Pet Sematary (1989)

R | 102 mins | Horror | 21 April 1989

Director:

Mary Lambert

Writer:

Stephen King

Cinematographer:

Peter Stein

Production Designer:

Michael Z. Hanan

Production Company:

Paramount
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HISTORY

       Pet Sematary is based on Stephen King's 1983 novel of the same name published by Doubleday. According to an 8 Jun 1984 NYT article, the novel was on the NYT best-seller list for 32 weeks. A 17 Jul 1985 Var article reported the book sold over 750,000 hard-cover copies in the U.S. The inspiration for the novel occurred when King’s cat was run over by a speeding truck in 1979. One of King’s children was almost run over as well. When he finished the novel, his wife asked him not to publish it. King himself referred to the story as a “detestable book.” The manuscript was placed in a drawer for three years until King needed a novel to fulfill a contract with Doubleday.
       A 2 Dec 1988 DV news item stated that Pet Sematary marked the first time King adapted one of his own novels for the screen.
       The film differs from the novel in that the character “Missy Dandridge” does not commit suicide in the book. Also, the character, “Jud Crandall” has a wife, “Norma,” who dies of natural causes. In the novel, a “Wendingo” from the Algonquian Native American myth of a half-man half-demon creature that ate humans appears, but in the film he is only alluded to when Jud and Louis hear growling on the way to the Indian burial ground and with the toppling of trees when Louis returns to the site.
       A 14 Jun 1984 DV news item announced that producer Richard Rubinstein and director George A. Romero’s production ... More Less

       Pet Sematary is based on Stephen King's 1983 novel of the same name published by Doubleday. According to an 8 Jun 1984 NYT article, the novel was on the NYT best-seller list for 32 weeks. A 17 Jul 1985 Var article reported the book sold over 750,000 hard-cover copies in the U.S. The inspiration for the novel occurred when King’s cat was run over by a speeding truck in 1979. One of King’s children was almost run over as well. When he finished the novel, his wife asked him not to publish it. King himself referred to the story as a “detestable book.” The manuscript was placed in a drawer for three years until King needed a novel to fulfill a contract with Doubleday.
       A 2 Dec 1988 DV news item stated that Pet Sematary marked the first time King adapted one of his own novels for the screen.
       The film differs from the novel in that the character “Missy Dandridge” does not commit suicide in the book. Also, the character, “Jud Crandall” has a wife, “Norma,” who dies of natural causes. In the novel, a “Wendingo” from the Algonquian Native American myth of a half-man half-demon creature that ate humans appears, but in the film he is only alluded to when Jud and Louis hear growling on the way to the Indian burial ground and with the toppling of trees when Louis returns to the site.
       A 14 Jun 1984 DV news item announced that producer Richard Rubinstein and director George A. Romero’s production company, Laurel Entertainment, had acquired film rights for Pet Sematary and that Romero was scheduled to direct. Rubenstein remained with the project as a producer, however, Romero did not direct the film and Laurel Entertainment does not receive onscreen credit.
       An 18 Jun 1988 Screen International news item reported that Paramount Pictures acquired an option to distribute the film and Mary Lambert was to direct,
       The 17 Jul 1985 Var article claimed King was offered $1 million for the movie rights for Pet Sematary, but turned it down, refusing to sell it to anyone. However, during a script writing conference about his book The Stand, Romero and Rubinstein convinced King to write the screenplay. The 8 Jun 1984 NYT article reported King agreed to take $10,000 up front and a share of the film’s profits.
       According to the 17 Jul 1985 Var, part of King’s contract made it obligatory that the film be shot in his home state of Maine, where his novel is set. A six to eight week principal photography schedule was to begin in Mar 1986. However, a 30 Sep 1988 HR item announced that principal photography was underway with a ten week shooting schedule.
       Files in AMPAS stated that principal photography took place near Ellsworth, ME, while Bull Hill, ME, was used for the village of Ludlow. Other Maine locations included: Surrey Methodist Church, Mt. Hope Cemetery and Bangor Airport. The Creed and Crandall homes were near Ellsworth with a road that does have large trucks speeding by. The Crandall house was modified by building a shell of another house over the original structure. The “deadfall” was created by hanging fifteen truckloads of scrap wood onto steel and telephone poles, put into place under the supervision of production designer Michael Hann to create an “organic sculpture.”
       A fully articulated puppet was made of actor Miko Hughes and can be seen in the attic scene.

