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brianmartin

Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Pet Semetary (1989), directed by Mary Lambert

Sheena's a punk rocker and Stephen King is a novelist. King wrote the screenplay for this film, and promptly forgot what made him a bestselling author in the first place: characterization. He does that. His script for The Shining (the mini-series that was supposed to be a more faithful adaptation of the novel than Stanley Kubrick's version, but wasn't) is another example. It's as if, before he writes a screenplay, he pastes a card to his monitor reminding him of that old screenwriting maxim, Show, don't tell. And that means action, doesn't it? Doesn't it? This is one of those movies where as soon as anyone starts telling a story, you know you're in for a flashback. Cause that's where (or when) the action is, right?

This is one blunt movie. One show-y scene after another. In the book, we understood how much Louis loved his son and why he might think the unthinkable after Gage gets plowed over by a semi. Here, he's just a dad, and all we have to fall back on is that dads love their children. We just have to accept that they love them enough to bring them back to life as hell-beasts.

This is the way of the whole movie. It's a movie in which even the ghosts have no motivation. (Okay, there's only one ghost, but I can't figure him out. When he wants to talk to Louis, he talks to Louis. When he wants to talk to Louis' daughter, he haunts her dreams. And, still less directly, when he wants to talk to Louis' wife, he kind of nudges her with telepathy. I'd say he was operating under some spirit code of conduct, but later he says he "must" leave, only to return once more, so that won't fly.)

The story is simple enough: Louis and his family move into a new house located not far from a cute little pet cemetery in the woods. Beyond the cemetery, however, is an Indian burial ground. Whoever gets buried there (pets included) comes back to life. They just aren't quite the same when they return. But Louis thinks he can beat the system.

In a movie about people, this all could have worked.