5 FILMS TO WATCH BEFORE 'PET SEMATARY'

SOMETIMES DEAD IS BETTER...

FEATURE ARTICLE
By Jake Watt
24th March 2019

Most people have probably heard the tale of 'The Monkey’s Paw' in one form or another. The 1902 short story by W. W. Jacobs revolves around a mysterious monkey’s paw with the ability to grant three wishes. But with each granted wish comes an unforeseen - and often deadly - price. After their first wish causes the death of their son, a grieving husband and wife wish for his return. Soon after, they hear a knock at the front door. Fearful of how his reanimated son will look, the husband ultimately uses the final wish to send him back to the grave. It's a classic tale of “be careful what you wish for.”

Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s upcoming horror film ‘Pet Sematary’, adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name, is the latest movie to examine murderous offspring and the returning dead. Here are five other films you should watch beforehand...

5) Hellions (2015)
Director: Bruce McDonald

Dora (Chloe Rose) is an average teenager who is stunned when her doctor, Henry (Rossif Sutherland), tells her that she is four weeks pregnant, something she says should not be possible. Distraught, Dora goes home to wait for boyfriend to pick her up for a Halloween party. Not only does a blood moon suddenly appear in the sky, but Dora is visited by several children in strange costumes who want her unborn child (who is growing at an unnatural rate). Not the greatest horror film from director Bruce McDonald of 'Pontypool' fame ('Hellions' has a queasy pro-life message), but it does have a few amazingly eerie sequences of deranged kids, clad in weird animal masks, stalking through pumpkin patches.

4) Them (2006)
Director: David Moreau, Xavier Palud

A French-Romanian horror film which follows Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), a young teacher who has recently moved from France to a remote but idyllic country house near Bucharest, Romania with her lover Lucas. Soon they begin hearing menacing music in the woods and hearing noises in the house. But who are the mysterious, barely-seen antagonists that are menacing the couple? A creepy, unsettling film with a “this could really happen” vibe.

3) Deathdream (1974)
Director: Bob Clark

The film takes the basic premise of a dead son returning home, but adds social commentary on the Vietnam War. The film opens with Andy (Richard Backus), a 21-year-old soldier, being shot and killed while on active duty. Back in the U.S., his parents (John Marley and Lynn Carlin) and sister, Cathy (Anya Ormsby), receive the news of his passing. Distraught and in denial, the mother wishes and prays for her son’s return. And in the dead of night, Andy inexplicably comes home - though he is not like himself. ‘Deathdream’ was inspired by 'The Monkey's Paw' (the same basic source for ‘Pet Sematary’), and doubles as a zombie flick and a drama, exposing the psychological consequences of war. Upon returning home, Andy is surrounded by people who are not only unaware he is a zombie, but also ignorant to the extent of his trauma. Despite being made in 1972, the themes of ‘Deathdream’ still resonate today. Not only is it a chilling and atmospheric horror film, but it is also a sad and effective commentary on the psychological toll of war and its impact on the family unit.

2) Starry Eyes (2014)
Director: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer

Sarah Walker is an aspiring actress who is stuck waitressing at a fast food restaurant. Her friends are generally unsupportive and selfish; Erin is constantly trying to steal Sarah's roles, while her roommate Tracy and aspiring director Danny are apathetic to Sarah's situation. Sarah's prospects at stardom look dim until she takes an audition for a film called 'The Silver Scream', held by the powerful production company Astraeus Pictures. Things go bad. With disturbing sexual elements and the gradual deterioration of the heroine - both physically and mentally - it asks the viewer to consider how far one would go to chase their dreams. Effortlessly mixing David Cronenberg’s ‘The Fly’ with Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’, it is easy to see why Kölsch and Widmyer were tapped to direct the new ‘Pet Sematary’.

1) Pet Sematary (1989)
Director: Mary Lambert

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release, the first adaptation of King’s novel features a great score by Elliot Goldenthal, impressive special effects and Stephen King’s best acting role to date. Unfortunately, and in all honestly... it also has a lot of bad acting, writing (from a screenplay by King himself) and editing. Still, there is a reason it is so fondly remembered – the scenes featuring Zelda and an exceedingly painful Achilles tendon injury are terrifying.

The new ‘Pet Sematary’ is out in Australian on the 4th April 2019 from Paramount Films.

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