Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary (2017) Movie Script

Pet Sematary fans, there's a lot of them.
A lot of them.
When we were shooting it, it
was a big studio production
but it was low budget,
and then over the years,
it's just become a big
deal for many people.
I can't tell you why.
People just, it really
hits people somehow.
I first saw Pet Sematary in
the theater when it came out.
I was just a big horror fan.
I used to go see everything,
so anything Stephen King that came out,
you always made sure
you went opening night.
So yeah, I went and saw Pet Sematary
and fell in love with it immediately,
"Sometimes dead's better."
Been quotin' that forever.
It was one of those films that you find
with a group of friends, and
you all immediately love it.
We were exposed to a lot of horror,
but for some reason,
that one really stood out
and scared the hell out of us as kids.
It was my first Stephen
King book that I ever read.
Scared me to death.
He doesn't just write a scary
monster in the closet story.
It's always a psychological aspect to it.
People have really connected
to it, and it's surreal.
It's a blessing, it's amazing.
The way it was shot
visually, was done very well.
Mary Lambert had a great
visual, artistic ability.
It made my career as a film director.
It's still my most successful film.
The term in film was to make it work.
If the lighting worked,
if the editing worked,
if the performance worked,
it all worked really well.
You wanna watch out for that road.
My family was like,
they want me to look good.
They didn't get it on this one.
It was such a specific moment in time
that I hardly remember,
and yet it seems to...
have effected a generation
of people so deeply
on this subconscious level,
that it's just amazing to me
that it could be so powerful.
Well, at least something good come of it,
this place.
Couldn't plant nothing but
corpses here anyway, I guess.
I wrote a book called, Pet Sematary.
I got pretty scared toward
the end of that book,
kind of, "Oh boy."
Some of the things, it was very black,
and when I finished the book,
I actually put it in a drawer
because I didn't think anybody
would wanna read anything
like that, but they did.
When I interviewed Steve
on one of the occasions
back in, I think this was the late 80's,
I asked him about his
preparation for Pet Sematary,
and he told me, he gave me the
name of at least three books
that he had researched carefully
in learning about the lore of the wendigo.
It was essentially a Native
American mythological figure
that was especially pronounced
during the winter months.
The reason that I think the
Indians gave birth to this
is because they wanted to create a taboo
against cannibalism during
those rough winter months
where food is scarce.
The wendigo is essentially
this figure who,
once it's led into a community,
it wrecks havoc on the community.
At the time that King
was writing Pet Sematary,
he was also writer in residence
at the University of Maine Orono,
and the course that he
was teaching was a course
in 19th century British horror fiction.
The three texts were Frankenstein,
Jekyll and Hyde, and Dracula.
I think that all three of those books
have always had a pronounced
influence on Steve.
That's one of the reasons why he wanted
to teach this course.
He's always thought those
books are the seminal texts
in horror literature, but they
also had a pronounced effect
on the writing of Pet Sematary.
All three of those texts,
for example, revolve around
the same theme of the
destruction of the family.
All three of those texts revolve
around a monstrous presence
that threatens to overcome
normative behavior,
and all three of those
texts are about secrets,
specifically male secrets,
and keeping those male secrets from women.
That's what causes, very
often, the destruction
that centers all three of those texts.
You know, Jud Crandall's line that
women are supposed to be
good at keeping secrets,
but I think men might be better.
Another British horror story
to influence Stephen King
while he was writing Pet Sematary
was a 1902 short story by W.W. Jacobs
called The Monkey's Paw.
Essentially The Monkey's
Paw is about a talisman
in the form of a dead monkey's paw
that granted the possessor
of it three wishes,
the issue being that all
three of these wishes
came with a huge price.
Essentially the moral of the
story is, don't mess with fate,
and of course those themes are present
in the story of Pet Sematary,
and I think at one point
King was even quoted as saying that
Pet Sematary is essentially a retelling,
in many ways, of The Monkey's Paw story.
Orrington is a real
small town, very rural.
Why they picked that area
to live in, I'm not sure,
other than it was available, I think.
But, Steve had rented
the house in Orrington
while he was teaching at the university,
and behind the next door neighbor's house
was an actual pet cemetery
the kids in the neighborhood used.
The way his mind works, he
can see something like that
and get the beginnings of a
story, and he obviously did.
