Stephen King's books, some of them twice, and Pet Sematary scared me the most because the wish fulfillment at work is so incredibly basic. Who wouldn't want a beloved pet to return, or a beloved relative?
I liked this movie although I never saw either the sequel or the remake. The tagline from the movie, "Sometimes dead is better" is kind of my policy on remakes--sometimes you just need to let a movie die. Seriously. Now that we have Blu-Ray and VOD and streaming and netflix and hulu and whatever, you really don't need to remake a movie for a new audience because each generation of audience can see the original for themselves.
But I digress.
I liked the casting in this movie. Dale Midkiff was fine as the father who can't resist the oportunity to bring his son back. This movie is King's version of The Monkey's Paw and audiences were screaming "Don't do it" when I first saw it.
Denise Crosby's role as his wife was probably the best role she ever had on the big screen.
The person I really liked, though, was Fred Gwynne, who played the neighbor who holds the secret of the Pet Sematary. Three years later he played the long-suffering judge on My Cousin Vinny and he was a hoot. Here he is utterly convincing as a man who talks about having a heart like stony ground, but who can't help but interfere when he sees his neighbor suffering.
Stephen King has a cameo in the film as a minister, and he's better than M. Night Shyamalan in his cameos, but not by much. He's about on a par with Peter Benchley, who made a brief appearance in Jaws.
The movie was directed by Mary Lambert, who also directed the sequel. Lambert's film career never really got any traction, although she has directed a number of genre films (and has one in production) and a lot of music videos for Sting and Lionel Ritchie and similar superstar talents.
There are some genuine frights in this movie, and the idea itself is just damn creepy. The book is even creepier, so you might want to read it first just to get the full effect.