For the past 40 years, King’s works (short stories and novels) have been turned into feature films, television movies and miniseries. Unlike his many novels, films based on Stephen King’s work have not always hit their mark with the public. There have been a few exceptions and a couple of them are in this five film collection. What you are guaranteed to get with a film based on a King novel is horror and weirdness and the films here are no exception.
Pet Sematary – 2019 directed by Kevin Kolsch:
Based on the novel by Stephen King, the update of this horror film was directed by Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes, Absence) and Dennis Widmyer (Holidays). It is another example of it is better leaving things alone. While the first was not a great example of horror this one doesn’t even live up to that standard.
Wanting to slow down and spend more time with their children, the Creeds, Louis (Jason Clarke – Zero Dark Thirty, Mudbound) and Rachel (Amy Seimetz – from television’s Stranger Things), move from Boston to rural Maine. While their son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) is very young so the adjustment is quick, their daughter Ellie (Jet Laurence – The Snowman) is not so thrilled with the change. She finds solace in her beloved pet cat and an older next door neighbour.
Widower Jud (John Lithgow – The World According to Garp, Pitch Perfect 3) finds the young girl lost in the dense woods on the Creeds property. Rescuing her, he wins her over when he shows her the pet cemetery which is there. Rachel is originally suspicious of Jud, but soon she and Louis are won over. Rachel is a naturally distrustful and nervous woman as a tragedy happened in her childhood involving her older sister.
The Creeds begin to settle into the routine and pace of their new surroundings. Then a couple of tragedies strike altering their idyllic new home. First, Ellie’s cat is hit by a truck and killed. Louis and Jud bury it in the Pet Sematary. When it returns and is not quite the loving pet it used to be Louis is concerned. Then at a birthday party for Ellie something even more tragic occurs.
Afterwards, Rachel and Ellie return to Boston. Louis stays behind. He needs more time to grieve. With his heart broken the lure of the powers of Pet Sematary draw Louis in. What follows proves that once dead all living things should remain so.
Rarely are Stephen King novels, which generally manage to be creepy/scary, given their rightful due when it comes to adapting them to the screen. Pet Sematary is a perfect example of that. A fun read with plenty of creepy things coming back to life and being rather evil moments. Somehow no one has managed to translate those fun scares into a decent film.
Here the tension is built ably and John Lithgow is perfect as the widowed neighbour, but there is where the positives end. You can manage to be entertained by the film, but it is not a quality watch.
This is horror. The goal of the genre is to scare or creep out viewers. There are precious few scares here. Too bad. The concept is cool, but the execution is lacking. Maybe sensing the inability to fulfill their mandate, the directors begin to wobble out of control during the last third of the film with it just spiralling into ridiculousness. Not something fans of the genre will be shouting from the tops of mountains about.
Pet Sematary directed by Mary Lambert:
Of the many films that have been made based on Stephen King novels, this is one of the few he adapted for the big screen himself. The story centers on a couple who move to the peaceful countryside of Maine to provide their two young children with a safe upbringing. Quickly, Louis (Dale Midkiff – Love Potion No.9) and Rachel (Denise Crosby – Star Trek: the Next Generation) settle into their beautiful new home. When their daughter’s cat escapes, their new neighbour Jud (Fred Gwynne – My Cousin Vinny) returns him safe and sound but with a heavy warning; the trucks that speed along the main road have claimed the life of many a beloved pet.
As the family settles in, they discover a pet cemetery nearby. Jud explains its history to the family, choosing to omit certain ominous details. When tragedy strikes the Creed family, details of the true nature of the pet cemetery emerge and change their lives forever.
A classic in the Stephen King film library. We can credit this film with bringing us the Ramones single “Pet Sematary” and possibly causing the misspelling of the word “cemetery” for years afterwards. This film is still more likely to scare ten year olds than the intended 18+ audience, but it seems to be firmly planted in the nostalgia of a generation of moviegoers.
The Dead Zone directed by David Cronenberg:
After waking up from a coma due to a car accident, Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) realizes he has been unconscious for years. Though the years are gone what has appeared is a psychic ability. He seems to be able to tell about the person’s future just by touching them. All rather unsettling for him to adjust to. Johnny’s newfound ability does not make up for the fact that his girlfriend (Brooke Adams) has gone on with her life. Things really begin to change when he shakes hands with a politician named Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen – from television’s The West Wing) and sees his troubling future. After giving it a think, Johnny believes the only option is to kill Stillson.
Silver Bullet directed by Daniel Attias:
Tarker’s Mill is usually a very quiet town. Not of late. A string of strange murders have happened. The people who live there decide to take things into their own hands. In turnabout, many of those seeking justice or revenge turn up dead themselves. One night a young boy in a wheelchair named Marty (Corey Helm) sees a werewolf and things begin to become clearer. Now Marty, his sister and Uncle Red (Gary Busey) decide to band together to find the werewolf again.
A television movie about a plague which has killed off most of the planet’s population. Those who remain have divided themselves into two groups. One epitomizing good and the other evil. It is going to culminate in a battle between good and evil.
- Pet Sematary (1989)
- Audio Commentary – featuring director Mary Lambert
- Fear and
- Pet Sematary: Revisitation
- Stephen King Territory
- The Characters
- Filming the Horror
- The Stand
- Audio Commentary – featuring director Mick Garris throughout all four episodes of the mini-series.
- Pet Sematary (2019)
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Night Terrors
- The Tale of Timmy Baterman
- Beyond the Deadfall Four-Part Feature