They rented the house
right next door to us,
and it had always been
a really creepy house
because nobody had lived there.
It was owned by, we called
it the Pierce house.
It was owned by the Pierce family,
and it was always vacant
for many, many, many years,
and it was just a spooky old house,
like a lot of those old
colonials are in Orrington.
I certainly knew who Stephen
King was when he moved to town.
I had read some of his
books at that point.
I met him down at the corner store,
and he rented an office
at the corner store
to actually write in
for a number of years,
so you would see him all the time,
and he would go out for walks
and kinda cross our lawn.
You'd be sittin' there
watchin' TV and look up,
and hey, there's Stephen King.
We started the Pet Sematary
in the early to mid 70's
out of necessity, basically,
because growing up
on Route 15 in Orrington,
it's a major truck route.
There's an oil depot at the end.
There's a pulp mill
there, so there's trucks
back and forth all the time.
You lost a lotta pets.
There's only so many you
can bury in your side yard so,
we just started puttin' up in the field
and making our little markers for them.
It was a place you could go
visit your dead cat or dog,
or the occasional goldfish
that was intentionally
taken out of the tank
so it could be buried.
The spelling of Pet Sematary,
a neighbor up the road,
Johnny, who was really into spray painting
anything and everything,
we decided our cemetery
had to have a sign, because
there was a growing population.
We gave Johnny the task
of making the sign,
and he showed up with it,
spelled the way it's spelled,
and we had a really good laugh.
We should've known
better than to stick him
with spelling anything.
One of the reasons why
the story of Pet Sematary
is so effective, is
because at least part of it
deals with real life people and events
in Stephen King's life.
Ellie Creed's cat, Church, for example,
and his untimely demise
was based on King's
daughter's cat, Smucky.
Back in 1978, Smucky became
one of the many victims
of Route 15 when he was
unfortunately struck
by a passing vehicle.
Of course, King knew it would
break his daughter's heart
when she found out about it,
so he had considered not telling her,
and it was actually his wife, Tabitha,
that said they had to tell her because,
as she said, she has to
learn about death sometime.
The next day they buried
Smucky in the Pet Sematary,
and it's interesting to note
that when you watch the film,
if you look closely,
you'll see that the crew
actually paid tribute to Smucky
by putting his name on a grave marker.
As far as Gage getting run over,
that was based on one of his
boys running towards the road,
and Steve grabbed him just
at the side of the road
as a truck went by.
I guess he and Tabby were terrified by it,
and eventually it worked
its way into the story.
Stephen told me that in
that period of five seconds,
or 10 seconds, between when
he saw his son in danger
and he saved his son from that danger,
that the entire story of Pet
Sematary flashed into his head.
This is the son that I
took care of as a newborn,
and made this fictional character,
I knew this fictional character.
This was real flesh and
blood, which made it even more
I think emotional, as far
as dealing with child death.
I said to him, "This is a horrible story.
"It's very emotionally charged,
"and I don't think you
should have this published."
He laughed.
When Steve originally wrote
the book and turned it in,
the buying committee didn't like it,
because it dealt with
the death of a child,
and it was a taboo subject back then.
I think Steve and Tabby were in agreement
because it was such a dark story,
that they didn't think
it was what it should be.
So, it wasn't a big deal
that they didn't accept it.
But it set for a few years,
and Steve had left Doubleday
and gone to Viking,
and Doubleday owed him some royalty money.
The way they got it in one lump sum
was, give us another book,
and they decided to give
'em Pet Sematary again,
'cause they promoted it heavily.
If you look on the back of
the dust jacket it says,
is it possible for Stephen
King to terrify himself,
and, this book did it.
When I learned that he had written a book
based on my Pet Sematary, it
was really quite mind boggling
to think that something
I did, in some small way,
inspired such a great
writer to write a book.
I had to have the book
the moment it came out.
When the book came out,
there was a tremendous
demand for it.
It became a huge best seller,
because of that tagline, I think.
People wanna know what would scare Steve,
and so they bought the
book in massive numbers.
It's a fantastic story.
The era of the 80's is
really, as everyone knows,
the era of the slasher film.
It began in the very
late 70's with Halloween,
and by the time 1980 rolled around,
it was Friday the 13th, and
then a number of minor horrors
like Night School and Graduation Day.
