Browsing Tag

Pet Sematary

Posted on January 30, 2016

Keepin’ it in the Family: Death in Pet Sematary (1989)


We take for granted how much we learn from our families. Through family, we learn about life, love, strength, absence, guilt, and death. Sociologists frequently categorize the family as a primary socialization group which builds the foundation for future navigation of the world around us. It is widely accepted that within our formative years, from birth to school age, as well as in our later life, we learn from observing this primary social group.[i] Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory suggests that we learn consequence and reward by seeing the results of actions manifest in the lives of those around us. Considering the family as a core teaching mechanism of behavior and cognition helps me understand the film Pet Sematary (1989) in a new way.

In this Short Cut, I want to briefly examine death with a special emphasis on one video clip in Stephen King’s timeless film, Pet Sematary. (WARNING: there are spoilers) The Creed family consists of Louis (Midkiff), Rachel (Crosby), Gage (Hughes), Ellie (Berdahl twins), and Church (played by 7 blue British shorthairs). The first death in the family is that of Churchill the cat. Louis tries to shelter his daughter, Ellie, from the loss by resurrecting him via the pet sematary. One after another, Louis holds on to rotting replicas of the family to dangerous ends, as Gage and Rachel are buried in the same sour ground as Church. Louis Creed’s inability to let go puts the family in escalating danger.

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Posted on July 29, 2015

Zelda in Pet Sematary (1989) Revives Images of Family Repression


Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (1989) revives the Gothic literature trope of the madwoman in the attic. This is not to say that it has not appeared in other facets of popular culture prior to his film but rather that Mr. King’s representation is arguably one of the most memorable. There is discussion of the madwoman character in feminist circles that view her as part of the binary representations of women in Gothic literature (as either putrid or pure). This article sidesteps this dialogue to suggest a more basic argument that horror film families repress difference through this same character. In the case of Pet Semetary, difference and/or imperfection is represented through a proverbial “black sheep” in the family. This member challenges the status of the family and must be locked up like a literal skeleton in the closet.

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