Posts Tagged ‘Stephen King’

Pet Sematary (2019) Netflix

Dir.: Kevin Kölsch/Denis Widmayer; Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence, Hugo and Lucas Lavoie, John Lithgow; USA 2019, 101 min.

Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is not by his most enduring novel by chance: Even 36 years after publication it is still quietly overpowering. Directors Kölsch and Widmayer have triumphed (with writer Jeff Buhler) where Mary Lambert’s 1989 film version failed. They have taken out the cheese, included some wry humour and concentrated on the overlaying guilt and redemption theme. Apart from a ten-minute hiatus of near parody at the end, this would have been a neo classic.

Dr Louis Creed (Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Seimetz) move away from their hectic life in Boston to a rural home in Maine. Their two children Ellie (Laurence) and Gage (H. and L. Lavoie) just as enchanted as their parents with the rural idyll. Louis even jokes that it beats the graveyard shift at Boston General – but soon the graveyard for pets,  in the grounds of their 50-acre property, takes over their lives. Having watched a procession of children bury their pets, the Creed’s cat Church (short for Churchill) is run over by a speeding truck, and Rachel, still traumatised by the death of her sister Zelda from spinal meningitis, tells her daughter their feline friend simply ran away.

After Church’s burial, the purring pussy comes back as an aggressive predator. And their neighbour Jud is reminded that the native Americans deserted the area because the reincarnations of their own dead. But tragedy strikes again on Ellie’s birthday when she is run over by a petrol tanker. Once again, Louis buries her in the cemetery, ignoring what happening to Church. Ten minutes of spectacular schlocky bad taste nearly ruin this stylish arthouse horror, before the closing shot resets the tone and saves the day.

British DoP Laurie Rose works magic with his overhead shots to produce intense images of the woods, conjuring up terrifyingly claustrophobic shots of the Creeds’ house. Particularly gruesome are the scenes with Rachel’s sister Zelda, who gets stuck in a food lift. Rachel is somehow the main protagonist and catalyst, guilt makes her overprotective of her daughter and drives the action on into the past. Somehow, the American dream family comes unstuck, as it often does with Stephen King. John Lithgow again convinces with a truly frightening performance, with solid support from the others. AS 



Cujo (1983) *** Bluray release

Dir: Lewis Teague | US Horror 88′

A loveable family pet becomes a ferocious killer in this terrifying cult horror outing from Lewis Teague. Atmospherically adapted for the big screen from Stephen King’s novel, the film sees parallel’s between wounded male pride and a rabid St Bernard who turns on its family after being bitten near their pleasant suburban home in California. In the meantime, the dog’s owner has gone off to lick his own wounds having discovered his wife’s affair. Who knows why dogs get such a bag time in small independent films. Whenever a dog appears, it is almost certain to have a tragic ending, and this is certainly the case for the titular St Bernard Cujo who is all friendly and bushy-tailed in the opening scenes and gradually descends into a raving monster after sticking his head into a bat cave. Ironically, a we feel pity for the dog rather than the family – had Teague picked a pit-bull or a Rottweiler things may have worked out entirely differently, and perhaps this was the reason for the film’s poor box office. That said, Teague pulls out all the stops on the terror front, keeping the bloodied mother and child trapped in a car being menaced by the angry dog for most of the film’s mileage. MT

Making its UK debut on Blu-ray on 15 April 2019 , with over 7 hours of extra content, Eureka Classics on a special Limited Two-Disc Blu-ray Edition, featuring a Limited Edition Hardbound Slipcase, with artwork designed by Graham Humphreys, a Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet and Bonus Blu-ray disc [4000 units ONLY].



Pet Sematary – the novel and the film versions

Stephen King’s terrifying novel, Pet Sematary was written back in 1983 and King then collaborated on the script with Mary Lambert directing a big screen adaptation in 1989. To celebrate the 30th anniversary release of the original Pet Sematary (1989) film, we’re looking into the key differences between the novel and the movie adaptations. With the latest film version out on March 29th  – how do they differ, and which is better?

Ellie or Gage Creed

In Stephen King’s terrifying novel and the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, the youngest Creed, Gage, is killed by a monster truck. This is a crucial element to the narrative as the loss of their son is the catalyst for the haunting events that unfold later. However, in Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s 2019 version of Pet Sematary, Gage’s older sister Ellie is the one to be hit by the truck. 

In many ways this has a marked effect on the storyline, as Dennis Widmyer explained in a recent interview: changing the death to be that of the older child adds more psychological layers to the narrative. Ellie Creed understands what she becomes whereas Gage in the novel and the 1989 version is unaware, making it more unsettling and haunting. 

Zelda, Rachel Creed’s Sister 

Rachel Creed’s sister is a significant and haunting character in all versions of the Pet Sematary story, yet she is portrayed in different ways. In both Stephen King’s novel and the upcoming film adaptation, Zelda is described and portrayed as a 10-year-old girl with spinal meningitis. However in the 1989 version, Zelda is played by an adult male actor, which is debatably one of the most hair-raising elements in the film. Either way, Zelda’s horrific deterioration and lonely death is one of the most terrifying elements of the story.


Timmy Baterman is a 17-year-old boy killed during World War II and then affected by the curse of the Micmac burial after his father laid him there. Timmy appeared ‘normal’ at first, but then we soon find out that Timmy didn’t return from the dead with a soul. Timmy’s tale is only alluded to in the novel and the 1989 adaptation, although it’s not mentioned in the upcoming adaptation. Instead we get to know the protagonists a little better.

Regional Accents 

A smaller yet crucial difference in terms of being true to the novel is the loss of the Maine accent. Stephen King clearly details in the novel that the Creed’s neighbour and keeper of the Micmac burial ground, Jud Crandall, has a very heavy Maine accent.  However, in the 2019 version, Oscar-nominated actor John Lithgow (Jud) whom does not take on the Maine accent. He recently stated in an interview that he believes Jud has evolved into “a more serious character” since the novel, casting a distinct slur on regional accents.  



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