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"Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

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"Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Old 09-23-15, 12:06 AM
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"Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29





Pet Sematary (1989)



Selected by Trevor



IMDB ENTRY

ON NETFLIX INSTANT

ALYXSTARR LINK

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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.
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2015 DISCUSSION | 2015 LISTS


Last edited by Chad; 10-01-15 at 08:55 PM.
Old 09-24-15, 10:46 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

This is easily one of the creepiest movies ever made. I think it would have gotten more acclaim if it wasn't known to be based off of a Stephen King novel. Fred Gwynne is the kind of inspired casting that truly elevates it from b-movie fare.

http://www.doblu.com/2012/10/02/pet-sematary-review/
Old 10-29-15, 12:52 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Not on Netflix in the US anymore.
Old 10-29-15, 02:36 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

My wife's dog is like this... no Indian burial ground required (then again, maybe I need to double check the ditch behind the house).
Originally Posted by Trevor
Not on Netflix in the US anymore.
Alyxstarr has really saved the day providing several subset films
Old 10-29-15, 02:46 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Outstanding film, especially the acting of Fred Gwynne. He was born to do roles like this. Actually, much like yesterday's film, the acting really helps to sell this movie. Another repeat viewing for me but another film that I really liked revisiting. Another good suggestion.
Old 10-29-15, 02:48 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Pet Sematary is really effective at balancing heart wrenching "drama" and scary.

It's never clear why the elderly neighbor took the doctor to the pet cemetery to begin with, is it? It was smart of the film for the old guy to acknowledge he doesn't know why he did it... but still a cop out. Maybe we should assume the old guy on some level was considering being buried there as part of his struggle with old age (even though there's not basis for that)?

Pet Sematary doesn't pull any punches with the killer kid stuff; nicely done - this is how you show a killer kid although his giggles skirt the line between effective and over the top. The truck driver jamming to The Ramones is a nice touch... but the father tumbling trying to get the kid is horribly fake (followed by that awful clenched fist screaming at the air).

Denys Crosby's sister gave me nightmares when I first saw this.

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger
...Fred Gwynne is the kind of inspired casting that truly elevates it from b-movie fare...
Fred Gwynne totally makes the film. That Dale Midkiff fellow didn't stand a chance sharing scenes.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 10-29-15 at 03:49 PM.
Old 10-30-15, 08:57 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Trevor
Not on Netflix in the US anymore.
Or Amazon. That's twice I've written something down and it's dropped off before I got to it...

Last edited by ntnon; 10-30-15 at 09:04 AM.
Old 10-30-15, 09:04 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow

It's never clear why the elderly neighbor took the doctor to the pet cemetery to begin with, is it?
It was smart of the film for the old guy to acknowledge he doesn't know why he did it... but still a cop out. Maybe we should assume the old guy on some level was considering being buried there as part of his struggle with old age (even though there's not basis for that)?
Denise does ask where the path goes, so there's that. And maybe he knew how much the girl liked her cat and had an unreasonable hope...? Or to try and (stupidly, nonsensically) atone* for past actions..

I'm now more than ecer baffled and saddened that Ms Crosby didn't go on to bigger and better things after leaving TNG - I thought she was great here, even with a string cast surrounding her (again).



*Maybe even 'misery loves company' - he wanted to show that others could make the same mistakes..?
Old 10-30-15, 09:06 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

This looks great on BD, usually pretty cheap too.

I can say this is the FIRST time I've watched the movie all the way through. I've had a child-hood fear of the dying sister. I've never been able to get past that part. As an adult I just wouldn't think of the film at all, other than it exists. Well this time I made it through. Partly thanks to the BD transfer makes the dying sister look like a major prosthetic/make-up project (which is, of course, just more evident here). Wish they could filter or tone down the lighting in these older movies with heavy SFX. Seeing too well can spoil it a bit.

But most important: We get The Ramones song, that's not generic, but specifically about this film. No matter your opinion of the film, it has The Ramones. That alone should settle any grievances towards it.
Old 10-30-15, 10:26 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Love me some Fred Gwynne. Love the New England accents. Steven King as the minister. I just need my Scatman Crothers fix and I'll be good to go for this challenge. Glad I had the opportunity to revisit this one.

