Yesterday I talked about The VVitch being my favourite horror film of all time. I also briefly mentioned my second and third favourites which were, in order, The Blair Witch Project and The Babadook. (I know, I know, numbering films in what order I like them best…what am I? Nine years old? Bloody hell. But still. I think we’ve already established that I’m Wyrd with a capital W, or maybe I should write that VV…)
Now, because I’m kind of obsessed with the number four, I thought I should make it up to an even number and tell you my FOURTH favourite horror film, (I know what you’re thinking… ‘is she serious?!’) is Pet Sematary, the original version I hasten to add, from 1989.
While it’s my fourth favourite horror film, Pet Sematary is actually my all-time favourite horror novel. The novel – which I only read this year, about eighteen years after I saw the film, shocking I know – terrified me so much that at thirty-two I slept with the lights on. But I loved it. I loved the terror that crept into me over the two days it took me to whip through that staggeringly strong story. There were moments that scared me so much, I went back over and read them again and then again – they were predominately the moments that featured the Wendigo and the Micmac burial ground. And if you’ve read the novel, you probably did the same. I’ve never been able to find a horror story that has affected me in quite the same way. Apparently, Pet Sematary is the only novel King has written that actually scares him.
Anyway, today I’m here to talk predominantly about the movie. If you’d like to read my review of Pet Sematary the novel, you can find it here at my bookclub!
When I first watched Pet Sematary, the terror, the actual terror that I experienced was unlike anything else I’d ever felt in any situation, real or fictional, ever, and I’ve had ghosts rush at me and then disappear, folks. Even the tagline ‘sometimes dead is better’ still gives goosebumps the size of golf balls.
I’m going to cut to the chase about which part haunted me then and continues to haunt me to this day – when Jud and Lois go, for the first time, to the Micmac burial ground. The atmosphere in the film up until that point had been uber heavy and tragic and hard to handle. But, when they went there, it seemed like the whole mood of the film changed into something distinctly evil. I felt unsafe. In my family’s living room, I felt unsafe. I felt like whatever would happen to them would happen to me without a shadow of a doubt. Now, when I think about that moment, the feeling of unease is strong, almost overwhelming.
Today I’ve been reading up on the trivia surrounding Pet Sematary. For example, did you know that the role of Zelda was actually played by a man? Twins played the role of Ellie and seven, yes seven cats played the role of Church. Each cat was trained to do a specific action for the camera. If it hadn’t been for Tabitha, King’s wife, there would be no Pet Sematary, as King initially shelved it. It was after his wife read it and told him to publish it that he went ahead and let the world read it. (All hail Tabitha King!) Whenever there was a scene with the path to the cemetery, my blood always turned to slush. Interestingly this was one of the hardest elements for the production design team as the path is described as, ‘shining in the moonlight.’
I’m hesitant to watch the new adaptation. King didn’t write the screenplay and I’m worried that I’m just going to be really, really disappointed. Apparently, it relies heavily on jump scares which I’m kind of pissed off about. I’ll end up watching it at some point, but right now, I’m hanging back and holding onto the extremely precious, extremely terrifying memories of the original.