- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 2.0, Portuguese & Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: R
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray )
- Digital Copies: N/A
- Run Time: 102 Mins.
- Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
- Blu-ray Release Date: October 2, 2012
- List Price: $19.99
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Horror writer Stephen King adapted and cameoed in this 1989 big screen version of his novel Pet Sematary, directed by Mary Lambert. At the time, Lambert was mostly famous for her direction of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” music video and, unfortunately, her lack of experience in feature films was probably a big reason for this film’s lack of dramatic success.
The story follows a married couple, Louis (Dale Midkiff) and Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby; TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation) who leave the Chicago and move to a rural town in Maine with their two kinds when they buy a small farmhouse. Trouble isn’t too far away when they realize their new home sits near a roadway that attracts speeding trucks and down a trail from their house, as the kindly new neighbor Jud Crandle (Fred Gwynne) points out, is a pet sematary [sic] housing all the animals that are victims of the road’s traffic. When the Creed’s daughter Ellie’s (Blaze Berdahl) cat Church dies on the road when Rachel, Ellie, and the toddler Gage (Miko Hughes), are away at her family for the holidays, Jud takes Louis to the ancient Indian portion of the burial ground to bury its body. Supernatural forces take over and the cat comes back to life, but it’s vicious. These forces come into play later when Gage is the one who dies on the road and Louis must make a hard choice about whether he should cross that line or not.
Unfortunately, Pet Sematary‘s horror fizzles rather than frightens whenever it has the chance. Muddled with back stories about dead family members and zombies like Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) who haunts, then seems comical, then just seems to be wandering aimlessly, nothing creates the right sort of atmosphere. It seems that, even though many of the individual elements from King’s novel are maintained, the sense of horror is more campy than was ever intended by the writer.
Apart from the opening title sequence, this 1989 film looks quite clean with only a thin layer of grain and good color reproduction in Paramount’s AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement on Blu-ray. Bright outdoor sequences are the strongest, but the darker scenes fare well also, showing fairly nuanced details with only slightly increased grain levels. With that said, there does seem to be some slight edge enhancement being applied to the image, especially in distance shots. I wasn’t sure, but a zoom in on some spots definitely shows some sort of haloing and slight stairstepping as well. It’s very subtle and a large portion of people most likely will not notice it.
A fine lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix is offered for the film. While purists may scoff that the original stereo soundtrack isn’t on offer, this mix offers a good upgrade with a wide stereo sound field and subtle yet effective use of the surround channels for atmospherics and the occasional discrete sound effect. It also provides clear dialogue with little evidence of clipping.
There are no new supplements offered on Pet Sematary, but for the uninitiated, these typical featurettes are interesting even of less than compulsory viewing. The obligatory audio commentary Mary Lambert of your best bet for the most information.
- Commentary by Director Mary Lambert
- Stephen King Territory (1.33:1; SD; 00:13:09) – King discusses how events in his real life influenced the story of Pet Sematary. The featurette also features commentary from critics and friends.
- The Characters (1.33:1; SD; 00:12:51) – Mary Lambert gives her thoughts on bringing King’s characters to the screen. The featurette also features interviews with cast members from Pet Sematary.
- Filming Horror (1.33:1; SD; 00:10:26)
The Definitive Word
One of the least successful big screen adaptations of a Stephen King novel, Pet Sematary still has its fans for sure and it comes to Blu-ray in a good, but not necessarily perfect transfer from Paramount.
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