Why did Missy kill herself?

Last edited by WillieMLF; 10-30-15 at 10:32 AM.
Old 10-30-15, 12:25 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by WillieMLF
Why did Missy kill herself?
Cancer if I remember correctly.

This is one of my favorite horror films of all time. Haven't rewatched it yet for the challenge but plan to tonight. Awesome score on this one as well. I highly recommend the CD.

This was my go-to horror film when I was a teen and in college to have girls jumping into my arms. But now that I am old and have a son, the death of Gage gets to me a lot more now. If we had had a second son, his name was going to be Gage, named after the movie/book.

And don't miss out on reading this book. It is honestly one of King's best and is up there with The Shining as far as truly scary reads.
Old 10-30-15, 12:42 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

First film of the month to make me cry.
Old 10-30-15, 03:22 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Yay! I get to be the lone dissenter again!

This film is awful. I hated it when it first came out, and I had hoped that the intervening 25 years would make me see it in a different light...but nope. Didn't happen.

You see, I loved the book. It's one of the handful of books that I've read that really, REALLY scared me. So I was expecting a fearsome film indeed--but we got...this. Here's a partial list of MY grievances with the film:

1. Stephen King's screenplay must have been written during those years in which he was coked-up out of his mind. I don't know what possessed him to turn the character of Victor Pascow into an undead Greek chorus, but after his first appearance, he became sort of a running joke. King's dialogue was clunky, featuring exposition as heavy as an aging hooker's makeup.

2. The filmmakers weren't up to the task at hand. Mary Lambert approached the film like she was shooting another Madonna video, and without a pre-recorded soundtrack to cut her film to, she had no idea how to pace the film, which led to the film not cutting together very well. And surely somebody else noticed that the music by Elliot Rosenthal lifted huge chunks of Lalo Schifrin's The Amityville Horror score.

3. The actors, for the most part, were atrocious. I'm not in love with Fred Gwynne's performance; he was a bit too earnest in spots and oversold his character somewhat. Still, he's watchable, unlike practically every other member of the cast. Denise Crosby acts like she accidentally wandered in from a Lifetime movie about spousal abuse, and Blaze Berdahl as Ellie is one of the most annoying child actors that I've ever seen.

4. And then there's Dale Midkiff, who has a singularly vapid look on his face for most of the movie. That look only disappears when he has to show big emotions, none of which seem even remotely authentic. His long "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" of anguish after Gage gets hit by the truck made me laugh so hard and so long that I had to pause the movie to get my composure back.

There are other things about it that are just stupid: the returned Gage's "evil" laugh; the entire story arc with Missy Dandridge, which did absolutely nothing to advance the plot or deepen the drama; the unconvincing Gage doll that stood in for little Miko Hughes in the action scenes; the state of decomposition of the freshly-dead Denise Crosby...the list could go on and on.

Maybe someone will remake Pet Sematary in the near future, so that it can join the short list of movies which have superior remakes. Until that happens, though, we're stuck with this crapfest.

Last edited by rbrown498; 10-30-15 at 04:43 PM.
Old 10-30-15, 03:29 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I never noticed this great giggle before


Even though this movie was one of my subset picks, I had second thoughts about revisiting it last night because I wasn't in the mood for some depression. But I thought the director's commentary could help relax things and, for the most part, it succeeded. The only thing was that I had disagreed with Lambert was on the subject of how Crandall was a "Bad" angel compared to Pascow's "Good" one. Sure, it was bad on Crandall's part to have introduced Louis to the burial ground, but Crandall was just always more of a conflicted character than a bad one to me.

Originally Posted by Dick Laurent
I've had a child-hood fear of the dying sister.
Along with Shining's lady in the bathtub (Again, with the King connection) this was also way up in my list of nightmare sequences that horrified me the most as a youngster. And I never knew that Zelda was played by a male.

I also agree with the comments on The Ramones. It was mandatory to listen to that title-track in it's entirety before I went to sleep.
Old 10-30-15, 03:39 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Undeadcow
Fred Gwynne totally makes the film. That Dale Midkiff fellow didn't stand a chance sharing scenes.
Let's face it: Dale Midkiff didn't stand a chance of sharing scenes with a shovel, much less any human actor.