They were usually
associated with a holiday.
By the time the mid 80's came around,
there was really, in my opinion,
the horror film was drifting,
and we were actually seeing
more science fiction stuff,
like Terminator was big, and Aliens.
There was nothing that was strictly horror
until Pet Sematary came along.
Unlike these other films,
where they were slashers,
all the people who died in this film
you cared about to a certain extent.
It's definitely more of
a story of love and loss.
It's one thing to have the scares.
It's another thing to
effect people emotionally.
I just had to put my dog
to sleep a couple weeks ago,
and it just broke my heart,
and the whole Pet Sematary
thing went through my mind,
like, what if, you know?
What if?
Would I, if I could, bring her back?
The fact that there was a very strong
human emotional base to it all,
is what made it what it
is, a very good story,
an excellent film, I think.
Stephen King really wanted
the film to be made in Maine
because there had been a clamor
about him living in Maine
but his films being shot in Los Angeles.
So, that was one of many
reasons that Pet Sematary
was very difficult to get made.
One was, King insisted
that it be his screenplay,
and his other stipulation
was that it be shot in Maine.
What I understood at the time was,
he was doing this as an answer
to his neighbors in Maine
who said, "Why don't you shoot here
"and bring all that money here?"
A movie brings in lots and lots of money.
That's the bottom line.
But it's expensive for 'em to do it.
They can go to Washington state
and make it look like Maine,
or places in California, or Canada.
When the dollar was cheaper,
Canada was an easy place,
but Maine's expensive to get to.
These were difficulties,
I think, in making the film
financially, and I think
it took a long, long time
for all of the pieces to come into place.
Steve's proud of Maine.
He's proud of the fact
that he's a native here.
He has become such a member
of the Bangor community,
that everybody thinks of
him as a great neighbor,
but Stephen King is an
incredible neighbor too,
because he's donated, and
he's given so much financially
to the Bangor community, to
save public transportation,
to help reconstruct the
library, ball parks,
and I'm sure, numerous other things.
He has this great house in Bangor,
I'm assuming he still
lives there and has this
big wrought iron fence
in front of it with bats,
and kids love to trick-or-treat
there because of it.
Stephen and Tabitha are real people,
and people always look at icons,
like Stephen is of the horror world,
as somebody that's untouchable.
To this day, he gets his own groceries
when he's in town in Bangor.
Very, very approachable.
There's the monetary
aspect of what he's brought
into the state by doing Pet Sematary.
It's a story based in Maine,
why not shoot it here?
Let's give Dale the gerry
pack, and have the doll on it.
Rehearsal please,
everybody else, clear frame.
It was thrilling to all
of us, it was exciting,
because everyone wanted
to know if they were gonna
be in the movie, or have
something to do with the film.
I was so excited that this
opportunity presented itself,
because it's not often that
a big filmmaker comes to town
and you get a chance to be an extra.
I mean, this is Maine,
it's not Los Angeles.
The acting community was
happy that it was happening
because the Maine Film Commission,
for a period of time there,
was making a concerted effort
to try to bring more film into Maine,
especially with the fact that Maine
has such diverse geographics.
It's a great place to bring a film.
It was exciting and marvelously shocking.
I didn't think we'd ever
have a big major film
filmed here in Hancock, Maine.
But everybody was talking about it, sure,
one way or the other, whether
negatively or positively,
and up and down the road here.
Then when they actually came and showed up
and it was real, and we all got a chance.
I don't know how many people in town
actually stopped by the set,
but a lot did, at least once.
We had lots of visitors to the set.
You'd think, in this remote location.
I remember one day looking up,
and there was Charlie Sheen.
He was a friend of David Anderson's,
who was the makeup, he applied the makeup,
him and his assistant, John Blake.
Charlie had just come off
of Wall Street, I guess,
so he was quite the thing.
Who else?
Oh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar showed up.
He was friends with Richard Rubinstein,
and he was hanging out on the set.
It was a fun set.
My sets are always fun, though.
She set up a good
environment to be able to work,
which I think is so important.
And she really made a good movie.
And go.
The reason I directed Pet
Sematary was Stephen King,
because he had authority, he
had approval over the director,
and I was on the list because
I was kinda the flavor of the month,
because of all my music
video work at the time.
I was an up and coming
young director in Hollywood.
