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Blu-ray Review: Pet Sematary: 30th Anniversary Edition

March 27, 2019

By John Corrado

Leading up to the release of the new adaptation on April 5th, Paramount is releasing the original 1989 film version of Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary on Blu-ray this week in a brand new 30th anniversary edition.

The story follows Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), a doctor who moves with his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) and their two kids Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) and Gage (Miko Hughes) to a rural house in the small town of Ludlow, Maine.

Their house backs onto a path in the woods that leads to a place called “Pet Sematary,” which their elderly neighbour Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) explains to them is a final resting place for beloved animals. It also happens to be situated near an ancient Native American burial ground, that has the ability to raise the dead.

When his daughter’s beloved cat gets killed by one of the passing trucks that speed along the dirt road between their house and their neighbour’s property, Louis buries the animal on the grounds, to avoid her having to face the animal’s death. But the creatures that return from the grave don’t come back the same, which Louis soon finds out when another tragedy strikes and he makes a drastic decision, despite increasingly dire warnings from the ghost of a dead emergency room patient (Brad Greenquist).

The film is notable for having a screenplay that was written by King himself, and for the most part Pet Sematary is a solid adaptation of the author’s 1983 novel, which he still considers to be one of his most terrifying literary works. It does feel somewhat dated, including some special effects that appear cheesy by current standards, and admittedly make the film seem a bit campy at times. But there is also an underlying feeling of dread running throughout the film that is still effective all these years later.

Director Mary Lambert brings a sense of foreboding to the film, and there is an eeriness and creepiness to the story in the way that it deals with themes of dying and parental grief. This is really a story about a family struggling to accept the inevitability and finality of death, and it’s these ideas that allow the story to get under our skin. As we await the new one, this version of Pet Sematary is still worth seeing as an entertaining and at times genuinely unsettling horror movie from the 1980s.

The Blu-ray includes the two new featurettes Pet Sematary: Fear and Remembrance, which mainly focuses on the forthcoming remake and features interviews with members of the new film’s cast and crew; and Pet Sematary: Revisitation, which features Lambert reflecting upon her experience making the original film and the restoration process that it went through for this release.

The disc also has a trio of photo galleries that allow us to scroll through some of the original storyboards, production images and marketing materials, as well as the three previously released featurettes Stephen King Territory, The Characters and Filming the Horror, which are carried over from the original Blu-ray release along with a commentary track by Lambert.

Pet Sematary is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release. It’s 102 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: March 26th, 2019

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