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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 9/28/00

Pet Sematary
1989 (2000) - Paramount

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Pet Sematary Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B-/F

Specs and Features

102 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"It says: "Pet Sematary", honey. It's misspelled, but that's what it says."

"I don't wanna be buried in a pet cemetery. I don't wanna live my life again." Ah... The Ramones. Anybody remember that song? When I told Bill I was reviewing this film for the site, I started singing it - you know, just to punctuate it. He apparently totally forgot about that song. Silly rabbit - The Ramones aren't just for kids. Anyway, I like this flick. I always have. In fact, there's a little contest in Total Film where they ask you for a film to fit into the Top 20 Scariest Films of all time, and I think someone should enter this film. It has some real moments in it that send chills down my spine every single time I see it. The sister in the back bedroom just bothers the hell out of me. Do check this one out for the Halloween viewing season.

Stephen King has gone on record claiming that this is about the only thing he's written that scares him. When he came up with the idea, he shelved it... because he was afraid of it. That is until his publisher coaxed him into releasing it after his statement about how much this idea scared him went public. Indeed, the book is very frightening. On all sorts of complicated levels. You have realistic and heart-wrenching death, zombies who don't quite lumber, a demon cat and Fred Gwynne trying out his Maine accent. Ahhhhhhhhhh! The film is a slightly condensed version of the book, but since it was King himself doing the condensing, Pet Sematary was actually the first really good adaptation of one of his books to film. Now with The Green Mile, Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption, it's hard to say that it's the best adaptation. But trust me... it really is the scariest.

Louis Creed is a doctor that's moved his family from Chicago to Maine to work at the local college. His house sits across the street from old-timer Jud, who warns him to fix his cat because the street that divides their yards is streaming with tractor trailers that speed by at a constant rate. Once Jud shows Louis and his family an old pet cemetery full of animals killed by the same road at the end of a path on Louis's property, Louis heeds his advice. But poor, poor Louis can't keep the inevitable down and Church (his cat) is hit by a truck and killed. Poor kitty. Louis's two kids, Gage (the little boy) and Ellie (his girl), will be heart broken... that is, until Jud tells Louis about the other pet cemetery - the one hidden behind the brush and fallen trees. The one he was warned about in a dream. The one that brings dead things back to life. You can probably guess what happens next, so if you haven't seen the film already, try it out. It'll scare the shite out of you.

Pet Sematary has its problems. Some of the acting is a bit internalized (too much so for a frickin' horror film), some of the effects (of the blue screen variety) are cheesy and while I like the concept of the ending (which is the same in the book), I think it should have ended before the extension of the ending. If you've seen the film, I think you know what I'm getting at. If you haven't, once you do I think you'll agree. But for the most part, all of the make-up effects are pretty cool and ultra-realistic and the story and pace are pitch perfect. It's a great way to kill an hour and a half.

The DVD boasts an anamorphic transfer that preserves the film quite well. The transfer seems to be a little dark and the print itself shows signs of age, like scratches and dust. But it still looks pretty good. There aren't any moiré or edge enhancement problems and you should see not a lick of compression artifacting. It's a very pleasing picture. The sound is presented in dual Dolby Digital tracks (2.0 and 5.1), but both sound a bit hollow. The 5.1 track is very active in the rear channels and quite playful at times. But the dialogue is a bit on the stiff side. I'd call it a nice try. The 2.0 is fine and shows some of the same problems the 5.1 track, which tells me it's a source issue and not a mixing problem.

Extras are not to be found at all, which is a shame. I'd have to think there would be something around - even Fangoria articles would have helped round this disc out a bit more. Oh, well. For a movie only disc it's a good presentation.

For what it is, Pet Sematary is a nice disc. A good worthwhile haunting film in anamorphic widescreen, with okay sound and no extras. If you're not expecting much, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you wanted a two-disc set... well, get ready to get mad. I can live with this, 'cause I like the film. It's eleven years later and I'm still scared by half of it. That says something. Whether it says more about the film or me, I don't care to answer.

Todd Doogan
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