Film Genre - Horror
Label - Via Vision Entertainment
Audio - English (Dolby Digital)
Running Time - 404
Region Coding - B (Blu-Ray)
TV Standard - PAL
Rating - R18+
Year of Release - 1983
Primary Format - Movies/TV - Blu-Ray
Review By James Ackland
Dead Zone, Christine, Sleep Walkers
Review by John Matthews
PET SEMATARY (1992)
The late 80’s and early 90’s is a time I’ll always remember with Stephen King films as an event time. Viewers today are lining up for the latest Purge sequel or Insidious chapter much like the Saw movies did in the early parts of the new century. Each repeating each other’s tropes and ont really breaking too much ground in the horror genre. But as the last century started to wrap up, King as KING!
The Eighties was a time when Kings Novels were helmed by top grade Horror masters, De Palma, Kubrick, Cronenberg, Carpenter… the list goes on. There was an expectation that the horror on page could be masterfully translated to celluloid and for the most times it worked and audiences were thrilled and repulsed. King himself was always a little on the fence whether the films lived up to his expectations though, he famously ripped Kubricks ‘The Shining’ adaptation. So, with Pet Semetary he wrote the screenplay himself. He’s also said previously that Pet Semetary is the only book of his that genuinely scared him. So there was a lot of excitement when Pet Semetary came to the silver screen.
The Creed family move to the country side to set up a new life with Louis starting work as a Doctor at the local University. All is well and it’s an exciting time to breathe in that fresh country air. Friendly neighbour Jud, played by Fred Gwynne of Munsters fame outlines the pros and cons of the area, quick to point out the dangers of the road and the trucks that hurtle passed from the local industries around Maine and also the local Semetary where children have buried their beloved pets.
Louis meets a spectre in the form of a freshly dead jogger, Pascow who warns him the dangers of using the “sour” ground of the Semetary. However, Louis pays little attention to these warnings and in his anguish repeats mistake after mistake bringing back the dead thanks to an old Indian burial ground nearby.
The problem with Louis is that he makes promises he can’t keep. To relieve his daughters fears about her creepy ass cat dying, which it promptly does, he promises that everything will be ok. Louis buries the cat… and guess what... it comes back, still with the fresh wounds of death and an attitude to match.
Rinse and repeat for the rest of the film.
What I noticed in this viewing (It’s been a few years since I’ve re-watched this) is that his daughter seems to have the Shine…. From the SHINING! That was a fabulous inclusion to this story, ties in a bit of King Law, even if her dreams spoil what’s coming next. Frankly, if my kid were shouting about all these bad dreams, I’d have her committed.
I also love that while the subject of the power of the Semetary is front and centre the film diverts off to flashbacks from certain characters. Much like the vomit story in ‘Stand by me’ there are little scenes that are short stories in themselves. Take Rachel’s tale of her sister suffering from Spinal meningitis. This is, for me, the most terrifying part of the film. It’s offensive as fuck for anyone suffering from the condition and to rub it in, here the part of near death Zelda, it’s played by a guy in heavy makeup as the film makers couldn’t find a woman skinny enough to pull it off. Still gives me the shivers…. Brrrrrr.
Director, Mary Lambert inherited this film after original director George R. Romero had scheduling conflicts with the film ‘Monkey Shines’, apparently Tom Savini was also in the directors pool also. However, Lambert does an amazing job with this film, still the best film of her career to date. She would go on to direct the sequel ‘Pet Semetary 2’ to little fanfare in 1992.
If you haven’t seen Pet Semetary then I think you’ll love it! It’s got all the things we love about Stephen King. He’s even IN the film, so a bonus there! If you HAVE seen the film, now with the Blu Ray collection it’s a perfect time for a revisit.
Sometimes dead is better.
Arnie Cunningham, a teenager suffering the pain of his high school years (with glasses the size of mirrors), falls in love with a 1958 Plymouth Fury, named Christine. It lies smashed among the weeds of a neglected garden. Arnie rapidly deals with the mysterious owner and departs with the dilapidated vehicle. He then seeks to repair Christine, becoming an obsession. As the renaissance of the craft, Arnie too is changing. He becomes confident in pride and falls under the sway of a jealous Christine and that does not support the lack of attention he is instating putting into a girl he starts dating. Dennis, the faithful friend of Arnie and Leigh, his new girlfriend, can only watch, increasingly worried about his possession. It must be said that to protect their symbiotic relationship, Christine does not hesitate to use brute force.