She comes from painting.
She went to the Rhode
Island School of Design.
She started as a painter,
she's very visual.
She'll bring in a lot
of different elements,
images from paintings, images from poetry,
rock and roll, so it all has room to play.
It was a woman directing a horror film,
and I don't mean horror
genre kind of film,
but she loved it because it
wasn't just only killing people.
It was a small town,
and it was just a family
moving to a lovely new place.
And odd things happened.
I remember my mother telling us
that she had directed Madonna videos,
and how cool that was,
'cause obviously Madonna
was just the biggest thing at the time.
I want you to stop...
I don't know, at that red box.
There was Halloween, and
there was Friday the 13th.
This was different.
Stephen's script, books, are different
than the Friday's and the Halloween's.
It's got a whole other slant on it.
So, they wanted it done from a softness,
because it made it that much scarier.
Wait til Rachel takes the
baby, for the line.
Okay, let's try it again.
I think at one point, even George Romero
was supposed to direct the film.
He and Stephen King had
worked together before
on Creep Show, but I believe
he was working on Monkey Shines
and was committed to that
project and couldn't do it.
I think ultimately having
Mary direct the film
sort of broke the mold of
a lot of the horror films,
and some of the zombie films
that were being produced in the 1980's.
Where's sound?
Oh, sound is now camera.
I had done Friday the 13th Part Two,
and I really didn't love horror films.
I said, for my career, I'm not gonna shoot
another horror film.
Then Fred Gwynne came to me.
He put his arm around me, and he said,
"Peter, I want you to understand
this is not a horror film.
"This is a film about life and death.
"It's much deeper than
an exploitation film."
But the kicker was, he
said to me, "Listen,
"I lost a child, and I
wouldn't be doing this."
I said, oh my gosh, he lost a child,
and I really liked him, and I
really liked working with him,
and I really liked everybody.
So I decided to do it.
I was hired as lead
greens, which lead greens,
sometimes people go, "What's that?"
It's taking care of any
of the exterior set,
so the Pet Sematary, the
Micmac burial ground,
the front of Jud's house.
Keeping the Pet Sematary
looking creepy was my main job.
I went up to the production office.
I was sittin' there, and
I heard somebody come out
and they said, "We're looking
for some new swing gang,"
and they told me what it was,
it was assistant to the set decorator.
I went up to the set decorator and I said,
"If you will give me a
chance, I will work for you
"for a week for free,
if you like me, hire me.
"If you don't, just say
goodbye and I'll be on my way."
She said, "Okay, you've got
to be in Boot Hill in an hour,
"here's the guy that you're working with,"
and, we took off.
Mary fell in love with Denise
as soon as she walked in.
Denise is a strong actress.
I remember having a screen test with Dale.
It was narrowed down to
four different actors,
two women, two males, and it was...
The phone call came, from Mary, of course,
saying, "We're gonna do this movie!"
Pet Sematary is actually
one of the only horror films
I ever did, and we were in
Stephen King's backyard,
basically, and I think that was perfect.
Dale, in the 80's, was the heartthrob.
There's no doubt about it.
I do remember him coming
in and Mary and I going,
But he was also working incessantly,
so Paramount wanting a bit of a name,
we still had a very small budget.
But Dale was a name that people knew,
and he wanted to do it,
he wanted to have another
side of his personas.
I think that King is very careful about
wanting him to be a doctor
in the course of this film,
and I think the reason for that is because
the role of the doctor is
essentially to defeat death,
or at least to push death into abeyance
for as long as possible.
The story begins, the
narrative begins with Creed
essentially losing his first
patient, Victor Pascow.
The year before, a film
came out that I was in
called The Bedroom Window,
and it got me a lot of notice.
One of the people who had
seen it was Mary Lambert.
She wanted to meet me, and
we talked about the part
and we were on the same page as far as
Pascow being more of
an angel than a ghost.
The cover of my script, before
we started working on it,
I put all these pictures
of angels on the cover
of my script, to
constantly remind me that,
I'm not a ghost, I'm not
a creepy, scary character.
He's like the poster boy for Pet Sematary.
That was Dave's work,
Dave Anderson, my son.
Generally on a film set,
hopefully it's a lot of laughs.
We had a lot of laughs in the trailer
that night when Charlie was there,
and also, oh boy, during
all those makeup hours.
