Picks and Pans Review: Pet Sematary

updated 05/15/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/1989 01:00AM

Fred Gwynne

Anybody who wants to see anything more vile and scummy than this movie will have to check out a neighborhood septic tank.

It's not that it's so gory or that it's silly or that it's among the worst-acted movies of all time—though that's all true. (Only Gwynne seems like a pro.) What's most offensive is that the movie, adapted by Stephen King from his own novel, uses a little boy as a fiendish killer, as if the horrormeister had come to the bottom of his villain barrel. Beyond mere taste, the film certainly raises questions about the decency of allowing Miko Hughes, 3, to play the boy, who is out to murder his parents.

The film, directed by Mary (Siesta) Lambert, offers little in the way of suspense. Not long after he moves his family to New England from Chicago, Dale Midkiff learns about a nearby Indian burial ground where the dead can be brought back to life—though they generally come back in very bad moods. Since his family's new house is right on a road where trucks zoom by all day long and he has two little kids, it's obvious what's going to happen.

Gwynne, as a neighbor, keeps his dignity. He's had practice at that kind of thing, of course. But compared with this junk, The Ministers was a project of profound wit. (R)

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