Release Date(s)1992 (February 25, 2020)
Studio(s)Paramount Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C
1989’s Pet Sematary was a minor box office success upon its initial release, failing to impress critics but doing considerable business on home video. Three years later, Mary Lambert, who had directed the first film, returned for a sequel that would reference the previous film’s events, but feature a cast of brand new characters. The result, Pet Sematary Two, wasn’t nearly as successful as its predecessor, but was slightly more accepted critically.
Jeff (Edward Furlong) and his father Chase (Anthony Edwards) have arrived in the town of Ludlow, Maine after Jeff’s mother dies in a tragic accident. There they draw the attention of the abusive town sheriff Gus (Clancy Brown), his stepson Drew (Jason McGuire), and a relentless bully named Clyde (Jared Rushton). Traumatized after watching his mother die, Jeff becomes aware of the local legend of the Creed family and the Indian burial ground above a pet cemetery nearby that is said to bring the dead back to life if buried there. Befriending Drew after his dog dies and dealing with torment from both Clyde and Gus, the two decide to scope out this burial ground for themselves, but with disastrous and deadly results.
Pet Sematary Two is a different beast than its precursor, though weaving the same underlying message, which is “Sometimes dead is better.” It’s a nasty piece of work, particularly when it comes to the treatment of animals (though none were actually harmed during the making of the film—not the live ones anyway). Because it focuses less on a single idea or set of characters, it feels unfocused, even sleazy at times—trying to be both frightening and funny, but never really succeeding. Clancy Brown is the most memorable aspect of the film because of how far he is allowed to go with his dead-abusive-stepfather-returned-from-the-grave business. Sporadic moments involving some impressive and gory make-up effects (courtesy of the great Steve Johnson) also give the film a bit more credence for horror fans, not to mention the hard-rocking soundtrack featuring the likes of L7, The Ramones, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
In the years since its release, Pet Sematary Two has developed its own following, with many believing it to be equal if not better than the original. Respect must given to Mary Lambert who not only wanted to make a sequel, but make it a different kind of experience altogether. Stephen King may not have been happy with its creation, but this is a horror film with real sharp teeth, even if it isn’t perfect on all sides.
Scream Factory brings Pet Sematary Two to Blu-ray with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. Though filtering appears to have been applied, meaning that some scenes look more natural than others, grain is still fairly tight when its more prevalent. The film is also colorful, but doesn’t pop too frequently. Chase’s confrontation with Gus is where the color palette shines the most as it offers the most variety, with reds and blues in particular giving off the most intensity. Blacks are often deep with good shadow detail while brightness and contrast levels are ideal. Everything appears clean and stable with no visible leftover damage. It’s certainly a major upgrade over its DVD counterpart, but doesn’t reach those full, natural peaks.
The audio is included in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD, with optional subtitles in English SDH. The 5.1 mix offers a nice surround experience, giving the rear speakers plenty to do during moments of intense action, but also opening the score and music selection up a bit. Dialogue exchanges are clean and clear. Sound effects have plenty of punch, but never knock anything out of the park. Nothing ever sounds distorted or overwrought. The stereo track is much of the same, just without the extra channels. Both tracks are clean and free of hiss, crackle, and dropouts.
The following extras are also included:
- Audio Commentary with Mary Lambert and Justin Beahm
- Young and Brooding: Edward Furlong on Pet Sematary Two (HD – 13:32)
- Playing Over the Top: Clancy Brown on Pet Sematary Two (HD – 21:00)
- My First Film: Jason McGuire on Pet Sematary Two (HD – 24:23)
- A Thousand Dollar Bet: Steve Johnson on Pet Sematary Two (HD – 15:51)
- Orchestrated Grunge: Mark Governor on Pet Sematary Two (HD – 29:32)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:33)
The audio commentary with Mary Lambert is more of an interview as Justin Beahm asks her questions while she reminisces about the making of the film, what it was like to work with the cast and crew, and other projects that she’s worked on. There are a few gaps of silence and she stumbles a bit here and there (mistakenly referring to Jared Rushton of Big and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids fame as a “local hire”), but the track is adequate overall. In his interview, Edward Furlong talks about how he was cast in Terminator 2, being interested in working on a horror film, working with Mary Lambert, and how he feels about the film today. Clancy Brown speaks on his upbringing, how he got into acting, getting involved with the film, working with the cast and crew, and betting Steve Johnson that Pet Sematary Two would be more successful than Innocent Blood. Jason McGuire talks about growing up in Georgia, getting into acting, being on the set for the first time, working with Edward Furlong and Clancy Brown, shooting the car crash scene, enjoying his time on the film, and having to give up acting to focus on school. Steve Johnson talks about working on various Stephen King projects, starting his own special effects business, working on Freaked and Innocent Blood at the same time, his thousand dollar bet with Clancy Brown, and the variety of special make-up effects in the film. Mark Governor talks about how he got into film music, working with Roger Corman, getting involved with the project, working with Mary Lambert, having to give in to studio demands, and the reception to the film.
Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of Pet Sematary Two is a long overdue addition to the high definition catalogue. It’s a film that’s bound to find more appreciation with new fans, particularly for the effects and the music. Both the transfer and extras are decent, making this a fine release that will sit reasonably well on the shelf next to the original.
– Tim Salmons