David and John were so great.
The hours went by very quickly
'cause it was just fun,
lively conversations and
a lot of joking around.
We got our SAG cards really young.
I think we started doing baby modeling
when we were six months old,
and I think we did our first
national network commercial
- at three years old.
- Yeah.
We did a lotta twin stuff.
Usually when you hire twins,
one of the twins will
be a really good athlete
and good at the stunts,
and the other is better with dialogue.
They're never, it's never
an equal thing, though.
They're never interchangeable.
Blaze had an audition first.
She had the first audition,
and I think they liked her
and heard she had a twin, and so I went in
on the callback with her.
They really liked the two of us together,
and because of child
labor laws at the time,
I think that probably
helped, because they realized
they could get more work out of us.
There are a certain amount of hours
a minor is allowed to work,
and that can be detrimental
to your shooting schedule,
'cause you have a teacher
going, "Off the set."
So when you're fortunate
enough to find identical twins,
one is off the set, the next one comes in
and takes over the role.
I love working with children, actually.
They're always in the moment,
they're always present, they
always connect with you,
and they never really have an agenda.
So, for me, when I hear that
I get to work with a kid,
it's a good thing.
It's funny, out of
all the films I've done,
I think I enjoy watching
Pet Sematary the most,
'cause it's the easiest to
disconnect myself from it.
Because I was so young,
and I look so different,
I can enjoy it objectively.
Miko Hughes was in a really
important part of this film,
and he was not even three years old,
and he delivered an actor's performance.
It was another piece of
casting that I really
went to bat for.
Paramount was not happy.
They wanted twins.
Shoot it, shoot it, scheduling.
It didn't matter, and Mary won that fight,
because this is a unique
little boy, to say the least.
Mary did something that
was, I think critical
to the success of the film, which was,
she shot as much as she could in sequence
to get Miko's trust,
that he would feel safe,
that he would get to know everyone,
get to feel safe with me
as his mom, his movie mom,
and would be able to
be free, be able to do
what was going to be asked
of him later on in the film,
as it got progressively more difficult.
Considering I was so
young that my memories
are very spotty, they're
like picture memories.
They're not so much a whole
day, or a specific event.
When my husband, David Anderson,
was doing Miko Hughes'
makeup on Pet Sematary,
he actually would call
me from Maine and say,
"I'm having a tough time here with Miko,
"because he's so young, and I have to put
"these terrible makeups on him."
I think that was the toughest part for him
of the whole movie,
actually, it was trying
to provide an atmosphere
for this very young child
so that he wasn't going
to be scarred for life.
The parents were there,
and they brought him in, I said,
"Is there any way we
can, well not sedate him,
"but does he have a nap time?"
They did, they brought him
in when it was his nap time,
and then I would take a
life cast of his hand,
then I'd try to take a
little life cast of his face
and he'd wake up and
that would get destroyed.
We really never got a
life cast of his face,
so that had to be sculpted.
They were really fabulous about making
a lot of stuff a game, so
that he, psychologically
wouldn't be too damaged.
It's funny, about four years later,
I ran into him at an event,
and he literally ran across the lawn,
jumped in my arms, and gave me a big hug.
So then later, I am acting
myself at Wes Craven's
New Nightmare, and they
cast Miko Hughes as my son,
and it actually made it really easy
to start at a place where we
really knew each other already.
People say it's hard to work
with children and animals.
I worked with both in Pet Sematary,
and I didn't find, actually,
that working with the child
very difficult at all.
The cats were another story altogether.
There was actually a
training that happened
before the film, where
we had to get comfortable
with the cats, and I think
there was seven or nine of them.
There was quite a few cats.
Yeah, there was a whole bunch.
To create the effect in the cat's eyes,
we had heard that cats eyes
are very sensitive to light,
and so we flipped the glass
that was reflecting the
light, so that instead
of directing it onto the
film, it was directing it out.
It's such a minuscule amount of light
that it has no effect on the
scene, you'd never see it.
But for a cat's eyes, the
cat's eyes picked it up.
They all had different
names, and I think they
were all trained for different skills.
They had 'em in a wagon called the Prowla.
They had their names and their little beds
where they slept, and
the night I was there,
they had a scene where
he had to go up the tree.
