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“Pet Sematary: 30th Anniversary Edition” gets an ultra-fine UHD 4K restoration


Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) comforts his wife Rachel (Denise Crosby) after their son Gage (Miko Hughes) is nearly run down in the road outside their new home in rural Maine. (4K frame shots courtesy of Paramount Home Media Distribution)


4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy; 1989; R for intense scenes, violence and mild gore; streaming via Amazon Prime (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube

Best extra: “‘Pet Sematary: Restoration’”

DIRECTOR MARY LAMBERT, like so many of us, is a huge Stephen King fan.

In the spring of 1988 she was editing a music video for Madonna when her agent sent over the script for “Pet Sematary.” Lambert didn’t think of herself as a horror director even though her first film was a ghost story, “Siesta.” Still, she loved King’s work; the first book of his she read was “The Shining,” and King had written the script. Long story short, after a pitch to Paramount and King, she got the job. The movie turned out to be the spring sleeper hit of the year.

Decades later, Paramount approached Lambert to supervise a restoration. A new “Pet Sematary” directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer was coming and the 1989 film would make a great introduction. Right! The Ultra 4K restoration (1.78:1 aspect ratio) looks and sounds fantastic; it’s definitely a show-off piece for Ultra HD setups, especially with the 2012 Blu-ray disc included for comparison.

They used the original film negative Lambert says in “Revisitation,” one of three new bonus features on Paramount’s release. “It captures a lot more of the information than previous formats have been able to do,” she says. “The shadows are much softer, and the colors are richer in a modulated way. It looks amazing.”

The Pet Sematary, where local children bury their pets, lays at the end of a trail near the Creed's new home. Grave markers go back for years.

The Creed's daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl) falls from a broken tire swing.

New neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) saves Gage from a speeding truck.

Fred Gwynne, of "My Cousin Vinny" and "The Munsters" TV series, as Jud Crandall.

It absolutely does. The restored “Pet Semetary” looks like a brand new recently produced film. Everything looks more realistic, with excellent contrast, depth, fine detail and natural color – even in Pascow’s (Brad Greenquist) ghostly “good angel.” There’s a good, consistent wash of film grain. “What we were also able to do was go back to some of those film opticals and make them better,” Lambert continues. “There was so much latitude in the image. You couldn’t make edits or put new things in but [for what was] there, it’s surprising what you can do with digital manipulation.”

“It’s every director’s dream to have a movie that outdoes expectations and people like,” — Director Mary Lambert

Most King fans know the story was inspired by a blend of W.W. Jacobs’ short story, “The Monkey’s Paw,” and the King family’s experiences when they lived in a rural home in Maine. (If you’re new to PS, check out the earlier extras.) Jacobs’ story is still considered one of the best ever written. The film begins when the young Creed family relocates to a home in a rural area of Maine. Their closest neighbor, Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) lives across the road, where giant 18-wheelers speed. The Creeds notice a pathway near their home leading into the woods. Later, Jud takes them on a tour to its destination, the Pet Sematary, where children bury their little friends, usually after they’ve been hit by one of the trucks. It’s the children’s first lesson in dealing with life, he explains. Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby), the mother, is appalled by the idea.

There’s another burial ground just beyond the children’s graveyard, however, a forbidden place according to the local Native Americans. The dead buried there are said to return to life, but not as they once were. Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) and his family soon discover why.

Viewers know how King’s book and movie will play out. It’s part of the fascination, but like Jacobs’ story, there’s enough suspense and uncertainty that we’re never sure exactly how. “People still love the movie because it’s a really good story. It deals with a taboo subject, which the best horror movies do in a way that is tolerable, and that’s the death of a child. Stephen’s story is so carefully woven that it allows you to deal with that subject,” Lambert says. One of the new features, “Fear and Remembrance,” looks back at the 1989 film while promoting the 2019 release starring Jason Clarke (Louis Creed) and John Lithgow (Jud Crandall). It looks fascinating, but a sure bet there will be more violence and gore and the requisite profanity.

Jud takes the Creed family on a tour of the Pet Sematary.

Louis tries to help a young student injured in a hit and run at the university. As he dies, Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) says, "The soil in a man's heart is stonier" - words that will quickly come to haunt Louis.

Louis finds his daughter's cat, Church, dead, hit by another speeding truck. He had promised to take care of it while she was away at her grandparent's.

The forbidden ancient burial ground beyond the children's pet graveyard. In the book, it was suggested it had been used by a Native American tribe, the Micmacs, who buried those killed by an evil spirit making it forbidden territory.

Ellie's cat returns from the dead with a demonic personality.

Audio is delivered by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is a carryover from the Blu-ray release. It works well bringing clear dialogue, and good ambient and special effects throughout the room. The score is by Elliot Goldenthal, who also composed for “Frida” and “Across the Universe.” Joey Ramone, a good friend of Lambert’s, delivered the end-theme, “I Don’t Want to be Buried in a Pet Sematary.” Another hit for The Ramones.


Paramount also ports over the original extras for this 30th Anniversary Edition including Lambert’s commentary; “Stephen King Territory” about filming in Maine and the story’s origins; “The Characters” with interviews from King, Lambert and the actors; and “Filming the Horror,” which gives Lambert a chance to talk about working with King and little Miko Hughes (Gage Creed), creating the fire scene, and differences between the book and film ending. New extras also include “Behind-the-Scenes Image Galleries.” Both the new and original extras can be found on the Blu-ray. The Ultra 4K has the commentary and the new featurettes.

“I loved the book and I didn’t want to change it, I just wanted to make it work as a movie,” Lambert concludes. Every director craves good feedback, she says – and this woman has earned her share!

— Kay Reynolds

Bad luck and tragedy hits all the Creeds.


Mad with grief, Louis digs up his dead son.

Rachel has nightmares of her invalid sister, Zelda (Andrew Hubatsek) who died in her care. Rachel, 8, was traumatized by the event.

Jud Crandall's house burns as Louis carries his wife's corpse away.

"Sometimes dead is better."


30th Anniversary Featurette



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