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For most families, moving is a new beginning. But for the Creeds, it could be the beginning of the end.
For more about Pet Sematary and the Pet Sematary Blu-ray release, see the Pet Sematary Blu-ray Review
Starring: Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Miko Hughes, Stephen King, Dale Midkiff
Director: Mary Lambert
» See full cast & crew
Pet Sematary Blu-ray Review
The dead speak more clearly on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 2, 2012
Sometimes, death is better.
Stephen King's mind is a pretty interesting place to visit, though perhaps nobody but King himself and his financial advisor would want to call it home. King is not only, perhaps, the all-time great Horror author but also the owner of one of the most creative minds in the history of literature, conjuring up frightening tales and disturbed details quite unlike any writer before him. He's also one of the best pure writers in the business. Every novel and short story spring to life with rich character development, robust settings, and enthralling plots. King's published pieces are of a consistently high quality, not to mention financially lucrative and reliably entertaining. Most of his works-turned-films aren't too shabby, either. 1989's Pet Sematary isn't the best of the bunch -- it's not The Shining -- but it's a high quality film translation, sourced from the novel of the same name and King's own screenplay, that delivers an eerie story wrapped up in an uneasy atmosphere that ultimately yields a truly horrific series of events that will test the mettle of any viewer with a conscience as it delves into the darkest corners of the supernatural and the unimaginable, sourced from the disturbed yet brilliant mind of one of literature's finest authors.
The Creed family -- father Louis (Dale Midkiff), mother Rachel (Denise Crosby), daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl), and infant son Gage (Miko Hughes) -- have just moved into an old rural home situated alongside a road that sees a steady stream of heavy, speedy industrial truck traffic that takes the lives of so many local pets that a nearby piece of land has been set aside to bury the dead. Louis has just accepted a position to serve as the chief doctor at a local college. Soon after arriving, the family meets its new neighbor, an elderly gentleman named Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne). On his first day at work, Louis finds himself fighting to save a young man (Brad Greenquist) struck by a truck. Before the bloody patient dies, he issues a warning to Louis and, somehow, knows the doctor's name. That night, Louis sees the victim in his dreams; he's warned not to travel beyond the pet cemetery. When the family cat, Church, is killed by a truck, Jud and Louis, on Jud's suggestion, take it beyond the pet cemetery to an old Indian burial ground with supernatural powers, powers that Louis cannot understand and that may be spell the beginning of the end for the Creed family as foretold by Louis' mystery patient.
Pet Sematary intermixes the best and worst of life in one challenging motion picture that swings so far on the scale of emotional involvement that it's apt to leave audiences as dizzy as they are frightened and disturbed. There are few stories that are prone to generating such a constant sense of unease in the audience as this. The movie telegraphs much of what's coming once the primary plot device -- a cemetery capable of reviving the dead -- is established, but it's that sense of apprehension and dread that's just as effective as, if not more so than, a more pure mystery. Nevertheless, the movie's weakest point comes just before a crucial scene involving a speeding truck, the one scene that would have benefited from the absence of foreknowledge. The film cuts back and forth between an idyllic family-plus-one picnic and a speeding truck that settles the audience into accepting the coming fate rather than having viewers suddenly struck by the event. The scene would have worked better had the event taken place in an instant with no warning whatsoever; the speeding truck angle was already well-established and the back-and-forth takes away from the immediacy and terror of the scene rather than adding to it. Nevertheless, Pet Sematary does otherwise work very well as a movie with a fairly transparent plot, one in which the audience is more fearful of the inevitable than the surprise. And that's a mark of a very good story and, here also, a quality film.