The cat had to run across the road
and go up the tree out
here, and the little cat,
he was great, he was a ham, really.
It was fun to hear the director say,
"Quiet on the set, cat is acting."
The little guy got outta the box,
and he walked right over
it with his tail twitching,
and went right up the tree,
and went, "Haaah!" like this.
They took it on one take.
There were several casting
calls for local people
to come, to get that look.
They had asked for a lot of
pictures to be sent ahead,
and they were cast on a local basis.
I studied theater at
the University of Maine.
I originally was from Lexington, Mass.,
and went up to the University
of Maine to study theater,
and ended up staying
there after I graduated.
I remember when they had the
advertisements in the paper
and saw one about the casting call,
to go to the Grand Theater.
As soon as I saw the ad, it
was like I was laser focused
on this audition, and I
remember the very first,
there was any number
of different auditions,
one after another, but the first one
was this gigantic open call.
All kinds of people were talking about it,
and lots of people went.
I'd say several hundred,
probably, from the whole county.
It just took hours to
get through the doors
into that theater, and then
we're in the auditorium,
and you sit and you
kinda move your way up,
and finally, you're there with
one of the casting directors.
Basically, everyone is
coming in to be an extra
at that point, or I thought I
was coming in to be an extra.
'Cause to me, growing up in Maine,
the idea of being in a Stephen King movie,
even if I just had a
walk on, was a big deal.
I showed up at this
big room and there were
a lot of children my age.
They were bringing us in one by one,
putting us in front of a camera,
and gave us this scenario about
pretend your dog just died.
Then she looks at me and says,
"Now, I want you to do it again,
"but I want you to pretend
you're possessed by an alien."
I'm like, well, being the
method actress that I am,
I just drew on past experience, right?
No, I'm just kidding.
Well, I've been involved
in trucking my whole life.
I started working with
trucks when I was 14,
and I delivered produce
up in Montreal, Quebec,
and came home and went
to Dysart's Truck Stop
in Harmon, Maine, and Mary
Lambert and Stephen King
and some producers were
there having lunch.
They sat me down, talked to me,
and they wanted me to pretend
I was driving a truck.
At this point when I tell people,
people are just incredibly impressed,
like, "You were in Pet Sematary?"
Then they say, "What part were you?"
And I say, "I played Zelda's sister."
People have a very
visceral reaction to that.
They're still rehearsing,
and they're about to
bring in Zelda, I guess,
as soon as Zelda's ready.
Our brother auditioned to be Zelda
because they were looking for boys.
I knew that Zelda had to be terrifying,
because that's what drives
Rachel over the edge.
Zelda was the freakiest thing of all.
I wanted her to die, I wanted her to die.
I knew that Zelda had to be somebody
that everybody wanted
to die, in order to sell
that scene later with Denise.
I would say still to this
day, when I tell people
that the role of Zelda was
played by a male actor,
that's the most interesting thing
I could possibly tell them about the film.
Well, we started with women,
and many of the women
didn't wanna go that far.
Someone had to come and bring to us
something that we'd never seen,
so when it was not happening with females,
why not open it up?
I just thought that it would be strange,
that if we got a really thin, young boy,
that it would be more frightening.
I auditioned for a casting director,
then another couple days later,
I auditioned for Mary Lambert.
It was in a conference room in an office,
so I got underneath the table
and kinda crawled up over the table
and started crawling toward
Mary as I was doing the lines.
I remember meeting
Andrew, and feeling like,
A, he had the physique
that I was looking for,
but B, that he wanted to do it.
He was into it.
By the time I got to Maine,
I knew what I wanted to do,
which was basically what I
did for Mary in audition.
I didn't really know, at that point,
what they were going
to be putting on me
in terms of makeup.
That only helped, but
I already had a voice,
and I figured I would roll with
whatever they gave me to do physically.
I read the part about Zelda
and how she has meningitis,
and I researched a
little bit and found out
that meningitis, what
it is and how it looks,
and my object was to recreate
that spine deforming like that
and the stages that they go through,
and then they start losing weight,
getting sick, on the verge of dying.
They glued around an eighth of an inch
to a half of an inch of foam
all over the face and head,
around the neck, the hands, and of course,
all the way down the back,
which is where you get
that cool back thing.
Turn this guy into a
woman, and add rubber on him,
it was quite a challenge to do that.
