Pet Sematary Special Collector’s Edition Studio: Paramount Home Video Rated: R Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1, 2.0, French 1.0 Subtitles: English Time: 103 minutes Disc Format: 1 DVD-9 Case Style: Keep case Theatrical Release Date: 1989 DVD Release Date: September 26, 2006 The Creed family of four, Louis and Rachel (Dale Midkiff and Denise Crosby) and their two young kids, Ellie and Gage (Blaze Berdahl and Miko Hughes), have found the perfect home: it’s near a lake, it’s got a lot of land, it looks like it came from a Rockwell painting, and, oh, yeah, there’s a pet cemetery nearby and semi-trucks whiz by at high rates of speed. The family soon meets their mysterious neighbor, Jud (Fred Gwynne), who gives them a briefing on the area and takes them on a tour of the pet cemetery. Once there, he explains how the cemetery is sacred Indian burial ground, but there’s still a ton of buried critters in it. Jud is kind enough to rescue Gage from a speeding truck, so he quickly endears himself to the family. Louis, a doctor, has a rough first day as his first patient is a victim of being hit by a truck: the guy quickly expires, but he passes on an ominous warning to Lewis, then he starts haunting Lewis’ dreams. As Rachel and the kids head off to her parents for Thanksgiving, Louis is left home alone with the family cat, which quickly gets plastered by one of those speeding trucks. Louis and Jud decide to bury the feline in another part of the graveyard which maintains the same otherworldly properties. Well, the cat makes its way back to the land of the living and begins torturing Lewis. As the family comes back home, Ellie figures out there’s something wrong with the cat. Louis also learns more about the properties of the burial ground and Jud explains that it will return the dead, but they’ll not be the same. Instead, they’ll be violent and homicidal. A great tragedy strikes the family, and Louis makes a decision that will have and impact on all involved. The outcome is a scary jump fest filled with a lot of blood and emotional terror. Pet Sematary takes the opposite track of what I commented on in The Dead Zone review, namely, that a Stephen King translation usually comes off better in the hands of a good director. This picture, while it packs in the shock, creeps and chills, isn’t much more than that. I was suitably horrified by the various kills and I jumped at the right places, but it was pretty easy to anticipate what was coming. The picture lacks the psychological horror that I appreciate in the better King stories and translations, but I think King was going more for straight horror thrills anyhow. King did the screenplay as well, so he may have made certain concessions for the screen. The actors do the best they can with the material but they often come off as melodramatic and unbelievable. Video: The picture is presented at 1.85:1 aspect ratio and it is an anamorphic transfer. Colors really stood out appearing rich and natural; flesh tones were excellent and sets and locations looked crisp and balanced. Fore- and background detail was good, but not quite as good as the new The Dead Zone release I recently reviewed. Edge enhancement was minimal, but I noticed the picture seemed somewhat noisy with a higher level of grain than I prefer. There are numerous, split second instances of film dirt and imperfections as well. Black levels were good, but they had a tendency to crush in on themselves thus not allowing for much detail. I do not have the previous version of this DVD to compare the two pictures. Audio: I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track engaged. There is also a 2.0 track if you are interested in it. The soundtrack stays centered in the fronts, predominantly, but when the surrounds open up they provide a very pleasing, natural sound field. Panning and stereo effects are present especially during the numerous semi-truck drive by’s. The soundtrack maintains a very balanced level set squarely in the mid ranges and occasionally opening up into some deeper bass. Dialogue was clear and free of chestiness and ADR was not noticed. Bonus Material: The original edition of this DVD had no bonus features. Commentary by Director Mary Lambert: Lambert describes the story as a classic and explains how the story follows the story of the monkey’s paw and its three wishes. She is, of course, complimentary of King and his work. She describes the story as we go and basically tells us what we’ve already figured out from watching the movie. This is pretty average commentary stuff. Stephen King’s Pet Semetary: Stephen King Territory (13:03): Vintage interviews with King, Producer Richard Rubenstien and others, and recent interviews with Midkiff and Lambert. King talks about the real life origins of the story and the rest of the participants talk about the shoot, specifically the location. Stephen King’s Pet Semetary: The Characters (12:45): Lambert describes what great characters King writes and how they translated to the screen. Her claim that King is “the Dickens of our culture” may be stretching it a bit, though. Midkiff and Gwynne contribute, and the vintage King interview resurfaces. Stephen King’s Pet Semetary: Filming the Horror (10:24): Lambert and Midkiff discuss King’s cameo and his contributions to the picture. They discuss character motivations and performances and the changes to the ending. Conclusions: A fairly good new transfer as well as some new extras make this a worthy upgrade for those die hard King fans.