Pet Sematary [1989]

The Stephen King Collection, a box set of four films, Graveyard Shift, The Dead Zone, Silver Bullet, and Pet Sematary, is great in that it provides viewers with a full range of King movies, from the truly eerie to the terrible. The set's two finest movies, The Dead Zone, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Christopher Walken, and Pet Sematary--arguably King's finest story adapted to film--both come as Special Collector's Editions, with excellent bonus material, including lengthy interviews with both Stephen King and the directors. Pet Sematary, shot in King's home territory, Maine, tells the story of city slickers Rachel and Louis Creed (Denise Crosby, Dale Midkiff), who move to the country to raise their daughter, Ellen, in peace. They learn that they've relocated onto a trucking thoroughfare, and Ellen consequently loses her pet cat. The plot quickly riffs out into mystical, traumatic territory. Louis's neighbor Jud Crandall takes Louis to ancient Indian burial grounds, where the dead are reanimated. The Creeds's zombie cat sparks this Frankenstein-ian adventure, pitting urban settings against rural, and the horrific against the pastoral. Pet Sematary looks more and more like Hitchcock, thanks to director Mary Lambert's careful attention to detail. The low point in the set is Graveyard Shift, a washed-up story about a cotton factory that's not only infested by carnivorous rats, but also hosts a dragon/pterodactyl. As night-shift employees get continuously munched, Bachman Mills' owner Mr. Warwick is forced to clean up squalid conditions, for which he hires a basement clean-up crew. Crew members are slaughtered as they try to combat their discovered behemoth, and grizzly scenes showing rats, humans, and the beast's head being chewed up in the cotton gin reduce Graveyard Shift to schlock gore. One is reminded of the intricacies involved in adapting books to film. As King has managed to be an integral part of his film projects, there are still successes and failures. All the movies in this set, though, still bear King's trademark, a love for "supernatural deadfall." --Trinie Dalton

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