With just about every one of Stephen King's novels now covered by a movie or TV version, it was only a matter of time before unauthorized sequels started hitting the screen. PET SEMATARY II--which was not only unendorsed, but actually trashed in advance by King himself--establishes an
instant nadir for unofficial adaptations of the modern horror master.
The protagonist is young Geoff Matthews (Edward Furlong) who in the film's opening moments watches in horror as his divorced actress mother Renee (Darlanne Fluegel) is electrocuted in a freak movie-set mishap. Instead of suing for big bucks, Jeff's father Chase (Anthony Edwards) takes the boy up
to his hometown of Ludlow, Maine, to bury his ex-wife and open a veterinary practice while trying to rebuild his relationship with his son. At his new school, Jeff gets on the bad side of the bullying Clyde (Jared Rushton), but makes friends with the overweight Drew (Jason McGuire), who himself
has problems at home with his bullying sheriff father Gus (Clancy Brown). As it turns out, Gus was Chase's old rival for Renee's affections, so there's plenty of tension to go around, even before the titular locale starts to figure into the picture.
Pretty soon, Jeff has been told of the pet cemetery and the ancient Indian burial grounds behind the site, which apparently can revive dead bodies planted there. He and Drew soon get a chance to test its powers, when Gus shoots Drew's dog Zowie in a fit of anger. The two boys bury the dog in the
Indian cemetery, and soon he's returned to life, almost good as new. But when the animal is brought into Chase's office for a checkup, and Chase sends some of its blood to a lab for testing, the doctor is startled when he's informed that the samples seem to have come from a dead animal.
Soon, Zowie escapes from Chase's office and attacks Gus as the latter is about to beat Drew. The sheriff is soon lying dead from a torn-out throat, Drew and Jeff look at each other, and.... Gus is soon revived too, though he comes back with a moldy appearance, a taste for rough sex with wife
Amanda (Lisa Waltz) and lousy table manners. Despite all this, Jeff, who is still grieving over his dead mother, starts to have the inevitable ideas, which haunt him in nightmares. Gus's actions soon take a turn for the horrific: he contrives the deaths of Amanda and Drew in a traffic accident,
kills Clyde and buries him in the Indian grounds, and unearths Renee's body, presenting it to Jeff for the obvious purpose.
Meanwhile, Chase, unnerved by the strange recent events, has gone to see Ludlow's former vet, Dr. Yolander (Jim Peck), who warns him that horrible forces are at work in the town. But Chase doesn't heed the warnings in time; soon he is being threatened by a power-drill-wielding Gus, and discovering
that his ex-wife has been brought back from the dead by a smiling Jeff. At the same time, a similarly undead, ax-wielding Clyde is waiting in the wings, and the climax finds father and son fending off his murderous attack in the attic, as Renee looks on and the house starts to burn down around
For all its many flaws, the original PET SEMATARY at least maintained a fidelity to its source novel; this one not only ignores the rules set up by the first movie but manages to contradict its own internal and dramatic logic as well. Although it's repeatedly stated that you must "bury your own"
in order for the burial ground's powers to work, Gus manages to inter and revive Clyde, a character he shares no relation to; and despite a story setup that seems to demand that Furlong's character be the one to dig up his mother for resuscitation, it is Gus who hands over the corpse to him (in a
scene that's shot in the style of a dream sequence, but is presented as a literal event). And the growing, personal sense of horror that powered King's book gets completely lost in Richard Outten's muddled screenplay. It's nearly forty minutes before the first character (actually, the dog) is
reanimated, at which point the film rushes to compensate, winding up with an everybody-into-the-cemetery free-for-all in which just about everybody gets killed and/or brought back to life, as if director Mary Lambert felt the more the scarier.
Actually, it's just disgusting, especially when it comes to the numerous grotesque scenes of animal mutilation. For a film ostensibly concerned with the revivification of animals, this one dotes unpleasantly on shot dogs, slaughtered and skinned rabbits and, in the movie's sickest scene, a bunch
of massacred kittens discovered by two little girls. The cast looks better on paper than that of the first PET SEMATARY, but Furlong walks through the proceedings with one-note sullenness, Edwards is restricted to a lot of disbelieving looks and dialogue and the female characters are ciphers. Only
Brown manages to stand above the material; even as a zombie, he displays more life than the supposedly living characters. Pray tell, where can we bury this so that it won't come back for a third installment? (Excessive violence, profanity, adult situations, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: With just about every one of Stephen King's novels now covered by a movie or TV version, it was only a matter of time before unauthorized sequels started hitting the screen. PET SEMATARY II--which was not only unendorsed, but actually trashed in advance by… (more)