       An article in 27 Apr 1989 HR reported that the film grossed $12 million during its first weekend opening.
      The following statements appear in end credits: “The Producers wish to thank Eastern Express Airline and Steve Mason; The State of Maine and Maine Film Commission; Hancock County Sherriff’s Department; Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, Police Department and Fire Department; the Greater Bangor Chamber of Commerce; Maine Army National Guard Unit; Ginger McGuire; Diane Vilagi; Raymond McNeel; Michael Langley; Donna Davidge” and “No animals were harmed in any way during the making of this film.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1984.
---
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1989
p. 4, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1989
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
24 Apr 1989
p. 5.
New York Times
8 Jun 1984
Section C, p. 10.
New York Times
22 Apr 1989
p. 16.
Screen International
18 Jun 1988.
---
Variety
17 Jul 1985
pg. 81, 90.
Variety
26 Apr 1989
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Richard P. Rubinstein Production
A Mary Lambert Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
2d asst photog
Steadicam op
Still photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Ilustrator
Illustrator
Storyboard artist
Art dept prod asst
Tombstone lettering des
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Set des
Set dresser
Lead person
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop person
Prop person
Asst prop person
Const coord
Const foreman
Lead const
Paint foreperson
Asst paint foreperson
Lead greens
COSTUMES
Cost des
Key costumer
Ward supv
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Synthesizer programming
The Orchestra of St. Luke's conducted by
Mus rec
Mus score mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv ADR ed
Supv foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
The loop group
VISUAL EFFECTS
Mechanical eff
Mechanical eff coord
Eff tech
Eff tech
Eff tech
Eff tech
Image coord
Eff supv
Matte artist
Opticals
Opticals
Title des by
Titles & opticals effs by
MAKEUP
Spec make-up des
Spec make-up eff
Spec make-up eff asst
Hair/make-up des
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Asst to Elliot Goldenthal
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc scout
Loc scout
Prod office coord
Prod secy
Prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Accounting asst
Special dialog consultant
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Casting assoc, New York
Extra casting asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Ms. Lambert, Los Angeles
Asst to Ms. Lambert, Maine
Asst to prod
Asst to co-prod
Asst to Stephen King
Lab tech
Lab tech
Lab tech
Prod supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
Trainer
Trainer
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Craft sevice
Catering by
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Pet Sematary by Stephen King (Garden City, 1983).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Pet Sematary," by Dee Dee Ramone & Daniel Rey, performed by Ramones, produced by Jean Beauvoir & Daniel Rey, courtesy of Sire Records Company
"Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," written & performed by Ramones, produced by Tony Bongiovi & T. Erdelyi, courtesy of Sire Records Company by arrangement with Warner Special Products.
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 April 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 April 1989
Production Date:
began September 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
27 April 1989
Copyright Number:
PA415466
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29573
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, their young daughter Ellie, and baby son Gage, arrive at their new home in Maine. As they unpack, Ellie plays on a tire swing. Just as she spots a path leading into the woods, the swing’s rope breaks sending her to the ground. As her parents rush to help her, Gage wanders into the road in front of an oncoming dump truck. Jud Crandall, an old "swamp Yankee" who lives across the street, saves him. As the adults introduce themselves, Rachel asks Jud where the path into the woods goes. Jud promises to show them after they settle in. That night, Jud warns Louis that the road is dangerous due to all the speeding trucks and advises him to have the family cat, “Church,” fixed so he will not wander. The next day, after the Creeds meet their new housekeeper, Missy Dandridge, Jud leads them to a pet cemetery, composed of wooden crosses and tombstones arranged in three concentric circles surrounded by a deadfall, a mass of fallen trees and tangled brush. That night, Ellie worries that Church will die and makes her father promise to protect him. The following day, Louis Creed starts his first day as the new doctor at a small college when Victor Pascow, a student who has been struck by a truck, is rushed into the emergency room and dies. While Louis waits for the coroner to collect the corpse, Victor Pascow opens his eyes, calls Louis by name, and promises to return before dying again. That night, Louis is awakened by Victor’s ghost and follows ... +


Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, their young daughter Ellie, and baby son Gage, arrive at their new home in Maine. As they unpack, Ellie plays on a tire swing. Just as she spots a path leading into the woods, the swing’s rope breaks sending her to the ground. As her parents rush to help her, Gage wanders into the road in front of an oncoming dump truck. Jud Crandall, an old "swamp Yankee" who lives across the street, saves him. As the adults introduce themselves, Rachel asks Jud where the path into the woods goes. Jud promises to show them after they settle in. That night, Jud warns Louis that the road is dangerous due to all the speeding trucks and advises him to have the family cat, “Church,” fixed so he will not wander. The next day, after the Creeds meet their new housekeeper, Missy Dandridge, Jud leads them to a pet cemetery, composed of wooden crosses and tombstones arranged in three concentric circles surrounded by a deadfall, a mass of fallen trees and tangled brush. That night, Ellie worries that Church will die and makes her father promise to protect him. The following day, Louis Creed starts his first day as the new doctor at a small college when Victor Pascow, a student who has been struck by a truck, is rushed into the emergency room and dies. While Louis waits for the coroner to collect the corpse, Victor Pascow opens his eyes, calls Louis by name, and promises to return before dying again. That night, Louis is awakened by Victor’s ghost and follows him to the pet cemetery. Victor explains he is there to help Louis because the doctor tried to save him. He points toward the deadfall, warning Louis not to go where the dead walk. Louis wakes up thinking he had a bad dream, until he pulls back his bed sheets to find his feet covered with mud. Weeks later, Rachel and the children visit her family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. Louis gets a telephone call from Jud telling him that he found Church’s dead body beside the road. When Louis tells Judd that Ellie will be inconsolable, the swamp Yankee suggests there may be a way to spare her grief. He leads Louis past the pet cemetery, to an Indian burial ground, built of granite stones set in the same sort of concentric circles as the pet cemetery. Refusing to say why, Jud instructs Louis to bury Church there saying, “Each buries his own,” and warning that their action must remain secret. The next day, Louis walks into his garage and is shocked to see Church hissing at him. The cat scratches his face when Louis picks him up. That night, Jud explains that when he was a boy he buried his dog, Spot, in the Indian burial ground after it was killed by a truck. Spot returned the next day, but had turned vicious. When Spot died of old age, Jud reburied him the pet cemetery. When Louis asks if anyone ever buried a non-Indian there, Jud yells “No!” When his family returns, Ellie tells Louis she dreamed that he and Jud buried Church in the pet cemetery, then notices that Church smells bad. Meanwhile, Missy Danridge hangs herself in her cellar. Rachel, who refused to go to the funeral, overhears Louis theorizing with Ellie about what happens after death. Ellie asks if God can send people back? Looking at Church, Louis says, “Yes.” Later, Rachel confesses to Louis that when she was eight years old, her sister, Zelda, was hidden away in a back room while suffering and dying from spinal meningitis. Rachel was forced to feed her although she was terrified of her sister’s emaciated state, and wished Zelda would die. When Zelda passed away, Rachel feared people would accuse her of choking her sister to death and ran away from home. In the spring, Louis and Gage fly a kite. When Ellie distracts Louis, Gage drops the kite’s string spool, which rolls into the road. Gage follows and is struck and killed by a speeding truck. After the funeral, Jud confesses he lied when he said no non-Indian was ever buried in the Indian burial ground. A father, whose son was slain in World War II, buried his boy in the sacred grounds only to have him return and murder a small child. The townsmen killed both father and son by setting fire to their house. Jud blames himself for Gage’s death because he introduced Louis to the burial ground’s power. Days later, when Rachel and Ellie leave to visit Rachel’s parents, Louis promises Ellie he will make everything right. Louis visits Gage’s grave. The revivified Victor Pascow appears and declares the Indian ground soil is “sour,” but Louis pledges that if Gage comes back evil, he will kill him. In Chicago, Ellie wakes up screaming that Pascow warned her Louis is doing something bad. Rachel recognizes the name and calls Louis. Unable to reach him, she telephones Jud. When he cannot tell her where Louis is, she flies home. On the plane, she dreams of her sister Zelda who threatens that she and Gage are coming to make Rachel pay for letting them die. With Pascow’s unseen help, Rachel makes her flight connections and rents a car. On the way home, she hits a wet patch on the road and crashes. Pascow declares that the “force” is trying to stop her. Meanwhile, Jud has fallen asleep on his porch and does not see Louis carrying Gage’s body to the Indian burial ground. As he passes over the deadfall, Louis sees a tree topple over and hears a giant creature rampaging in the woods. Louis digs Gage’s grave and begs the boy to come back to him. He returns home and collapses in his bed. As Louis sleeps, Gage walks into the house followed by Church. The boy removes a scalpel from his father’s medical bag, then runs across the road towards Jud’s house. Jud wakes up and sees tiny wet footprints leading upstairs. Armed with a pocketknife, he kneels down to look under his bed. Church jumps out. Jud catches his breath, but Gage pops out and cuts his hamstring, then tears his throat out with his teeth. Meanwhile, Rachel, who hitched a ride with a truck driver, arrives. Pascow appears and announces he can go no further. Rachel hears her name being called from Jud’s house. She follows the tiny footprints upstairs to find Zelda crouching in Jud’s bedroom. Rachel closes her eyes and when she opens them, she sees Gage dressed in a nineteenth century baby gown with a top hat, identical to a picture that hung outside Zelda’s room. Although the boy holds the scalpel, Rachel swoops down to hug him. Louis hears screaming, falls out of bed and discovers tiny footprints leading to his medical bag. The telephone rings and Louis answers to hear Rachel’s father asking if she is home yet. He tells him “yes,” then hangs up. The telephone rings again. This time it is Gage saying he has already played with Jud and his mother, and now wants to play with daddy. Louis fills a syringe with poison, crosses the road and stabs it into Church. He goes inside, and finds Jud’s corpse under the bed. As he walks into the hall, Rachel’s body drops from above and nearly hits him. Gage leaps down from the attic, knocking him to the floor, and causing him to drop the syringe. Gage stabs his father in the chest, but Louis pulls another needle from his jacket and stabs the boy in the throat. After setting Jud’s house on fire, Louis carries Rachel toward the Indian burial ground. Pascow appears begging Louis not to do it, but he insists Rachel is freshly dead and can be saved. That night, Louis waits in the kitchen when a bloody Rachel returns. As they embrace, Rachel picks up a kitchen knife and stabs him to death.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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