A. Zombie Reviews . . . Pet Sematary II By A. Zombie
Rated: R (Violence, adult language, sexuality, rape)
Starring: Edward Furlong, Anthony Edwards, Clancy Brown, Jared Rushton, Darlanne Fluegel
Synopsis: After his wife’s violent on-set death, veterinarian Chase Matthews and his son Jeff move to Ludlow to rebuild their lives away from Los Angeles. Harassed endlessly by the neighborhood kids, Jeff finds a friend in Drew Gilbert, who fears his abusive stepfather, Gus. After Gus murders Drew’s other best friend, his dog, the boys take the body to the nearby Indian burial grounds—rumored to resurrect any dead buried in the soil. When evil returns, the boys realize sometimes dead dogs should be left to lie.[Official Synopsis]
Because I wanted to question every decision I’ve made this week, I opted to pick what film to watch by drawing a title from a hat. The pickings weren’t great to begin with, given my options, but I believe I scraped the bottom of the barrel labeled “Trying Too Hard.”
The script came from someone who missed the mark in the struggle to create a comprehensive love note not only to Stephen King’s original Pet Sematary script, but his works in general. Bumping up the age of the children involved brought the interpersonal drama in line with what King fans found in IT and Carrie. Where the writing failed was when the bullying never panned out to anything except trauma-porn to make the script darker. There’s no satisfying end to the bullying where lessons are learned. It just keeps going until the movie has to end.
In order to make sure viewers know they’re watching a horror flick, it takes place over Halloween week. They also included far too many unnecessary quick camera jumps to mangled animals to make up for the lacking story line. Not to mention logic jumps beyond comprehension. The bad guy died. Two thirteen year old boys hauled him up that terrifying path—for non-readers, the path to the burial ground could kill you two-thousand different ways and no one would find your body—and then dug through hard as hell dirt up there? Add in the dog seemingly capable of teleporting, plus giving Chase sex dreams with his dead wife, and it’s too much. King’s books are weird, but animals don’t usually inspire sexy things.
Casting is one of the few things going for the movie. Furlong is appreciatively creepy. Edwards makes a decent straight guy facing all the weird. Clancy Brown is a personal favorite, though his character had no depth beyond being a bully. The supporting cast isn’t too shabby, either. Too bad they didn’t get a better script to work with.
The effects are on par with the original film. There may be a few more gallons of blood in the sequel. The major time effects failed was, unfortunately, in the opening death scene. Through no fault of the effects team, though; the sequence was about two minutes too long. Better editing would’ve made it far more jarring. There’s many instances where effects are overdone in an effort to shock. Again, this completely misses the mark trying to honor King’s work.
Overall I’m giving Pet Sematary II two mangled paws out of five. One for casting, one for the effort put into the effects. This is a pass for your animal horror movie marathons. Watch Cujo or the original Pet Sematary.
Jenna should be having the time of her life at college. Instead, her only desire is survival. She lives in a world gone insane after a virus kills most of the population. Being alive after the apocalypse is bad, but when the undead return, hungry for humans, times turn darker. For Jenna and a small group of survivors, the goal is to reach the High Point Inn. At the inn, Jenna develops feelings for Caleb, who, while exotic and intoxicating, is not quite human. Will this new utopia last?
Interview with Lisa Acerbo
When did you first begin writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
I majored in English during college, thinking that I wanted to become a journalist, but instead became an English teacher at the high school level. While a full time teacher now, I have also continued to write and publish. Before turning to fiction, my articles appeared in the Connecticut Post, Trumbull Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter. Writing a novel was on my bucket list, so now that I have completed the goal, I am changing my bucket list entry to writing a series of books.
What books and authors have most influenced your life?
I am a huge fan of Shakespeare. Reading Macbeth in high school is the reason I decided to major in English and literature in college. Lady Macbeth is so misunderstood and pure evil! I also love Stephen King and recently completed two of his new books – Joyland and Doctor Sleep. These stories remind me why I enjoy teaching others about literature and practicing the craft myself. Even though I could never come close to King’s level of mastery, reading great stories makes me want to become a better writer.
Tell us a little about Jenna and how she developed for you as a character.
Jenna, the main character, lives in this crazy, deadly post-apocalyptic world overrun with stalkers, another name for zombies. I love Jenna, the hero of the story. She is tough, smart and sassy and has this innate ability to stay alive in the craziest situations. What more could you want? I’m not sure if she is all that likable; a zombie apocalypse can cause some people to be on edge and grumpy, but she is fiercely loyal to her friends, and that counts for a whole lot when you fight the evil undead.
Faced with a world infested with flesh-eating biters, what would be your go-to method of defense and why?
I have been reading The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, and he provides many great tips. Since I can ride a horse, I’d use one for faster transportation once gas became scarce. I can’t aim well. Instead of a gun, I think an axe would work to hold off the scavenging zombies, at least for a while. I hate that they have to get close, but I could do some serious damage with an axe. Of course, the assumption is that I don’t trip over my own two feet and end up a quick meal for the undead.
In this ever-changing world, it behooves us to be prepared for disaster to happen at any moment. The Zombie Survival Crew members have a “go-bag” filled with items essential for their survival should disaster strike and they must flee to survive. What are the most essential items for your go-bag and why?
Can my daughter fit in the bag? Other than the family members I would attempt to save, I would have a “go-bag” with basic medical supplies, water bottles, and food such as rice and granola bars. Some granola bars last for a year (I cannot imagine what is in the product, but if they keep me alive, I’ll eat them). Tools would include a Swiss Army knife, flashlight, matches, and a small, easily concealed weapon to use on zombies or evil humans who come my way.