I thought it was gonna
be five hours, six hours.
It just kept going, because
after they put it on,
then they had to make it up.
After that, I never got out of makeup
for the next 24 hours at least.
We just shot 'til it was done,
and by that time I really
wanted to pull it off,
because it was very claustrophobic,
and I did actually, and skin
started to come with it,
so I stopped that immediately
because they had to put a
solvent on to dissolve the glue,
which they glued it on,
and then it took another
eight hours for them to take it off.
So by that time, I was cooked.
I was blown away by his acting.
He just got into that
character, and so well.
He was terrifying, and in between takes,
he would sort of go back to
being a normal 18 year old boy,
but then he would start to
kind of screw around with me
and be like, "Rachel."
The Zelda scene is definitely my favorite,
'cause that scared the shit outta me.
That was legitimately one of
those moments when I was a kid,
and I saw that, it
creeped me out big time.
You can put your makeup on somebody,
but if they don't act the
part and believe this makeup
and believe themselves, that they are
this poor distressed
woman, it doesn't work,
and he worked that makeup
and he worked that character.
When I read the script,
my first reaction to it
was that it was like a child's drawing.
It's about the death of a child.
The heart of this movie
is the death of a child,
and that the movie itself
is like a child's drawing.
There's a mommy and a daddy,
and a house and a tree,
and a brother and a sister, and a cat.
It was in my mind like
that, but the person
who's not in that
drawing, is Jud Crandall,
and he's critical to the narrative.
He is the one that sets
the whole story in motion.
He shouldn't have done what he did.
His advice is what causes
Louis to do the thing
that destroys him.
Jud Crandall.
I live just across the road.
You wanna watch out for that road.
Them damn trucks go back and forth
all day and most the night.
- I feel like most
people remember Jud's
character the most.
Pretty much every time
you mention Pet Sematary,
someone does that cooky,
- that cooky Maine accent.
- His great Maine accent.
- Yeah, it's great.
- "Down that road over there."
Everyone's got their impression
of Fred Gwynne in that movie.
I've always loved Fred Gwynne.
I loved Car 54, I loved the Munsters,
I've seen him on Broadway.
He was an amazing actor,
and not fully appreciated,
I don't think, by the industry.
I never thought of anyone else but Fred,
and at first, Paramount felt
that because of the Munsters,
that people would think it was funny,
and that it would take
people outta the movie.
I said, "Well let me go meet with him."
That did nothing to dissuade me.
I felt immediately in love with him.
I didn't change my mind.
I came back, and I told Paramount that
that was what I wanted.
You don't look further.
You look no further.
"What, he'd like to play this?
"Book it, next."
It was Fred Gwynne!
The first time I met Fred,
we immediately had a chemistry.
He's just a big ole bear, a big ole kid,
and I ended up spending
a lot of time with Fred.
I ended up going to, he
had a cabin on a lake,
and I went to dinner at his house
with his wife, Debra, many, many nights.
He was incredible in the role.
He was exactly that guy.
He was exactly Jud Crandall,
when you read the book with his accent.
And it was such a part
that he had not played.
That's what you look for in the actors,
the ones that haven't
played it a million times,
so that when he plays
something differently,
the audience just goes, "Wow!"
Okay, yeah.
I loved the man, I really did.
It was the best part of the
experience of Pet Sematary
for me, was being with Fred
Gwynne, meeting Fred Gwynne
and becoming a really good friend of his.
I did get to meet Fred Gwynne, thankfully.
It was just a moment.
It was a moment of
looking up, and then up,
at this very, very tall man
whose voice was like a pipe organ.
It was beautiful.
I have a couple
children's books he gave me.
He was an illustrator and a writer.
He wrote some kids books,
and they're really,
really interesting, you know, for kids,
kinda interesting ideas,
and really cool artwork.
I still have those, signed
from him, and packed away.
I kinda fell in love with him.
I think it's hard to not
fall in love with him.
I'd always loved his work, and
so meeting him was thrilling.
We talked a little bit
about doing a Maine accent,
him and I, 'cause we
were two of the people
who were doing a Maine accent,
and he just was...
You just wanted to hug him.
Or you wanted him to hug you, actually.