Originally Posted by ntnon
I'm now more than ecer baffled and saddened that Ms Crosby didn't go on to bigger and better things after leaving TNG - I thought she was great here, even with a string cast surrounding her (again).
What's a string cast? I don't think I've ever heard that term.

Originally Posted by Spiderbite
Awesome score on this one as well. I highly recommend the CD.
The CD can be found in the "S"s for Schifrin, Lalo. Some stores might organize it under "A" for Amityville Horror.

Honestly. Check it out--

Go to around the 43-second mark and take a listen:

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JPN8KMJfdDI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Compare that to this:

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KNQpFQN0-Zg?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Hear what I mean?


Originally Posted by Spiderbite
And don't miss out on reading this book. It is honestly one of King's best and is up there with The Shining as far as truly scary reads.
Amen to that, except that I'd rank it as his absolute scariest.
Old 10-30-15, 05:05 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

rbrown498, I have always recognized that the score is a rip-off of Amityville. That's probably why I love it. Amityville is one of my all-time favorite scores. Listening to both scores just scream "fall" (the season) to me. Yeah, it's a rip-off but it doesn't take away my enjoyment. If I got upset with every score that ripped off another one, I wouldn't have a whole lot to listen to, movie score-wise. All the great scores have been ripped off more times than you can count. John Williams rips himself off constantly, but I still love (most) of his music.

Anyway, all of your criticisms are legit. Nostalgia for this movie clouds my mind heavily, even when watching it nowadays. The acting can be rough, especially by the little girl in particular. But she's a kid so I can forgive it. Gage's growls are silly at the end but I always was just impressed by a three year old being able to do so much in what they asked of him. I can't imagine many three year olds acting any better than he did.

I agree with Pascow. I always thought it was an unnecessary character in the movie (didn't seem that way in the book though, if I remember correctly) and almost comes across as comic relief. The movie is so heavy in loss that actually helps some people work there way through the movie.

Dale Midkiff's acting has never bothered me in the movie. He's detached because the character is written that way, even from the beginning. And if I lost my son the way he did, I don't know how I would act. His blankness after the death is perfection in my eyes. And you may laugh at the screaming "Noooo," but put yourself in that position. What would you say or do?

I have always thought of this movie as almost a dreamlike state. Everything is just off-kilter. But maybe that was just the movie-making.

This is one of the few horror movies I saw more than once in the theater. I think I saw it 3 times and then a crazy amount of times on video. Trust me. If there is a female you want cowering in your arms, show her this. It worked with every girl I showed it to. Candyman also does the same trick.
Old 10-30-15, 08:55 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by rbrown498
Yay! I get to be the lone dissenter again!
Don't worry. You are not the lone dissenter because it's now my time to weigh in. Strangely, I remember going to see this with my grandmother. She took me, my sister and two of our cousins. I was 11 or 12 at the time. I really liked it then and found it creepy, but it has not aged very well at all.

I might tread on some of rbrown498's comments, but I still want to get everything out. I will also borrow rbrown498's list format. I must first admit that I haven't read the book. Maybe some things would have made more sense if I did, but all I have to go on is what's in the movie.

1. The first thing on my list is the character of Crandall. I think Gwynne was great, but I just didn't understand him at all. What was his motivation for sending Louis to the burial ground in the first place? He mentioned the girl was too young to have to face death, but that's such a cop out when you hear him finally tell the stories regarding the dog and Timmy. So, the dog came back all messed. Then it was tried with Timmy, which ended in a truly big disaster. Yet, you decide to unleash this on your new neighbors. Come on! You know this isn't going to end well! Why do it? It's an interesting thought that Crandall was the bad angel, but aside from the one action (which is a very big one), it just doesn't go with anything else we see from the character.

2. What the hell was Pascow doing in this movie? He's introduced all creepy, and by the end, he's the family's guardian angel. Not only that but he's sort of a goofy, funny guardian angel. His motivation seems pretty thin. His whole part was just silly, more of a plot device of convenience than anything else - and a transparent one at that.

3. The acting from the little girl was truly terrible. She grated on my nerves to an extreme degree, and I'm usually pretty forgiving of child actors.

