Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Castle Rock Companion - Pet Sematary

As is probably fitting for the subject matter, both of my cats have a proper cameo in this video.  I say proper because we all know they've made unofficial cameos in the past. :)

If you finish this video and want to read even more analysis of the book, I highly recommend checking out Shredded Cheddar's read along discussion from October 2012.  I contributed via the comments and it was one of the most enjoyable "book club" discussions I've ever had.


  1. +JMJ+

    The more I think about Louis's character, the more I want to reread Frankenstein and see how he compares to Victor Frankenstein. I don't remember much about Mary Shelley's novel, but I think Victor didn't believe in an afterlife either, which was why he was okay with trying to resurrect dead bodies.

    (The first thing I ever saw Dale Midkiff in was the Magnificent Seven TV series, in which his character is a happy-go-lucky ladies' man. So whenever I see him in a more serious role, I have to blink a few times before I can suspend disbelief. It's a good thing he had a moustache in the TV show or I wouldn't be able to watch him in anything else! =P)

    I totally agree that Miko Hughes is great in this movie! When I watched this as a teen, I wondered whether his scenes as "Resurrected Gage" were done entirely with puppets or with computers. How else could that happy, sunny toddler have pulled them off??? I guess that good lighting and a good director can do wonders! (Well, okay, there was that one doll. LOL!)

    Zelda is something else, isn't she? I really think they went too far with her. I get that this is how Rachel remembers her--or rather, how Rachel remembers living with her--and that it's not how she literally looked or the situation literally was; but, oh, did they dial up the camp!

    Here's a funny story . . . My sister and I were once watching Pet Sematary in our grandmother's room. We were huddled on her bed during the Zelda scenes, squealing and clinging to each other. She was calmly crocheting away in her armchair. During the scariest point, she said, "You know, girls, when I watch a Horror movie, I always remind myself that the actors are surrounded by cameramen! Then I stop being scared." My sister and I had to stop and think about that for a second: "surrounded" by cameramen? Isn't there just one or two? I'm pretty sure she meant the whole crew but just used the wrong term. LOL! In any case, I can no longer see Zelda without hearing my grandmother's voice, and THAT is a bigger fear-dampener than the thought of cameramen. ;-)

    1. +JMJ+

      I can't believe I forgot to thank you for the link! I also enjoyed reading Pet Sematary with you last year. You're a great person to discuss Stephen King with! =)

    2. I have not read Frankenstein since high school, and also really want to re-read it myself, but I think the idea that Victor is reviving the dead is something that was born in the movies and not in the original material. I believe he was just trying to create new life. But you're right that there could be parallels here with that work, and now I'm thinking that perhaps that revisit to the novel would be the perfect thing for me to do come Halloween this year.

      Your grandmother's words bring up a wonderful image, of all these men with cameras surrounding them from every angle. What a wonderful slip of the tongue. :)

      And you're quite welcome for the mention, of course!

    3. +JMJ+

      I'm not sure if I'll do a Horror-themed readalong this year, because I'd also like to attempt NaNoWriMo, but if I will, Frankenstein will definitely be a contender. I think the essential point Victor has in common with Louis is the belief that life is nothing but consciousness, whether you achieve that with one body or pieces of several bodies. It'll be interesting to see if my impression is correct.

    4. Chunks of the resurrected Gage were also Laura Dash, a little person stunt woman wearing a rubber Miko Hughes mask. She doubles for little children and toddlers to this day.

    5. Enbethiliel, having read Frankenstein a year ago, it's not really all that similar. As Angie points out, he has a scientific detatchment where all he thinks he's doing is a grand experiment, and the moment he's seen it through, he's suddenly hit with the consequences. But it's through his rejection of the monster that he truly turns the monster into one. Victor's actually kind of an asshole. :)

      And it should be pointed out, he doesn't use pieces of corpses in the novel. That's entirely an invention of the film. He does use some animal bones, and studies tissues and parts, but he uses alchemical processes to actually grow and weave together tissues, literally assembling this new lifeform from scratch. The novel wiggles around it by keeping the details vague, but it's not dissimilar to stem cells and culture growths. In the book, he never robbed a single grave.

      Louis, though, knows from the beginning that what he's doing is wrong, but he rationalizes it, using his own grief to blind himself to the reality he already knows is coming. And part of this is also the forces of the burial ground working on him in the same way the Overlook Hotel manipulated Jack.

  2. Great review, Angie. I especially love the "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" bit. :)

    This was my first time both reading the novel and watching the film, and I was quite blow away by both, and would argue that they've scared me more than any other King work or adaptation I've experienced to this point. The Zelda bits were especially stinging as they and the conversations surrounding them play out like a vastly darker and more twisted version of things I have and continue to go through with my own sister.

    I did have some issues with the slow build of the novel, but once it kicks into gear, it's great, and I love flourishes like instantly cutting past Gage's death or saving his return until the final 40 pages. The one element I feel is largely superfluous is the use of Pascow, but I think the way he's incorporated into later events in the film are inspired and more than justify his presence.

    The film is a bit choppy, largely due to the abridgment of the narrative, but is still works extremely well. Judd does lose the surrogate father aspect of his relationship with Lewis, but as you say, Fred Gwynne is a delight in the role. There's so many little things I love, like the constant presence of the Orinco trucks, the use of the Ramones on that fateful day, the photographic memories of Gage. The editing in this film is great, and holy shit that cat. As for the extra bits at the ending, I don't mind the loss of Lewis' friend all that much, but I definitely agree with you on how they strip the ambiguity from Rachel's return. I'll lay the blame for that one on Lambert as King's own screenplay ends exactly as the novel does:

    He flips up one card.



    It's the Bitch, the Queen of Spades, she who supposedly poisoned the laddies in the Tower.

    LOUIS'S hand falls upon it.

    TOLLING CONTINUES: Nine...ten...


    A hand clotted with grave-dirt falls on his shoulder. A woman's hand.

    TOLLING CONCLUDES: Eleven...twelve...

    RACHEL (voice): Darling.


    1. I can certainly see why Zelda would hit you particularly hard. I know King's grandmother was bed ridden in their home when he was young, so it makes sense that he could have brought some real life experience into those scenes.

      Good to know about the ending. I guess Lambert thought a gross out moment would be a better way to end it. I know she also directed the sequel, so it will be interesting to see how she handles the material without King's involvement.

    2. We shall find out tomorrow. :)

    3. Did you guys know that Zelda was actually played by a man? That adds a little layer of creepiness; you sense that something is wrong, even if you don't quite know what it is.

      It's an effective movie. There are parts of it that I don't think work -- pretty much everything you mention in the review, actually -- but overall, I think the sum is greater than the components.

      It's prime remake material, too. As scary as the movie is, the novel is -- for my money -- MUCH scarier. Done right, the movie might almost be too much to take.

      It'll happen eventually. I just hope it's done well. Apparently, the guy who directed "28 Weeks Later" was hired for the job today. I think that's a solid choice.

    4. I had heard about Zelda being played by a man.

      I had also heard some talk here and there about a Pet Sematary remake, but it seemed kind of dead in the water. Maybe the Carrie remake helped push it forward? Though that didn't seem to make much of an impact in theaters.

    5. The remake of "Carrie" failing at the box office isn't going to help much, but I doubt it will hurt. Paramount has been trying to remake "Pet Sematary" for years; I can remember George Clooney's name being attached as the lead at one point, and other directors such as Alexandre Aja have been attahed, as well. That means it must be a priority for someone at that studio, and that means that it'll get made eventually.

      The question is, will they treat it well, or will they treat it purely as a hit-'n'-run moneymaker? And as always, that remains to be seen.


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