10 Weird Facts about Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, the 1989 Movie

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Following hot on the heels of the success of the 2017 remake of Stephen King’s It, it has now been confirmed that there is going to be a new film version of Pet Sematary as well. 

The original movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Pet Sematary was released in 1989, but the film received mixed reviews from critics. 



Several directors had expressed an interest in the remake of Pet Sematary, including Andy Muschietti, the director of the It remake, but it has now been announced that Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch have been chosen to bring the story back to the cinemas.

So, before the world goes crazy for another big blockbuster of a Stephen King adaptation, here’s a look back at the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and ten facts that you may not have known about the book and the film.

First published in 1983, Pet Sematary is a harrowing story about the Creed family who move into a new home that is right by the side of a main road on which trucks thunder past on a daily basis. So many pets get killed on the road that the local kids have a pet cemetery to bury the animals in. 

When the family pet cat, Church, is killed on the road, the father, Louis Creed, can’t face telling his children what has happened, but his friend Jud steps in to help by taking Louis to another cemetery that is behind the Pet Cemetery, where things that are buried come back to life. 

Church does come back to life, but the cat is far from the friendly pet that it once was. When the Creed’s young son Gage also gets killed on the road by a truck, Louis is driven by grief to bury his son in the hidden cemetery too, with some horrifying results.
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Pet Sematary Was Inspired by Some Real Events

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The ideas for Stephen King’s Pet Sematary began to take shape when the author was living in a house in Orrington, Maine, which was on a major truck route. There was a pet cemetery in the town and Stephen King was forced to breach the topic of death with his young daughter when her pet cat was run down by a truck. He buried the cat in the pet cemetery and a few days later King began to wonder what would happen of the cat came back to life. He also had an experience when his young son Owen ran onto the road, but King pulled the boy back just in time. The events gelled in his and Stephen King had the basis for a new novel.

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Stephen King Wrote the Screenplay and Appeared in the Film

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Pet Sematary was the first film adaptation of his own work that Stephen King wrote the screenplay for. The film was shot just twenty minutes away from where Stephen King lived and the author was on location for much of the shooting of the movie. Stephen King also made a cameo appearance in Pet Sematary. He played the part of the minister at the funeral of Gage Creed.

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George a Romero Was Going to Direct the Film

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The film rights of Pet Sematary had originally been sold to George A Romero, who had worked with Stephen King on the making of 1982 Creepshow, but when filming was delayed, Romero was already committed to making Monkey Shines, so he had to pull out. The 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary was directed by Mary Lambert.

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Stephen King Thought That Pet Sematary Was Too Dark to Publish

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When Stephen King wrote Pet Sematary, he thought the he had gone too far with the subject matter and that the book was too dark for publication. His friend, author Peter Straub, and Stephen King’s wife Tabitha, both agreed with King at first, so the book wasn’t published until three years after King had written it. King finally did publish the novel on the advice of his wife, when he needed a final book to complete his contract with book publisher Doubleday. King has said in the past that Pet Sematary is the only book that he has written that frightened him.

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The Role of Zelda Was Played by a Man

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The part of Zelda, who was Rachel Creed’s sister who died of spinal meningitis and appears to Racheal in horrifying flashbacks, was played by the actor Andrew Hubatsek. A man was chosen for the part because Mary Lambert didn’t think that a 13 year old girl could be made to look frightening enough. 

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Cujo Gets a Mention in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary

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The rabid St Bernard dog that traps Donna Trenton and her four year old son in the family Ford Pinto in Cujo gets a brief mention on the Pet Sematary narrative. Jud talks about a dog that went mad and killed several people in a nearby town, which is a definite reference to the events that occurred in Stephen King’s 1981 novel Cujo.

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The Gore Was Hidden from the 2 Year Old Who Played Gage Creed

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The young actor who played Gage Creed, Miko Hughes, was only two years old at the time of filming Pet Sematary, so the horrific and gory parts of the film had to be filmed separately so that the young actor wouldn’t be traumatised by what he saw. In some scenes, this was simply done with camera angels and switches of viewpoint, but in some gory close-up scenes a puppet likeness of Miko Hughes was used. The actor has since gone on to appear in numerous TV shows and Films, including Kindergarten Cop, Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Apollo 13.

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Herman Munster Was in Pet Sematary

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The actor who played Jud Crandall in the 1989 film version of Pet Sematary was Fred Gwynne, who played Herman Munster in the 1960s Munsters TV show. Although Fred Gwyn will probably always be remembered as Herman Munster, he was incredibly talented. As well as acting in numerous films, he was an accomplished painter and children’s book illustrator, and he was a singer too.

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Brad Greenquist Had to Eat Lunch Alone When He Was in Makeup

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Perhaps not altogether surprisingly, when the actor Brad Greenuist, who played the dead jogger Victor Pascow who comes to warn Louis Creed not to go into the pet cemetery, was wearing his gory makeup, none of the other actors or crew would sit next to him for lunch.

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Seven Different Cats Played the Part of Church

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Since cats aren’t the easiest of animals to train, seven different cats were used to play the part of Church, the cat who was brought back to life in the Pet Sematary movie, and each cat had its own speciality. For example, there was a hissing Church, a spitting Church, and a jumping Church.

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