Pet Sematary (film)

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Pet Sematary
Pet sematary poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mary Lambert
Produced by Richard P. Rubinstein
Screenplay by Stephen King
Based on Pet Sematary 
by Stephen King
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Peter Stein
Edited by
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • April 21, 1989 (1989-04-21)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $11.5 million[1]
Box office $57.5 million

Pet Sematary (sometimes referred to as Stephen King's Pet Sematary) is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King, the film features Dale Midkiff as Louis Creed, Denise Crosby as Rachel Creed, Blaze Berdahl as Ellie Creed, Miko Hughes as Gage Creed, and Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author King has a cameo as a minister.

A sequel, Pet Sematary Two, was released which was met with less financial and critical success.


The Creed family – Louis, Rachel, and their children Ellie and Gage – move from Chicago to Ludlow, Maine, where they befriend elderly neighbor Jud Crandall, who takes them to an isolated pet cemetery hidden behind the Creeds' new home.

While working at the University of Maine, Louis meets Victor Pascow, who is brought in with severe injuries from a car accident. He warns Louis about the pet cemetery before he dies, calling Louis by name despite the fact they have not previously met. After he dies, Pascow comes to Louis in a dream to tell him about the dangers inherent at the cemetery. Louis awakens assuming it was a dream, but notices his feet are covered in dirt, indicating he had gone to the cemetery. During Thanksgiving while the family is gone, Ellie's cat Church is run down on the highway by the house. Jud takes Louis beyond the cemetery and buries Church where he says the real burial ground is. Church comes back to life, though a shell of what he was before; he now seems more feral. Sometime later, Gage is killed by a truck along the same highway. When Louis questions Jud on whether humans have been buried in the cemetery before, Jud recounts a story of a friend named Bill who buried his son Timmy who died in World War II at the site, but he came back changed. Realizing the horror he brought to the townsfolk, Jud and some other friends tried destroying Timmy by burning him to death in the house, but Bill refused to get out without Timmy and both perished.

Rachel and Ellie go on a trip while Louis remains home. Despite Jud's warnings and Pascow's attempts to stop him, Louis exhumes his son's body and buries him at the ritual site. Pascow appears to Rachel and warns her that Louis has done something terrible. She tries telephoning Louis, then Jud, informing him she is returning home. She hangs up before Jud can warn her not to return. That night, Gage returns home and steals a scalpel from his father's bag. He taunts Jud before slashing his Achilles tendon and killing him. Rachel returns home and begins having visions of her disfigured sister Zelda before she died, only to discover that she is actually seeing Gage, holding a scalpel. In shock and disbelief, Rachel reaches down to hug her son and he kills her.

Waking up from his sleep, Louis notices Gage's footprints in the house and discovers that his scalpel is missing. Getting a message from Gage that he has "played" with Jud and "Mommy" and wants to play with him now, he fills two syringes with morphine and heads to Jud's house. Encountering Church, who attacks him, he kills the cat with an injection. Gage taunts him further within Jud's house and Louis discovers Rachel's corpse, falling hanged from the attic before he is attacked by his son. After a brief battle, Louis kills Gage with the morphine injection. He then lights the house on fire, leaving it to burn as he carries Rachel from the fire. Despite Pascow's continued insistence not to, Louis, now grief-stricken to the point of insanity, believes that because Rachel was not dead as long as Gage was, burying her to bring her back "will work this time". Pascow cries out in frustration and vanishes as Louis passes through him.

That night, Rachel returns to the house and she and Louis kiss. Rachel takes a knife from the counter and stabs an unwitting Louis - the screen cuts to black against Louis' scream of pain.



The film rights were sold to George A. Romero in 1984 for $10,000. King had previously declined several other offers for a film adaptation.[2] Romero eventually had to pull out of the production, as he was busy with Monkey Shines.[3] Pet Sematary was shot in Maine, including Mount Hope Cemetery, at King's behest.[4]


The film's score was written by Elliot Goldenthal.[5] The film features two songs by the Ramones, one of Stephen King's favorite bands: "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" appears in a scene, and "Pet Sematary", a new track written specially for the movie, plays over the credits.[6][7]

The song "Pet Sematary" became one of the Ramones' biggest charting hits, reaching number four on the Billboard 'Modern Rock Tracks' list, despite being, in the words of AMG, "reviled by most of the band's hardcore fans".[8]


The Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "defied the critics and opened at blockbuster levels".[9] The film grossed $57 million in North America.[10] Released in 1989 by Paramount Home Video, Pet Sematary was a best-selling video.[11] Paramount released it on DVD in 2006 and on Blu-ray in 2012.[12]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 43% of 23 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5.2/10.[13] Variety called it "undead schlock dulled by a slasher-film mentality".[14] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the film "has some effectively ghoulish moments" but "fails mostly because it doesn't trust the audience to do any of the work".[15] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Lambert goes for strong, succinct images and never stops to worry whether there's a lack of credibility or motivation."[16] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post called it "bland, cliched, cheap".[17] Harrington criticized Gage's actions as disturbing and the climax as "an ugly payoff to an inept setup".[17] Bloody Disgusting rated it 4.5/5 stars and wrote, "The plot alone would make for a scary movie, but by injecting excellent atmosphere, capable acting and generally nightmarish scenes, Pet Semetery is a truly effective horror flick and well worth the price of admission."[18] At Dread Central, Steve Barton rated it 4/5 stars and called it one of the best King adaptations;[19] Jason Jenkins rated it 3.5/5 stars and called it "one of the better King adaptations of the period".[12]


A sequel, Pet Sematary Two was released in 1992. A documentary, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, premiered in September 2014.[20] A remake was rumored in 2011.[21] Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was announced as directing the remake in October 2013.[22]


  1. ^ "Pet Sematary". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  2. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (1984-06-08). "'PET' FILM RIGHTS SOLD". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  3. ^ Wixson, Heather (2013-08-15). "Flashback Weekend 2013: George A. Romero Panel Highlights – Part One". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  4. ^ Scee, Trudy Irene (2012). The Mount Hope Cemetery of Bangor, Maine: The Complete History. The History Press. pp. 203–204. ISBN 9781609493370. 
  5. ^ Allmusic ((( Pet Sematary > Overview )))
  6. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Pet Sematary". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  7. ^ MattFini's Halloween Top 10 Lists: Most Memorable End Credit Songs
  8. ^ Eduardo Rivadavia (1989-05-23). "Brain Drain - The Ramones | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  9. ^ Easton, Nina J. (1989-04-25). "'Pet Sematary' Buries the Competition". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  10. ^ "Pet Sematary". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  11. ^ "Top Videos". The Pittsburgh Press. 1989-11-22. p. B7. 
  12. ^ a b Jenkins, Jason (2012-11-16). "Pet Sematary (Blu-ray)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  13. ^ "Pet Sematary (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  14. ^ "Review: 'Pet Sematary'". Variety. 1989. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  15. ^ Canby, Vincent (1989-04-22). "Pet Sematary (1989)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  16. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1989-04-24). "Movie Reviews : A Chilling Vision in 'Pet Sematary'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  17. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (1989-04-22). "'Pet Sematary' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  18. ^ "Pet Sematary". Bloody Disgusting. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  19. ^ Barton, Steve (2006-09-13). "Pet Sematary: Special Collector’s Edition (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  20. ^ Condit, Jon (2014-09-07). "Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary Set to Premiere with the Original Film". Dread Central. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  21. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (2011-02-02). "'Pet Sematary' looks to rise again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (2013-10-31). "‘Pet Sematary’ Back From the Dead With Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 

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