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PET SEMATARY II

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 13, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: In April of 1989, the first adaptation of Stephen King’s novel ‘Pet Sematary’ became an unexpected box-office hit. What was not unexpected was that a sequel would soon follow. But this one didn’t make any kind of dent at the box office, and for good reason. (The original film was remade last year and was yet again a box-office hit; can a remake of the sequel be far off?) Anyway, here’s ‘Pet Sematary II,’ in a new Blu-ray upgrade from The Shout! Factory, along with copious bonus features. Go figure. My review was published in the Deseret News on Aug. 29, 1992.

Whether by accident or design, Stephen King's name is nowhere to be seen in the credits for "Pet Sematary II," though it is a sequel to the movie based on his novel. Not that he's embarrassed, of course. Anyone who would take credit for "Stephen King's Sleepwalkers" can't be embarrassed too easily.

None of the first film's cast carries over to "Pet Sematary II," though the director does. After all, Mary Lambert presided over the first exercise in dreck and it made big money, so why not its sequel?

"Pet Sematary II" begins with a movie star (Darlanne Fluegel) being electrocuted on the set of her latest movie — a horror movie, of course — while her young son watches. He's played by Edward Furlong (the boy in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day").

Furlong's mother and veterinarian father (Anthony Edwards) were separated, though there are hints that they were working at a reconciliation when she died. Father and son take Fluegel's body to her hometown of Ludlow, Maine, for her burial — though she apparently has no family there.

     

Anthony Edwards, left, Edward Furlong, Jason McGuire, Clancy Brown, ‘Pet Sematary II’ (1992)

And while there, they decide to stay and adapt to small-town life, leaving Los Angeles behind. But Ludlow has a secret.

Those who saw the first film know there is an old Indian burial ground where creatures that are buried "by their own" rise up from the dead. But these resurrected creatures don't rise up as happy campers. They are closer to a broadly (and unintentionally) comic version of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" zombies.

As they settle in, Furlong befriends a chubby kid (Jason McGuire) who is picked on at school by bullies (led by Jared Rushton). This, naturally, leads to Furlong also getting picked on as they taunt him about his dead movie-star mother.

If that's not enough, McGuire is also harassed by his stepfather, the local sheriff (Clancy Brown), a sadistic jerk. At one point, he grabs a rifle and shoots the boy's pet dog.

     

This is what sets the real plot into motion: The boys bury the mutt at the dreaded title place and wait for it to come back from the dead. It does. Then, McGuire takes the dog to Edwards to get the pooch's bloody wounds patched up. But Edwards finds that even after three days the wounds won't heal. He becomes suspicious, but, of course, doesn't believe what's really going on.

Soon Brown and Rushton are killed, buried and get up again — and before you know it, Furlong realizes that he could bring his mother back with this little trick.

With not much story to direct, Lambert propels the movie with violence and gore and stupidity, not necessarily in that order. It's the old slasher-movie ploy — make the killing and gore creative instead of worrying about story and character.

Lambert even resorts to that worn-out cliché, the cat jumping out of a cupboard (in this case, a cage) to scare the protagonist and, supposedly, the audience. Now, that's desperation.

"Pet Sematary II" is rated R for violence, gore, sex, nudity, profanity and vulgarity.