The film is also very well acted and assembled. Fred Gwynne takes command of the picture as a man with mysterious motives and an all-too-personal understanding of what lies beyond the pet cemetery and what that means for the Creed family future. Gwynn shapes his character into one who is both friendly and dark, both interesting and dangerous all at once. The young Miko Hughes plays the film's most critical character, Gage, with equal happy-go-lucky childlike charm and flamboyance -- he basically plays any small child -- and, later, a decidedly different performance that marks the film's most disturbing but at the same time dramatically rich and terrifyingly robust element. The parents, played by Denise Crosby and Dale Midkiff, are neither brilliant nor disappointing in the film; their problem is competing with a better-built character in Jud Crandall and a more charming performer in Miko Hughes. Director Mary Lambert (who would go on to direct Pet Sematary II) captures the essence of the story quite well, crafting a world that's initially idyllic and dangerous and slowly drawing the audience into acceptance of the inevitable and easing them into a sense of fear and unease the closer the picture moves towards its emotionally draining final act.
Pet Sematary Blu-ray, Video Quality
Pet Sematary makes its Blu-ray debut with a satisfying but occasionally troubling 1080p transfer. Paramount's transfer offers some brilliantly bright daytime scenes that reveal good color balance across the board, notably in green grasses and blue skies. The image is rich and alive with natural shades on clothes and inside and out of the two primary house locations. Flesh tones appear accurate, but black levels fluctuate a bit, occasionally going a little paler than necessary. The transfer retains a layer of film grain, but details range from good to rather pasty and flat. The transfer picks up very fine clothing nuances, for example, but faces often appear quite smooth and devoid of complex details. The image is rather sharp throughout, however, never going at all soft and capturing crisp, even details even at a distance. The transfer does showcase a bit of edge enhancement here and there that produces visible halos around some objects. Fortunately, the end result isn't ruinous to the image, and not even particularly distracting given that it seems fairly limited and not a constant source of aggravation. This isn't the sort of transfer that will dazzle audiences -- despite how bright and, often, nicely detailed it may be -- but Paramount's effort is fair for a midrange, aging catalogue release.
Pet Sematary Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Pet Sematary comes to life on Blu-ray with a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Paramount's sound presentation offers some robust elements and steady surround attributes. From the beginning, this track impresses with its clear, well-spaced music. The track is fairly aggressive here and elsewhere, providing full spacing and a solid low end. The opening voiceovers are nicely placed about the stage, creating a wide, encircling sort of haunting environment that plays well with the on-screen images and helps set a specific tone for what's to come. The presentation also offers some fine woodland ambience that helps set the stage in some of the picture's more serene, tranquil moments, and in airport scene in chapter eleven the track provides a nice finishing touch of ambient surround activity. The heavy and steady barrage of truck noises do create a sense of impending doom; the rumbling is defined by good, positive bass, and the vehicles dash from one end of the stage to the other in several key scenes. Some of the action and haunting moments are also accompanied by deep, penetrating bass. Dialogue is clear and accurate, grounded in the center for the duration. Pet Sematary's lossless soundtrack isn't the sort one might choose for demo purposes, but it's a good all-around presentation that supports the movie -- its key scenes in particular -- very well.
Pet Sematary Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Pet Sematary contains the following four supplements:
Pet Sematary Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Pet Sematary is one of the more chilling of Stephen King's tales, a decidedly dark and uncomfortable glimpse into tragedy, the supernatural, and the lengths to which man will go to preserve his most cherished assets. The movie is eerie and foreboding. It's very well crafted, nicely acted, and quite gripping and uneasy even as the picture lacks much in the way of real dramatic surprise. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Pet Sematary features good video and audio presentations. A few extras are included. Recommended.
Pet Sematary: Other Editions
Pet Sematary Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Pet Sematary - September 30, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of Pet Sematary, director Mary Lambert's 1989 adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. The late '80s frightfest raises the dead on Blu-ray on October ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: October 2-9 - September 30, 2012
Horror-themed features dominate the major Blu-ray releases for the week beginning on October 2nd. First up is Universal Studios' highly anticipated Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection box set, which compiles together nine monster movies from the ...
• Pet Sematary Blu-ray - July 12, 2012
In the fall, Paramount Home Media Distribution will bring Pet Sematary to Blu-ray. Adapted by bestselling author Stephen King from his own novel, this horror-thriller examines the supernatural happenings surrounding a small-town pet cemetery. Pet Sematary streets ...
» Show more related news posts for Pet Sematary Blu-ray
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