Pet Sematary Two

Edward Furlong has a cat. His friend has a dead dog. This is the start of a beautiful friendship.

In many ways, Pet Sematary Two is actually a better movie than Pet Sematary. It is better shot, better edited, better acted. Its production design and visual scheme is more coherent and consistent. That doesn’t make it The Bicycle Thief.

The problem, again, is the script, which actually manages to be less interesting than the first, even without Stephen King around to screw it up.

Edward Furlong’s mother, a Famous Actress, is dead and Edward would prefer she not be so.

As with Pet Sematary, the protagonist takes a Very Long Time to do anything about his problem. The mother dies in the very first scene and the movie takes an astounding 77 minutes (out of 100) to get around to addressing her death. Those 77 minutes are taken up with an assortment of subplots about Edward’s father (Anthony “I Can’t Believe I’m In This Movie” Edwards), his father’s new girlfriend, his father’s new veterinary practice, a kitten, a bully at school, his friend Drew, Drew’s relationship with his stepfather, Drew’s dead dog, Drew’s stepfather’s rabbits, a crazy ex-veterinarian, Drew’s stepfather’s relationship with Edward’s dead mother, Drew’s stepfather’s relationship with his (Drew’s) dead dog, and on and on.  This means that the protagonist’s storyline actually takes up quite a bit less screen time than the subplots.  It’s like the movie is really about Drew and is bookended by the protagonist’s story as an afterthought.

I give director Mary Lambert credit for actually having the nerve to throw in a number of visual references to DePalma’s Body Double and Kubrick’s The Shining.  It’s as though she’s saying “Okay, I know I don’t have that kind of talent, but at least I can recognize that someone does, and I should get some credit for that, right?”

One question: Hollywood can gouge out an eye, chop off a head, set a person on fire and put a drill through any part of the body they choose, but why are they incapable of replicating a dead animal on screen?  Without exception, what we see is: shot of a live animal, cut to a reaction shot from a human, then cut back to see a completely different animal, now dead, with completely different fur and seemingly now without bones.  It happens four or five times in this movie, with dogs and cats and rats and rabbits.  If you’re going to make a movie called Pet Sematary Two, spend a little money on your dead animals, people, please!
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40 Responses to “Pet Sematary Two”
  1. eronanke says:

    Speaking of Dead…
    I just watched “Land of the Dead”. Man, get those SFX ppl to work on animals and I’m sure they’d come up with something good.

    • Todd says:

      What did you think of Land of the Dead?

      • eronanke says:

        I understand the political/sociological elements, but they don’t fit with my concept of ‘zombiedom’. Here is my list of least to most scary zombies:
        a) Magical zombie (eg, Voodoo-based)
        b) groups of magical zombies (ie., an army)
        c) a non-magical zombie whether
        i. genetically engineered (like Resident Evil) or
        ii. disease-based (accidental exposure through virii or other source, like 28 Days Later)
        d) Groups of non-magical zombies
        e) FAST MOVING non-magical zombies
        f) Twitching FAST MOVING zombies.
        g) Fast moving, THINKING zombies.

        So, in short, I hate the idea of the zombies in “Land of the Dead”. My knowledge of biology helped me when viewing this movie, though, because I kept saying, “No way- sorry guys. Doesn’t make sense….etc.” For example: zombies attempting repetitive activities they were familiar with in life, I can understand that. Zombies LEARNING new skills, when, theoretically they are only surviving on their basest neurological functions, (like feed, kill, etc), made me fairly confused.
        I have no problem with zombies congregating, but developing a hierarchy? With a single understood and unquestioned leader? I find that very suspicious.
        Besides that, the ‘human’ element made me frustrated. I kept thinking, why in heaven’s name would the hero try and leave? To go to a potentially uninhabited Canada? (Which, by the way, offends in itself!) We already saw that sort of attempt in “Dawn of the Dead”, and we know it ended in death for anyone who reached their destination.
        I also did not understand Dennis Hopper’s motivations; a wise, Machiavellian Prince-like character would reward his ‘goons’ rather than risk their wrath. He should have given John Leguizamo an apartment. That would have made him more loyal, and more likely to be a good city-defender, which, obviously, is what they needed, given that the zombies began to organize.
        On the whole, it was good, but deep in a shallow way, you know what I mean?
        PS- Zombies shouldn’t be able to breathe underwater.
        PPS- If you want to make smart zombies, make it such that there’s a reason. Like, for example, the time differential between being bit and being zombified could affect the zombie’s intelligence. I think dropping a hint like that would have been great; and it would allow for an evolution of a real zombie hierarchy, and a potential for understanding between them and regular humans.
        PPPS- 28 Days Later scared the f@ck out of me. For realz. First movie in YEARS to rob me of sleep.

  2. dougo says:

    I totally thought that was Liv Tyler on the left.

  3. craigjclark says:

    Ahh, Pet Sematary II. Didn’t even bother with that one. I’m curious as to why you did.

    You know, for a time it seemed like Edward Furlong was destined to star in the second movie of every series. (Just prior to this, he had done Terminator 2, after all.)

