Want to know what horrible secret fear I hide deep in the darkest recesses of my horror-blackened soul? I’m terrified of anyone touching the area of my leg near my Achilles tendon. Even the thought sends shivers through me and makes my tendons ache with some sort of strange phantom pain…like right now. Just typing this makes me want to wrap my hands around my Achilles heels and rock back and forth while I keen pitifully to myself.
Where does this big heap of personal crazy come from? The 1989 movie Pet Sematary. No kidding. There’s a scene in that movie that depicts a highly traumatic moment involving an Achilles tendon and little Gage Creed and his scalpel, seen in this lovely photo. I’m not saying any more than that because I’m sure you can piece that much together…and I simply can’t talk about it anymore. I’ve got this horrible ache throbbing straight up my legs right now. Not even my trusty Docs are protecting me from this panic.
Have I been toting this around with me for 20 years? I’m afraid so. Yes, the fear has dulled since I first saw this movie. It used to be that I couldn’t even get too close to a bed without jumping up onto the mattress as quickly as I could. You know, to keep away from errant scalpels being wielded by a little dead/undead boy under the bed. Rational? Oh, hell to the no. No more rational than the unshakable anxiety I felt every time I opened a closet door for several weeks after seeing the remake of The Ring. That flash image of the girl in the closet just refused to stay out of my mind whenever that happened. Stupid overactive imagination…
Gage Creed creeped me out for several other reasons, least of which was his Snoopy-like laugh, his “pimpin’ ain’t easy” costume he was in when he appeared to his mom post-resurrection, and that effing phone call he made to his dad after he finished “playing” with his mom and Jud. That child most assuredly wasn’t right. Miko Hughes, the actor who played Gage, also gets additional “creepy horror movie kid” credits for playing Heather Langenkamp’s son in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
Pet Sematary is one of those King book-to-movie conversions that I would consider to be a success for the most part. It’s pretty close to the original book, and while it’s quite dated by today’s standards, it’s a nice enough balance of schlocky 80s cheese-horror and good, solid fear. Gage’s moments rank high among the “solid fear” sections, as do the creepy appearances of the jacked-up sister. EEK. Shiver.
It’s also a movie that walks well the fine line between truly horrible reality-anchored events and over-the-top King-style terror (I think that’s one of King’s greatest strengths anyway…how well he can plant some of his worst tales right smack in the center of believable and benign settings and events). As much as I hate the scalpel to the Achilles tendon moment, I have to admit that I have quite the warm, fuzzy spot in my heart for this movie. It’s got some great quotable moments, most from Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall, some good scares, a bit of a moral lesson if you look for it and, for solid geek street cred, a post-Tasha Yar Denise Crosby sporting an oozing eyeball effect toward the end. AND, its theme song was sung by the Ramones! Bonus!
Of course, Hollywood is remaking this movie, slated for a 2010 release. Yippy. Another movie I’m not going to bother seeing. But I’m all for people watching the original…it’s either going to give you a few good scares, or it’s going to make you laugh a whole hell of a lot. Who doesn’t want to watch a movie like that? And to tempt you along, here’s the Ramones video for their song, “Pet Sematary.” Enjoy!