It is always difficult to adapt Stephen king works but here I feel it succeeds For me, "Christine" is one of the successes with "The Dead Zone," "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Green Mile," "Misery," "Carrie" and "Dolores Claiborne”.
Admittedly Carpenter succeeds there, a balancing act; remaining sober, without adding in the fantasy side, so that one begins to believe (a little) in this exclusive story of love and evil possession. Christine is alive, both attractive (in her beautiful red and white dress) and frightening. The soundtrack is perfect, even if the music was done by Carpenter (as often in his movies) sometimes may appears a little dated, this is not because. It is a mix of golden oldies and his classic synth score.
DEAD ZONE (1983)
DEAD ZONE (1983) is unique in Crononbergs Filmography; because it is his only film that is truly “a film for all audiences”" because there is no bizarre crononberg sex scenes or horror releasing a disturbing ambiguity.For the first time, Cronenberg left temporarily aside his "hardcore" experiments after experiencing VIDEODROME (1982). Based on the novel of the great Stephen KING, DEAD ZONE follows the strange adventure of Johnny Smith that after a spectacular car accident ends up with a power capacity by the simple touch, allowing him to see past or the future of any individual. Thanks to his gifts he manages to save a little girl from a fire and becomes a celebrity. Worse, a curiosity? But for some people this gift is a scam (see the remarkable scene between Walken and septic and scornful journalist will regret making fun of him) see the work of the devil (the terrifying mother of the killer with scissors). Smith prefers to shelve this world that can not understand. Until one day fate will enable it to take advantage of this unique talent to discover that there is a dead zone (the DEAD ZONE) in his visions or anything is still possible where nothing is yet written.
This film is exciting from beginning to end. For the first time the filmmaker manages to move us, to share the suffering of his hero and unfair but understandable enforced solitude. He left his great-Guignol and clinical effects. He films a human scale. It includes the famous flash of very effective manner to cause immediate anxiety. A masterful scene !! But he did not neglect one of the major obsessions of the theme Cronenberg: Mutation. Succeed, three years later to marry the two in the monumental FLY (1986) with Jeff GOLDBLUM. In the lead role, Christopher Walken is amazing accuracy, simplicity and humanity. One can only be touched by this man who seems to have lost everything after the 5 years of coma but will nevertheless take action that will save humanity. His interpretation reached rarely seen in cinema emotions summits (eg the friendship he has with the child is properly shattering). What a phenomenal actor, we also suggest you look into the unjustly despised BRAINSTORM.
The latter roles are not left with Brooke ADAMS; lost love by circumstances. Tom Skerritt Sheriff "ready to believe it," Castle ROCK (city cult novels KING) tracking a serial killer and especially Martin Sheen who plays marvelously a dangerous madman politician.
SleepWakers is one of the more unusual King works to emerge, mainly due to its controversial incest content. This story of legendary creatures half-man half-feline settling in a small American town and satiating poor urban virgin turns pleasant, decorated with dreamlike passages which are rather creepy and well done action scenes. Mother and son form an incestuous couple who fear only one animal: the cat. It being provided (and this is real) of a sixth sense, they chase because they feel the hurt in them. For those who love cats; a warning the start is shocking, then combine with its "spies the velvet paws" to fight the monsters.
Directed by Mick Garris, alter ego of King on the screens, the film itself offers good casting of young actors ranging from then unknown (Brian Krause and Mädchen Amick, already accustomed to the fantastic with "Twin Peaks") to ultimately the show stealer as always, still as beautiful and frightening Alice Kridge. We will note the presence in the cemetery with the caretaker of Stephen King himself. This has to have the greatest cameo appearances in the history of horror. We get a scene with wait…not only King but, Tobe Hooper, Clive Barker (who I am not aware did any other appearances on film), John Landis and the great Joe Dante, it has to be seen to be believed. Both simple and enjoyable, the film however has vivid special effects, with the development of morphing, and excellent makeup, greatly emphasizing particularly gory scenes. Also cared decorations, signed music and rhythm led (good reflection films of 90s), Overall a little gem of a King film, if you like 80/ early 90s American films set in small towns, this is for you too.
Via Vision have put together a great Blu Ray set here and they are jammed with extras to boot!
The films all have top notch transfers and strong audio. If you are a Stephen King fan do not pass this chance to own them all in a great collection with a stunning slipcase. Our highest recommendations.