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WRITTEN REVIEW: Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary

Growing up, I was introduced to horror through some of the more palatable forms of terror. There were Halloween episodes of certain popular sitcoms (Roseanne, Home Improvement) that were always a spooky and fun treat to look forward to. There were the child themed anthology shows Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? that were perfect for my age. These shows would later draw me to Tales From the Crypt which I would watch during my summer vacations. After everyone went to bed, I would sneak over to HBO and Cinemax to see what bloody horror and rockin' boobage I could find. Tales From the Crypt, thankfully, delivering in BOTH categories. But another HUGE influence on me as a young horror fanatic was through the film and television adaptations of Stephen King.

Aside from renting these movies, I always looked forward to basic cable programing during the Halloween season. They would often, and still do, air horror movies that appealed to a more broad audience – less exploitation, and less blood n guts. Among the Child's Play franchise, and Amityville Horror was a slew of King inspired films, many of which I still have a deep fondness for. Sure there are the classics (Carrie, Children of the Corn, The Shining), but for me, some of the more memorable are the later adaptations; Night Flyer, Thinner, and Pet Sematary.

Pet Sematary got under my skin while it pulled me into it's world. It caught my imagination and filled me with wonder. I wanted to know more about the town and how it first discovered the Native American burial ground, and also the mechanics of the dead coming back to life. This, combined with such memorable visuals and bits of dialogue, left a lasting impression on me. To this day I still randomly quote Fred Gwynne's character - “Ya gotta bury yer own” and “tha grownds gone souwa”. It's just so memorable.

But I'm not the only one who felt the impact of Pet Sematary. Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is a labor of love for two avid horror fans, John Campopiano & Justin White, who set out to document their quest to locate the filming locations of the Pet Sematary. Along the way they discovered little known facts and behind the scenes info that hadn't ever been shared before, and their documented trip became The Path to Pet Sematary.

The film chronicles Pet Sematary's development and production. It covers everything, from King's inspiration for the story, which he later shelved before being talked into releasing it to great acclaim. The film also features scores of interviews from both cast and crew, including director Mary Lambert, and stars Denis Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dale Midkiff (Time Trax) and Miko Huges (Kindergarten Cop) among others.

Everything, from the terrific performances of Miko, who was just a toddler at the time, and the on set guidance of the late Fred Gwynne are discussed in great detail. Also covered is the grotesque special effects and the explanation as to how the Pascow home was burned to the ground, utilizing a facade built over an existing house. The house survived, but sadly the same can't be said about little Gage (Miko).

Did you know that Stephen King stipulated that his story would now be adapted unless the studio film Pet Semetary in King's home state of Maine? It was a big deal, and a great expense to the studio, but in was totally worth it in the end.

The only complaint I have is that I could have used more Stephen King. There is little archival footage of King, and several interviewed cast and crew who recounted their relationship with the author as he visited the set. It would have been nice to hear his thought on the film, in his own words. But hey, he's a busy guy and I'm sure he would have cost a fortune to have him interviewed. But, ya know.

With all that said, if you're a fan of the Stephen King classic, then I highly recommend that you check out Unearthed and Untold. It's a fascinating film for the fans, made by the fans. What can be better than that?


★ ★ ★ ½