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‘Pet Sematary: 30th Anniversary Edition’ 4K Ultra HD review

April 18, 2019

Director Mary Lambert’s 1989 film based on arguably one of Stephen King’s scariest novels debuts on ultra-high definition to offer horror fans more creeps than frights in Pet Sematary: 30th Anniversary Edition (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated R, 103 minutes, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $25.99).

A graveyard catering to dead pets and an accompanying Indian burial ground set the stage for a creepy tale that finds the resting places not being very restful to deceased animals or humans.

Enter the Creed family moving from Chicago to a rural Maine town and into a house near the cemeteries as well as a dangerous road. Life quickly turns tragic after beloved cat Church and young son Gage die from rampaging trucks.

A grief-stricken father Louis (Dale Midkiff) does the unthinkable with coaxing from a well-intentioned, elderly neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred “Herman Munster” Gwynn) leading to some resurrections with horrifying consequences.

A splash of gore, a bit of camp from a helpful rotting corpse, an ungrateful homicidal toddler and a heavy dose of despair and desperation highlight the supernatural, sometimes sickening shenanigans.

Notable performances include the late actor Gwynn as Jud who knows all about the mystical burial grounds and he eventually pays the price for helping Louis with his unholy acts.

Besides Mr. King writing the screenplay, the film may also be best remembered for giving the punk band The Ramones a major commercial success with the ending theme song appropriately titled “Pet Sematary.”

4K in action: Home viewers will appreciate an impressive 4K restoration that was rescanned from the original camera negatives and supervised by the director.

It pays rich dividends in this screen-filling presentation starting nearly immediately with the bright blue skies set against a New England summer greenery that makes the actors standing in front of the terrain literally pop out from the screen.

Equally impressive are the dusk and nighttime scenes offering purple skies and crisp views of the cemeteries featuring its wooden crosses, stonework, shrubbery and massive boulders.

Also, considering its a 30-year-old film, the grain is surprisingly minimal. Sharp details such as Gwynn’s age spots, Church’s glowing yellow eyes, the sheen from shiny red and steel semis barreling down a road and a bloody brain exposed from a fatal injury will not be forgotten.

Best extras: The 4K disc offers two new featurettes and an optional commentary track with the director ported over from the 2012 Blu-ray release.

Obviously, the solo commentary is the starting point for new fans and Miss Lambert delivers a well-spoken and deep overview of the film.

She covers topics such as being faithful to Mr. King’s novel, the characters, story details, themes of death and family, the pleasure of working with Gwynn and the scene that scares the “poop” out of people (her words).

Next, a 9-minute revisiting of the movie by Miss Lambert overlaps some of her commentary but also covers the restoration and digital manipulation of the visuals.

The other new 7-minute segment is worthless, offering a remembrance of the original relayed by the crew and cast of the 2019 remake and is basically a promotion for the new film.

Also new, Miss Lambert introduces a slideshow that contains 16 original storyboards from Andrea Dietrich covering a pivotal death scene in the movie.

The Blu-ray contains all of the above plus three vintage featurettes, again from the 2012 release, presenting roughly 30 minutes on the making of the film and featuring deeper interviews with Mr. King, Miss Lambert and Gwynn as well as the principal cast and crew.

Frankly, that trio of segments has more overlap from the commentary but offers plenty of reminiscing and comes loaded with production nuggets especially about working with toddler Miko Hughes (Gage Creed).