Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Film Review: PET SEMATARY TWO (1992, Mary Lambert)

Stars: 2.5 of 5.
Running Time: 100  minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:   Anthony Edwards (MIRACLE MILE, ER, ZODIAC), Edward Furlong (TERMINATOR 2, AMERICAN HISTORY X), Clancy Brown (HIGHLANDER, EXTREME PREJUDICE), Jared Rushton (BIG, OVERBOARD), Darlanne Fluegel (TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., BULLETPROOF, RUNNING SCARED), Jason McGuire (LEAP OF FAITH, FORREST GUMP).  Written by Richard Outten (LITTLE NEMO: THE 80S MOVIE) and vaguely, but not really based on elements from PET SEMATARY, by Stephen King.
Tag-line: "Raise some hell."
Best one-liner:  "No brain, no pain... think about it."

PET SEMATARY TWO boldly asks the question, "Can a movie be worse than PET SEMATARY ONE?"  The answer is "Yes... well, kind of."

Aside from the presence of bullies and the general idea of a supernatural cemetery whereupon pets and and occasionally humans can be buried only to rise from the dead and become (at best) soulless versions of their former selves, or (at worst) evil killer zombies, this really has nothing to do with anything Stephen King ever wrote.  As such, it sort of feels like PET SEMATARY fan-fiction. Still, it is important to note that PET SEMATARY TWO is not abjectly terrible.  In fact, there are quite a few things to like here.  Seven, in fact:

#1.  Sullen Anthony Edwards.

Pre-ER Anthony Edwards plays a medical professional (a veterinarian) who has lost his wife and is trying to raise moody, early 90s Edward Furlong.

Pictured: moody, early 90s Edward Furlong.

Interestingly enough, Edwards' deceased wife is played by Darlanne Fluegel, an actress who got a tremendous amount of niche work as "practically the only woman" in movies that are otherwise jam-packed with male character actors, and this is no exception.  (Also see:  TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., BULLETPROOF, LOCK UP, RUNNING SCARED.) Weird.

Anyway, Edwards is pretty great– so great, that you'll really regret that he didn't play "Louis Creed" in PET SEMATARY 1, since Dale Midkiff didn't really have the chops to pull it off.  Maybe the tremendous pathos of Anthony Edwards could have "saved" PET SEMATARY 1– I guess we'll never know.

#2.  The awkwardly exclaimed line, "Thanks for screwing up our Halloween, dumb shit!"

which is laughably uttered by a small town bully– thus making it officially the most "Stephen King-ian" thing in the movie.

#3.  Clancy Brown.  Longtime readers of this site know of my ongoing appreciation of his work, which ranges from evil sons of bitches (HIGHLANDER) to badass good guys (STARSHIP TROOPERS, EXTREME PREJUDICE, THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI).

 Here, he gets to play the Kurgan (from HIGHLANDER) again, essentially– he starts off as an abusive dad/uptight town sheriff, and after being killed and resurrected, turns into a spectacularly psychotic, scenery (and lima beans) chewing maniac.

There's a great scene where his overweight son apologizes for not being the "stud" Clancy is.

And there's an even better scene when an undead Clancy smashes unidentifiable dinner goop and lima beans into his mouth and laughs maniacally for at least twenty seconds.

No, PET SEMATARY TWO is not a good movie, but the beauty of Clancy Brown's deranged performance occasionally fools you into thinking it is.

#4.  These creepy twin girls who reveal, for a fleeting moment, what it would look like if THE SHINING were directed by, say, the makers of FULL HOUSE.


How would you like your potato, sir?  Baked?  Roasted?  Mashed?  Stuffed?  Scalloped?  HOW 'BOUT RAINING DOWN ON YOU IN A MURDEROUS, SKULL-SQUASHIN' DELUGE?!

Honestly, in the annals of film history, I don't think there's ever been a "death by potatoes" scene quite like this one.  Nice job, PET SEMATARY TWO!

#6.  The magnificence of the following scene, whereupon an undead Clancy Brown attempts to murder Anthony Edwards with crazy-eye and an electric drill, loopily hypothesizing, "No brain, no pain...  think about it!"

#7.  While The Ramones unfortunately don't give us "I Don't Wanna Be Buried in a Pet Sematary (Again)," they do indeed again provide the rockin' beats of the closing credits with the song, "Poison Heart."

In closing, PET SEMATARY TWO ain't great– and you didn't need me to tell ya that, I'm sure.  Still, a couple of spit-take worthy moments and some killer potatoes push this up to... two and a half stars.

–Sean Gill


Anonymous said...

Hah! Another good write-up and a small trip down memory lane for me. Reading this review, I'm starting to think that I can use Pet Sematary One and Two as demarcation points in my own ability to judge the quality of movies. That is, Pet Sematary One, which I don't dispute is likely pretty crappy if we're being truthful, was a film I saw when I was still young enough (we're talkin' junior high years, and with a hefty collection of old King paperbacks to boot) to think that EVERY movie was awesome. So, to this day, I can't see the faults in part one no matter how hard I try. It's still just a big bunch of good times and "Ayuh, it's about time to go grab some beers on the front porch with Judd Crandall!" Now, by the time of Pet Sematary Two, I believe I had reached the age of reason, because it's pretty much the first time I remember coming out of the theater saying, "Gee, I'm not so sure that that was all that great." Kinda depressing when you lose that ability to will yourself into liking everything, even if is out of sheer boredom or ignorance, but I digress. It does sound like it'd be fun to revisit this just for the Clancy Brown factor, though. And at least Furlong came back for one more transcendent picture; I speak not of Terminator 2, but rather the magnificent triumph of Brainscan! The failure of the film industry to develop a proper franchise out of the Trickster character is one of the true low points in recent history! Anyways, thanks for this one, and carry on!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, number 4 is the funniest thing I've seen in a week! Thanks

Sean Gill said...

Thanks, bud! And an interesting point about that "age of reason" -I think we've all had similar experiences.
I saw PET SEMATARY later in life, and while I do like the book quite a bit (and I'm always up for a beer over on Judd's porch), the fairly terrible acting (outside of Gwynne) and general incompetence trump the decent atmosphere for me. And oh yes– God love the Trickster! I did a lengthy review here singing his praises some years back.

Very glad you enjoyed!

Buck Atwater said...

I love Clancy Brown in this.

"I'm just fuckin' with ya!"

*Mashes kids head in dirtbike wheel*


Sean Gill said...


Oh yeah– Clancy nearly singlehandedly keeps this from being a total stinker. I still take solace in believing that after his character's "death" he becomes possessed by The Kurgan, whose spirit has been wandering around since the end of HIGHLANDER.