4. Why was Gage so powerful once he returned? He went from being a little kid with a very limited vocabulary who still didn't seem entirely steady on his feet and was still eating in a high chair to a person who spoke in complete sentences, knew how to use the phone (and his phone number!), and could place an adult's body in the attic. What? How did he even manage to get into the attic? It wouldn't have bothered me so much if we hadn't seen the other guy who came back. He seemed very mentally impaired after his experience whereas Gage gained a lot more intelligence, skills and strength. Not consistent at all. I read something about Zelda possessing Gage, but I don't think that's made very clear. I know the mom was having visions of Zelda, but I think it's a big leap for her long dead sister to jump into the body of this little boy. Possession hadn't been established at all. Gage's youth did result in one of the funniest moments of the movie for me. I loved when it looked like Gage was gumming Crandall to death. That was one of the least intimidating attacks I have ever seen, although the scalpel to the Achilles was pretty brutal.

6. Why did Gage immediately go after Crandall? Yes, I know I probably shouldn't be trying to understand the motivations of a reanimated corpse, but it doesn't make much sense. Immediately going after the dad make a whole lot more sense rather than taking a detour to the neighbor's house.

5. Clearly there was more going on than we were made aware. I think of the "loon" that they heard and other little references, even the Zelda storyline. There was more to the story, but we only got a slight piece of it, which resulted in a disjointed movie that left a lot of questions.

I could go on and on with more things (character motivations, the acting, the dad's stumble when running for Gage, the fact that no one seemed to notice Gage running into the road), but I think you get my point. And just so this isn't all negative, I think the Zelda story had a lot of possibilities. The character looked damn creepy. There was a better movie there than what we got. Also, The Ramones. That was undoubtedly the highlight of the movie for me.

Maybe I missed some big piece of the plot that would have explained a lot of what I brought up, but even still, I don't think it would have helped too much.
Old 10-31-15, 09:23 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I watched this last night and while it has all the problems others have mentioned, I still love this movie. Again, nostalgia is a powerful thing.

I am not defending the movies or its issues at all but will try to take a shot at answering the above.

1. He wanted her to have her cat back. Maybe enough years had passed that he thought it would be okay. And it was jut a cat. Not a dog or a human. I don't know.

2. It is mentioned several times in the movie that because the dad helped him, he wanted to help the dad. And I guess he knew about the issues with the Pet Semetary. Notice at the end that once he has lost Louis to madness, he is battling the spirit(s) of the pet cemetery to try to get Rachel there to stop him and talk some sense into him. He is their guardian angel so to speak.

3. Her acting is bad. Nothing good can be sad about it though I do like her after-death talks with her father. But the part where she tells her mom, I...I...I...I can't remember!" and then starts wailing is the worst. Couldn't they have tried for another take?

4. Gage is obviously possessed by the ghost of Rachel's sister Zelda. This is stated by Zelda herself ("Gage and I will get you. for letting us die!") as well as Gage is wearing Zelda's clothes in that creepy picture of Zelda. Does that give a three year old Superbaby strength? I have no idea. But I always have to turn a blind eye in all movies where stuff like this happens. It's like the hanging corpse thing. Why do so many horror movies do that. They want the jump scare but how does every killer time the corpse they hanged to drop at the perfect time, every time?

5 & 6. I haven't read the book in forever so I can't remember why Gage goes to Judd first. I can't remember if it is in the book that way or not. The telephone call is a bit much but I can't tell you how often I have quoted that like. "Now I want to play with yooouuu." There is a Wendigo in the book that possesses the pet cemetery. They touch on it a couple of times in the movie but don't make it very clear.


I just remember having a ball with this movie in a packed theater every time I saw it. People (well...girls) were screaming, jumping, talking to the screen, etc. Granted I was 16 at the time and the theater was likely full of teenagers. but watching it last night, I could remember ever spot where the theater erupted. I haven't experienced anything like that in a theater since. Yeah, some people jump or I may hear a scream or gasp or two. But this was the entire theater.

The part that hurts my heart is when Louis has to kill his son and Gage dies again. People get upset when they put down a dog. What would it be like to have to do that to your super-cute 3 year old? "No fair!"