How did you come up with the premise for Apocalipstick? And what do you feel makes your book stand out in the zombie lit world?
I love zombie movies and vampire books such as the Chicagoland vampire series. Reading some of the recent book releases in the genre and watching movies like Shaun of the Dead and World War Z sparked the desire to try my hand at writing my own zombie novel. I kept wondering what would happen if vampires had to fight zombies? The answer is in Apocalipstick.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing for a horror audience?
I want to make sure to scare the audience and keep readers in suspense. That is hard to do and I find it challenging when writing fight scenes. The scene should not only be about zombie gore, but needs to make the reader worry about the main characters and what will happen to them next.
Tell us a little bit about Jenna’s love interest, Caleb. Are there any other special characters we’ll meet within the pages of Apocalipstick?
At first, Jenna lives only survive a life full of zombies, death, and chaos, but after she helps a small group of survivors reach the safe haven of the High Point Inn, she gets the chance to relax. At the inn, Jenna develops feelings for two men: Quentin, who reminds her of the past and Caleb, who, while exotic and intoxicating, is not quite human.
Quentin is the boy you can be friends with and fall in love with. He is cute and has been able to retain a sense of humor even with all the chaos and death that surrounds the group. Caleb, on the other hand is his polar opposite. Caleb is brooding and dark, but with a good soul deep down. Jenna has to decide on if Caleb is worth the effort or not.
What are you working on now? Can you tell us your latest news?
Apocalipstick was my first book, but book two in the series is coming together. Jenna and Caleb undergo a challenging quest. They leave the safety of the inn and their travels resemble the traditional journey of the mythological heroes brought to light by Joseph Campbell. There are also many unexpected twists for the characters and someone rises from the dead, but not as a zombie. I was working on my first book and already planning the next book in my head, thinking about the changes and developments that would happen to Jenna and Caleb, the main characters.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Thanks to all my readers for their support and opinions. I love having a chance to meet and talk with people about Apocalipstick and books in general. I appreciate any and all comments. Without readers and writers, the world would be a boring place.
About the Author:
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and adjunct faculty at the University of Phoenix. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and two horses. When not writing, she mountain bikes, hikes, and tries to pursue some type of further education–she’s working towards an EdD.
There are three things captured on film that frighten yours truly; Samara from The Ring, Pennywise the clown from It, and the kid from Pet Sematary. (Notice how two of those are from Stephen King? He’s terrifying.) So know this, ZSC faithful, your commanders will suffer unspeakable horrors to bring you information about the pending Zombiepocalypse.
Today we’re looking at the film Pet Sematary to learn more about how zombies are created, controlled, and dispatched. Genre purists are probably rolling their eyes as they read, but even we admit that it is a zombie movie. The dead come back to life and exhibit all of the signs we watch for in order to identify the first wave of zombie attacks.
A note before continuing, we’ve noticed a lot of the “predictions” put on film about the Zombiepocalypse have wonderful rural settings. Sure, in this film there’s a major flaw with truck traffic, but for the most part it is an ideal place to raise a family. Cute, serene, quiet… and totally without secure buildings to hide in when the dead rise. The ZSC would like to issue a warning to members living in rural areas; please be sure to have your escape routes planned and planned well.
In the film there are a couple false starts to the pending zombie problem. A jogger is brought in, brains leaking everywhere, and yet is still able to talk after dying. Put your weapons down, he is the resident ghost, not a walker. But don’t get too comfortable; the ghost knows way too much about whatever it is that creates the zombies.
The kindly old man, Judd, also knows about the potential for zombies. “Do you know what a graveyard is? … A place where the dead speak.” Only, in their neck of the woods the dead tend to forget they’re actually dead. One saving grace; the trek to the stretch of land that spits out zombies like a baseball player spits sunflower seeds is extremely dangerous. The downside; most of the locals know about the burial ground and the strange power it possesses. If an epidemic hit the area, how many would risk the danger to bring back their family?
That’s the truly dangerous part of the cursed Indian burial ground. It isn’t so much the power within the ground, but the potential for mass armies of the undead to be created by people who think they are doing the right thing. When dealing with grief, one simply does not stop to think of the repercussions. It certainly didn’t stop Louis after the family cat came back acting not quite right. The thing was half mad and smelled like a corpse. Zombie Cat, dude.
The land encompassing the Indian burial ground is said to have “gone sour”. Some religions believe that in order for the dead to rest peacefully the ground has to be blessed. Consecrated graveyards are not immune from zombies, but they aren’t pitching them out like this place. Other forces are at play, possibly connected to the beliefs of the dead originally buried in that place. We never learn exactly why the dead simply get up and walk after being buried there, though.
Pet Sematary reminds us, yet again, that zombies are not the people they were when they died. These are not our friends, children, significant others, or pets. They are abominations. Walking corpses with one thing in mind, to destroy the living. We do not know why they come back this way. In the movie, it could be some sort of magic gone wrong. These undead are highly intelligent and utilize weapons like a living person. Luckily they can be easily dispatched, but that may not be enough to save the living if the magic in the burial ground is abused and an army is raised. We need to be prepared on the off chance places like this exist, guys. Check your go bags.
Outtakes (R.C. took notes while watching the film. Here are some highlights):
– Ooo, a kitty! Sorry, where was I?
– Dude, it took you 6 hours to dig a hole. Not Worth It.
– “Church smells bad.” Duh? Zombies stink!
– I love my crew. I love my crew… they must not hear me scream because of a zombie child.