leave buried. That’s why John Campopiano and Justin White spent nearly five years seeking to uncover the story – from book, to film, to cult status – amounting to the most comprehensive look at the horror classic ever produced.

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is both an in-depth independent documentary and celebration of King’s classic tale of terror, told through the voices of cast and crew from the 1989 hit film, as well as locals in Maine – the place where it all started. In addition to first time ever interviews, tours of the many iconic locations used in the film and never-before-seen photographs and home video from the set, this film explores the impact PET SEMATARY has not only on horror fans, but scholars of Stephen King’s work. Featuring interviews with director Mary Lambert, stars Denise Crosby, Dale Midkiff, Miko Hughes, Brad Greenquist, Andrew Hubatsek, Susan Blommaert, the Berdahl twins, Michael Lombard and many more.

Horror fans are probably some of the ones to credit for wanting to have the biggest interest in knowing all the behind the scenes people, places and processes about their favorite films. From the devotion to Fangoria, to conventions to the creation of such documentaries as Never Sleep Again, names like Tom Savini or Greg Nicotero aren’t just ones in a cluster scrolling up at the end of the movie, they are rock stars. And after showing an autograph poster from a convention to a friend, which led to traveling to visit the sets of the film, realizing the horror documentaries that had recently been coming to great praise, two friends set out to make one on the Stephen King adaptation of Pet Sematary.

There’s a template set by the masterpiece of Never Sleep Again that others have taken and followed and made it hard NOT to succeed in doing so.  John Campopiano and Justin White create a feature length journey told through interviews, pictures and footage that give a full picture on a classic Stephen King film that I didn’t realize I actually wanted. Not being constrained to making a super tight bonus feature, this movie is able to cover all the grounds in detail and reaction, moving through the entirety of the film and touching upon everything a super fan of the film would want to see discussed.

What makes this such a fun endeavor and a bold reach on Blu-ray, is that someone decided “Fine, if you’re not going to put effort into making a definitive Blu-ray/DVD release of this popular film, then I’ll take it upon myself to produce the missing pieces”. Now, via two separate releases, Pet Sematary fans HAVE that special edition of the movie. And if you want, you could make your own special key art and slip cover and really have at it. This is it, this documentary and its own accompanying bonus features truly complete the Pet Sematary Blu-ray and home video experience.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: This Pet Sematary documentary comes to Blu-ray with an overall stronger looking image that retains some good detail and impressively displays still images of photographs and the like. Some of the interview segments look a little like an SD upconvert, but they still look quite fine and look good. There are many different sources videos on display from the new interviews and set visits, to news stories, photos and VHS on-set videos. All of them look to the best of their ability in coming to a high definition format.

Depth:  There are many different types of video on display, but the interview segments are above average and come across as smooth and natural in the movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep, natural and maintain pretty much all detail. Shading and shadow work looks really nice here in the interview sections.

Color Reproduction: Colors in the modern footage are pretty natural with a solid, bolder finish. Wooded areas have stronger greens.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent. The talking heads allow you to see skin lines, wrinkles, blemishes, freckles, bags under the eyes and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean. Old footage may have some defectiveness to them that are inherent in their source.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: I’m not sure why this was done in 5.1, as for this type of thing a 2.0 would more than suffice, but they’ve done it here. In terms of quality, the mix is well balanced and sounds pretty intricate. This is led by its vocals, which are quite clear with a nice underlying score to everything.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Any sort of deep sounds pretty much are left to being from the bass in the score of the film.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is obviously a majority frontloaded track. Mostly music emanates through the rear channels and does the motion. The mix is aware to a person’s position from center.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Most interviews come off with a pretty similar audio quality and presence, which can be tough to do for something as low budget as this project was.

Extras 

Unearthed & Untold: The Path To Pet Sematary – Special Edition comes with reversible cover art featuring a different cover design.

Audio Commentary

  • With Creators John Campopiano and Justin White
  • Podcast Commentary with Creators John Campopiano and Justin White

Edited/Alternate Scenes (HD, 8:30) 

Video Interview With Creators John Campopiano and Justin White (HD, 7:32) – The two talk the origins of the film coming from their desire to revisit the locations from the movie and then feeling that people would be interested in a full tale of this Stephen King classic. They go over the difficulties of finding the cast and such and doing it quite amateurly.

PET TALES: From The Cutting Room Floor (HD, 18:27) – Moments and stories that were excised from the final film because they side tracked the narrative are included here as a bonus feature. Includes Denise Crosby, Rhonda Carter, Mary Lambert, the twins, Brad Greenquist and more.

PET SEMATARY Location Photo Compilation (HD, 2:02)

Documentary Poster Art Concepts (HD, :38) 

Rare On-Set Video Footage From Rhonda Carter (SD, 6:35) – Its pretty much 1 video taken across the street from where a scene was shooting.

Documentary Sizzle Reel (HD, 4:07) – Plays kind of as an elongated trailer for the film.

Promotional Trailer HD, 2:54)

Summary 

Unearthed & Untold: The Path To Pet Sematary is nothing unlike the work you see on Arrow Video or Shout Factory releases that make them so great. People may find it weird to just buy a disc with special features and not the film, but we went crazy over documentaries similar like Never Sleep Again, More Brains! and Crystal Lake Memories. This is no different. Plus, think about it – Pet Sematary is $7.99 on Blu-ray is $24.95. You’d then roughly be paying $32.99 for essentially a 2-Disc collector’s edition Blu-ray of Pet Sematary. Which, that’s not unheard of or out of line in terms of boutique label pricing when within a couple months of being released. Chances are, you already have Pet Sematary. Synapse Films release is the ultimate companion to the film, and if you’re a fan of the film, then this is something you’re easily going to want.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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