DVD Review HTF Review: Pet Sematary Special Collector's Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PatWahlquist, Sep 23, 2006.

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  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG]
    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.
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Excellent review!

    Actually, Pet Sematary is probably my all-time favorite
    horror film. It is also the most disturbing and most difficult film
    I have ever watched. The entire "monkeys paw" premise of
    wishing something once loved back from the dead is just so
    horrifying --- especially when the result turns out to be pure evil.

    I own the original DVD release and highly doubt that this
    title, as good as it is, would be worth a double-dip. I think
    we are all tired of the studios regurgitating these titles over
    and over again into Special Editions that offer very little value
    over the original.
     
  3. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    Good point Ron. Hopefully somebody important reads that.
     
  4. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    The difference between me buying this mostly out of a sense of collector obligation and buying it with real excitement and relish all comes down to the still missing trailer. I know we try to avoid sounding like spoiled children here but, dammit, Paramount can have its head up its own ass quite often, can't it?
     
  5. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    Well, in all fairness the current edition has been out for many years as a bare bones release. I don't necessairly consider that a double dip. What Fox does for many of their big titles as of recently, I can definately understand the issues taken with that. I do find it strange sometimes that people sometimes vehemently object to a studio updating a prevoulsy bare bones title that has been out for many years. Also people seem to be selective of which titles to take their ire on. Noboby is complaining about "Blade Runner" and what is going on with that could be considered a triple dip. I didn't see many complaints about the Alien Quadrilogy being a double dip (especially when the old edition of "Alien" already had some great extras.). I didn't see many complaints about the Batman films being upgraded. Right at this moment, I see people salivating (myself included) about the just announced "Superman" 14 Disc set. Now you could say that those editions offer much better value over the originals, but it seems like what this new edition of Pet Semetary is offering is, at the very least, par for the course. There's commentary and about 35 minutes in featuretts, and let's face it, this film is not important enough in the annals of cinema to necessitate a 3 hour documentary and separate additional commentaries from the writers and cast. If you consider the new edition of "Scarface" which seems like it is offering nothing more than a cooked sound mix, I think the difference can be seen. Not every upgrade is going to be a grand slam SE. Plus, this new edition will be cheap.
    Bottom line, when you consider all the frustrating marketing practices that studios often employ, I find this kind of re-release to be not all that offensive.

    Personally, I have always avoided buying bare bones DVDs anyway unless I can find them at bargain basement prices for this very reason. Caveat Emptor should be the motto of every DVD collector.
     
  6. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    I'm not always sure these titles are really intending for "double dipping." I think what's happening is that the studio is re-releasing popular titles for a new group of consumers who have bought into the DVD format late or for those who finally grown up over the past 5 years and have started new jobs, have income, etc. and are able to start a DVD collection.

    New releases like this (despite having already been released in the past) will be put on the "NEW THIS MONTH" shelf in the stores like your Wal-Marts and Best Buys...places where they will get exposure and the studio can generate some new excitement with these titles that the new buyer will want to pick up.

    If the studio has released a title like this years ago for those people who bought into the DVD format earlier, there is a good chance that the title(being old stock) will be in a discount bin or not even part of the store's inventory. It's a nice way to recycle titles and make them new again, so new consumers can see it.

    Unfortunately for die-hard fans of the film who bought the title early, we'll perceive it as double dipping because of some added feature or two that wasn't on the first release. The studios have to make the edition different - they can't re-release the same thing!! ha hah...

    Anyways, this is a fun horror movie that I remember almost nothing about...I just remember the ankle...eeeek!

    Mike
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Some good points brought up here....

    ....but guys, really, looking at the extras on this disc gives
    me a sort of "ho-hum" feeling, and combined with the lack of
    a trailer, there isn't anything worth double-dipping for.

    On the other hand, as has been rightfully brought up here,
    for a new generation of DVD collectors who never owned the
    original release, this DVD probably fills a much needed void.
     
  8. Jamie Cole

    Jamie Cole Stunt Coordinator

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    I guess I'll buy ANYTHING that gives me more Stephen King. A commentary and a 45-minute documentary sound pretty good to me.

    As scary as this movie can be, particularly if you have kids, it's about 1/10 as scary as the book. The book is easily the most disturbing thing King has ever written, and I personally think he took the movie in another direction to avoid going to "that place" in his life again. The movie has been discussed for a remake time and again, and I hope the next writer and director that tackle this thing will make a movie from THE BOOK, and stay true to it. THAT movie will be a classic on par with "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby."

    There was a rumor spreading recently that George Clooney was interested in remaking it. I've read that he's a fan, but that he also says he's not involved in a remake. But attracting someone that high-profile would be great, so that any remake wouldn't be just another slasher film.

    Seriously, if you're a horror fan, read this book. It's powerful stuff.
     
  9. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I agree Jamie, the book gives me the MAJOR wiggins.
    Jud having a wife in the book adds alot of texture to the story too....
     
  10. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    If this is a new transfer, I'd probably buy it. But, from reading the Video commments, it sounds awfully similar to the previous disc -- which looks pretty good for a movie of this type and age.
     
  11. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    The book and the movie rank as the horror pieces that disturb me the most. One thing the movie got right was that friggin' cat.
     
  12. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    Well, I'd argue THE SHINING deserves that accolade, but I have no gripe with putting PET SEMATARY at a close #2.
     
  13. Jamie Cole

    Jamie Cole Stunt Coordinator

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    Again, this is a decent horror movie as is, but don't you think there's a classic-in-waiting by adapting this book again?
     
  14. Jamie Cole

    Jamie Cole Stunt Coordinator

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    I hear you... but for me, "The Shining" is the close second.

    There's something just powerful about the way "Sematary" explores inconsolable grief, particularly in the case of tragic, sudden death. The movie is incredibly shallow in that regard compared to the book, but maybe the remake will remedy that.

    Oh, and you're right about the trailer—I remember seeing it for the first time at the theater and it was a jewel. I'd love to see it again. "Has anybody ever buried a person up there?" Spooky...
     
  15. Jeff_A

    Jeff_A Screenwriter

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    I completely agree. When those online polls are conducted concerning the "scariest story you ever read, etc." This is the book I have cited for many years. You're dead-on, Jamie. [​IMG]
     

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