I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
PET SEMATARY (1989)
Rated R, 102 minutes.
Director: Mary Lambert
Cast: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Brad Greenquist, Miko Hughes, Blaze Berdahl and Susan Blommaert
Available today on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.
Stephen King’s 1983 novel PET SEMATARY is one of my all-time favorite books. I’m reading it again, and I sometimes forget just how gifted King is at turning a phrase and completely putting you inside a character’s skin, while simultaneously getting underneath your own.
The original 1989 PET SEMATARY, directed by Mary Lambert, has been re-released on disc (and on 4K Ultra HD for the first time) in preparation of the new 2019 adaptation (due out April 5) and in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
While the film has issues aplenty, primarily in the character development stages of the story, PET SEMATARY still holds up remarkably well and looks slick with its all-new 4K finish from Paramount.
The story concerns the Creed family (Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Blaze Berdahl and Miko Hughes), who move from their big-city life to the small, quiet rural town of Ludlow, Maine. When they arrive, they meet kooky neighbor Jud Crandall (a great Fred Gwynne, aka Herman Munster) and find the mysterious titular “pet sematary” on their property.
Jud informs them that it’s sacred ground for families to bury their lost furry loved ones. However, as the story progresses, and considering this is a King adaptation, the soil may contain some evil.
There’s so much to unpack in this story. It deals with the difficult conversations we have to have with our children about death and opens one’s eyes to the reality of the world in many fascinating ways.
It’s loaded with horror-filled spooks and crushing scenes of drama. It may still have that late 1980s and early ’90s twinkle that makes it a bit goofy, most notably in its first two acts. But once we get into the full terror of the blood-curdling situation, it will undoubtedly dig into your dreams.
My Bloody Podcast on ‘PET SEMATARY’ (at 55-min mark):
Warning: Some language and lots of horror movie talk. It’s a horror podcast.
My Bloody Podcast is doing a giveaway on their show. Here are details: https://boomstickcomics.com/2019/03/free-giveaway-contest-for-fear-the-walking-dead-season-4-blu-ray/
Extras: Besides the spectacular 4K picture quality — with the dark, earthy tones of the cemetery blending in with the real world surrounding your television screen — this 4K release is a rare breed because it includes actual 4K bonus features. One of the featurettes is an entertaining interview collection with the cast and crew of the 2019 PET SEMATARY talking about the impact of Lambert’s 1989 original and King’s novel.
There’s also a great new interview with Lambert (sharing her memories of making the film) and an even-better audio commentary track with her. She discusses the standard stuff a director does on a commentary, but her explanations of her vision are phenomenal lessons in filmmaking. Rounding it off are three behind-the-scenes image galleries on the 4K disc and new-and-original special features on the Blu-ray disc that’s also included with the combo pack.
The best aspect is the cover art. It has this classic horror movie look with hand-drawn logo appeal. You, naturally, see a cemetery on the top half and a giant cat head on the bottom. For those who may not know, the Creed family cat (“Church”) plays a significant part in the story.