Oh yeah, and the screaming that went on in the theater when Louis kissed his wife at the end. Fucking hilarious.

And this movie has to have a record number of jump cat scares.
Old 10-31-15, 11:25 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by rbrown498
What's a string cast? I don't think I've ever heard that term.
Oops. That's Samsung/AT&T's thoughtful update's contribution to spelling and comprehension: MobileTypo. Should be "strong cast" - I thought that most were at least above average (as in TNG) with emoting and seeming 'real', but she still holds her own among them. Reportedly she ducked out of Trek partly due to underuse, and partly to pursue a film career... and it necer took off. I assumed she'd just been swamped by 'better' actors or been in poor films, but I don't see either here.


Originally Posted by rbrown498
I'd rank it as his absolute scariest.
This may be another case of opinion divided between readers-before-watchers and non-readers/watchers-first. I know there are several films where I've read the book after and still enjoyed the film subsequently, where friends have hated the 'poor' adaptation of the same thing... priority matters, I think.
Old 10-31-15, 11:39 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I have a hard time enjoying Kubrick's version of The Shining due to it being so off the charts different from the book. I remember liking the movie until I read the book. Then I watched the movie again right after reading the book and hated the movie. I have warmed back up to it since then but it is probably not recommended to watch any movie adaptation after reading the original book. They almost always pale in comparison.
Old 10-31-15, 11:50 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

I understand where the complaints are coming from, but feel that similar ones could be written about any movie. Sometimes a movie either just clicks with you or it doesn't. This movie has at least two huge flaws, the acting of the two leads, but has enough scares, an overall creepy vibe, and a huge emotional punch (the funeral scene) to put it firmly on the positive side for me.
Old 10-31-15, 11:59 AM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by clckworang

6. Why did Gage immediately go after Crandall? Yes, I know I probably shouldn't be trying to understand the motivations of a reanimated corpse, but it doesn't make much sense. Immediately going after the dad make a whole lot more sense rather than taking a detour to the neighbor's house.
No one was home, were they? Maybe he went after the nearest target. Not sure why there was a need to kill anyone, but maybe Crandall was in his sights.
Old 10-31-15, 01:47 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by ntnon
No one was home, were they? Maybe he went after the nearest target. Not sure why there was a need to kill anyone, but maybe Crandall was in his sights.
Louis was asleep in bed while Gage came though and got his medical tools.

Speaking of, did anyone notice when Louis wakes up with a start and hits the side of his head on the corner of the nightstand. It looks completely real and I actually watch that frame by frame. I don't know how he didn't take his eye out.

Also, what did you guys think of the part where he gives Church a shot in the butt at the end and Church dies. It looks amazingly realistic during the shot and the aftermath.
Old 10-31-15, 02:24 PM
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Originally Posted by Spiderbite
Oh yeah, and the screaming that went on in the theater when Louis kissed his wife at the end. Fucking hilarious.
I have to admit that part was great.

I guess I still see it as a big leap to go from the dead rising to the dead rising and being possessed by someone who has died years earlier. Again, maybe things would have made sense in the book. I just didn't feel like the movie stuck with the "rules" it seemed to spell out.

Originally Posted by ntnon
No one was home, were they? Maybe he went after the nearest target. Not sure why there was a need to kill anyone, but maybe Crandall was in his sights.
Yeah, like Spiderbite said, Louis was asleep, so it would have been pretty easy to kill him or just start tormenting him without crossing the street to find another victim. Plus, if it was Zelda and not Gage, she has no reason to target Crandall. She never even met him. If anything, she should be grateful for the fool showing Louis the burial ground in the first place. Hell, even if it was Gage, Crandall seemed to be the only one who paid any attention to him whenever he would start running into the road!
Old 10-31-15, 06:24 PM
  #25  
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Re: "Pet Sematary" Reviews/Discussion - 2015 Horror Challenge: Day 29

Oh, and to offer a counterpoint to tales of manly men and screaming women... my wife is a bigger (and more knowledgable) fan of Stephen King - and the horror genre in general - in print than anyone I've met or spoken to, and well-versed in King-on-film, too. And while she's been regularly terrified by certain films, I don't believe she's ever screamed..

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