    • Todd says:

      I’m curious as to why you did.

      Oh, you know me. Working on a zombie movie idea, gotta watch zombie movies.

      • craigjclark says:

        Have you tried any of the classics, like Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked with a Zombie? I know, it’s not the same kind of zombie movie, but it would probably be a welcome reprieve from the likes of these brain-dead flicks.

        And what about Re-Animator? Or Dead Alive (which was called Braindead in its native New Zealand), for that matter?

        • Todd says:

          I’ve seen Dead Alive, which I did not like and which formed my understanding of Peter Jackson. He’s still the same director with the same faults, but working on a much bigger canvas now.

          I haven’t seen I Walked With a Zombie, but I am a fan of Tourneur’s work. On the “realistic” zombie-movie front, I did see Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow, which was surprisingly non-horror for its subject matter, almost like a John Schlesinger picture.

          • craigjclark says:

            Mostly agreed about Jackson. Until King Kong came along, I thought The Frighteners was his most flawed film. I wish he would make another film like Heavenly Creatures, though. (You know, one that’s under two hours and has a streamlined plot.)

            I was going to mention The Serpent and the Rainbow as well, but it slipped my mind while I was composing my reply. I can also recommend Joe Dante’s Homecoming from the “Masters of Horror” series. It’s available on DVD, so not having Showtime isn’t an impediment to seeing it.

            • Todd says:

              I saw The Homecoming after much hype and found it obvious, sluggish and unscary. I would probably have felt differently if I had stumbled across it unawares.

      • ghostgecko says:

        Groovy! The world needs more zombie movies. So much psychology to mine – fear of death being one of those basic things. I’ve seen . . . lord, probably more than anyone should. So, what does Mr. Alcott have to say that’s new and different about walking corpses?

        I particularly liked Re-Animator and the whole “reanimation as a substitute for reproduction” theme (after I forced him to watch it, wrote a whole essay on it: I’m probably the lone person who didn’t like 28 Days Later and its stupid skipframe zombies, but I’ve already ranted about that.

        • Todd says:

          what does Mr. Alcott have to say that’s new and different about walking corpses?

          Two words: highbrow zombies.

          • craigjclark says:

            I like the way Mr. Alcott thinks.

          • ghostgecko says:

            I must have asked you this before, because I seem to recall this answer. Memory like steel sieve. I’m wondering if the treatment of the material or the zombies themselves are highbrow (they only eat brains that have been educated at ivy league schools?). It’s so hard to do anything new and different with horror movies, it seems. Running on a treadmill. I’m writing a vampire book for nanowrimo and it’s a pain trying to come up with something that I haven’t read somewhere else. I’m trying to go at it from a sociological perspective. What sort of mutual living arangements, laws and so on, would be passed if people actually had to deal with sentient predators living among them.

            • Todd says:

              Perhaps highbrow is the wrong word. Point is, the movie I’m working on is less flesh-eating horror and more spine-tingling thriller.

              Romero’s Land of the Dead, although unsubtle and flawed, addresses the idea of society moving on in spite of the end of the world.

              Les Revenants (marketed in the US as They Came Back) gives us a scenario where the dead all come back and we not only must live with them as a society, we must each deal with all the personal issues their sudden arrival raises.

              • ghostgecko says:

                That’ll be interesting, because the focus lately has been on special effects and spectacle and not a lot of thought. As much as I like horror movies, and enjoy the gross out special effects, I do get bored wanting something a little more plotty. Maybe not as plotty as Cemetary Man. More on the level of Re-A.
                I’ve been trying to find a copy of Les Revenants since you mentioned it, the low key approach is similar to what I’m going for. Unlike the Dead movies, though, I’m not so much interested in post apocalyptic scenarios as how an intact society would have to fit carnivorous people into their lives. Post-apocalypse scenarios are too easy, because it’s just caveman stuff, only replacing sabre-toothed tigers with walking corpses, and of course everything devolves to a lot of running around and shooting. I’m working more along the lines of that Schiavo fiasco, and little things like, would a dead guy’s driver’s license be valid still?

                • Todd says:

                  Les Revenants doesn’t get to the level of how a zombie menace affects the DMV, but it does discuss at length how the dead will be re-inserted into society. Do they get their old jobs back? What if they’re no longer competent at their jobs? Do the old people (who are most of them after all) go back on social security? Where shall they all be housed? What about the families who don’t want their loved ones back? Do the dead have all the same rights as the living? Should they be treated differently? If they want to leave the community center and go out wandering in the night, do we have the right to follow them and see what they’re up to? Is that an illegal use of surveillance? And so forth.

                  • ghostgecko says:

                    Yep, exactly. I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t watch the movie until I’m done writing. Of course, with my thing the important difference is that vampires need to use humans as a food source and I believe you said these aren’t brain-eating zombies. That adds a whole different dimension to interaction between the species.

                    • Todd says:

                      Yeah, they’re not brain-eating, they’re not even unpleasant. They’re just back, which is enough to freak everyone out.