It's interesting because of the,
I guess because of what
the movie was about,
we would spend a lot of
time talking about death,
and the hereafter, what do you
think's gonna happen after,
and Fred had this very clear vision
of what he thought was
coming after his death,
which was the most beautiful concept,
the most beautiful image,
the most beautiful place
he could ever imagine, he said,
"That's where I'm gonna be.
"That's what's gonna happen."
He was very specific about it,
and I have a feeling he's there.
I think everybody was
really into doing this movie.
I think we all felt we
were lucky to be there,
and having a good time doing it.
I wanted to make it work.
Working with Susan
Blommaert was wonderful.
I hired her because she
has a solid body of work
and she's a really good actress.
I was there, actually, when they hung her,
and it really freaked me out.
It looked so real.
Whenever you hang somebody in a movie,
you have to build a harness,
and then the harness
has to be in such a way
that you don't sense
that they're hanging from their arms,
and the actor's got to give you something,
otherwise it looks like they're
hanging from their arms.
I actually asked the production company
to see if I could talk to a psychiatrist.
I wanted to talk to
somebody about what insight
they might be able to give me
of the state of a person who is actually
able to take their own life.
Because my feeling, my instinct was that,
by the time you're actually ready
to walk off the table,
I think you probably have gone
through the gamut of emotion,
and I think you're just, on a mission.
I had decided that my
mother died of cancer,
and that I took care of her,
and I knew exactly what I
was in for, with cancer.
So, when I walked down the
stairs and got on the table,
and put the rope around my neck,
I remember thinking, "I'm going to mama."
And I do remember saying, "Mama, mama,"
as I walked to the edge of the table.
When the film was
playing in New York City,
I got a call from a friend.
She said, "You have got to go to Midtown
"to see Pet Sematary."
Times Square has, often the movie houses
are very participatory,
depending on the genre of film,
and so when I got up on the table
and started walking to
the edge of the table,
she said there was a whole crowd of kids
that went, "Jump, bitch!"
I was completely entranced with the nature
and the landscape of Maine.
I went to school in New
England and I love New England,
and I had never spent
that much time in Maine.
I'd been to Maine before, but
mostly along the sea coast.
I love New England, and Maine is kind of
the epitome of everything
that's good about New England.
Being in Maine was tremendous.
It was so beautiful, and
we, of course frequented
all the local restaurants
and little shops.
Our parents actually
rented a house in Maine
during the filming of the movie.
We had birthday parties,
which where we pretty much
invited anybody we had
met during the filming
that was under 10 years old
and lived on our streets.
The locals in Ellsworth were
all really nice, very kind.
I got to know several of them
because I would hang
out at the local diner.
That's where I would go for breakfast.
I would listen to what people were saying
about this film company
invading their little town.
A lot of them did not
like the traffic hang ups.
Everyone was warned, the film company
was very good about telling us.
They even provided schedules
so that we know that the road
was gonna be blocked off
at certain days and hours,
but still, and it was true for me too,
one time 'cause I was in a hurry,
and we'd zoom up the road and
say, "Oh damn, the movie,"
and have to turn around and go back again.
Some people were bothered
by the lights at nighttime.
They were very glaring out here,
and you could see them for miles away.
It was like a space ship had
landed in Hancock, Maine.
My boyfriend at the
time was David Anderson,
and he was the special
effects makeup artist on set,
and he had invited me to come
to Maine for a long weekend.
Dave met Heather at a
party, where she was at,
but he was working on a Wes
Craven film at the time.
We ended up spending the
night in a little town,
I think it was Bar Harbor,
and he proposed to me that night.
I was totally surprised,
and he actually didn't
have a ring for me, but
he had bought a diamond
at the Ellsworth Jewelry Shop, I think,
and so he presented that to me.
I have to say, I was completely
But, I ended up saying yes.
I think that there's really
no place in the world like Maine.
It's like Maine is a
character within the story.
One of the leading characters, I think,
the town, the area, the way it looks,
the people, the houses.
It's a big part of the movie.
The whole vibe of the
place just lent itself
to that kind of picture,
that kind of, what if,
what could happen, and
anything could happen.
I can't imagine not
shooting that film in Maine.
You get out of your reality,
and you completely invest
in this imaginary tale.
For us actors it was great,
because we could just
soak up the local culture
and try our best to replicate it.
And it's not so much like the accents,
that you can learn an accent anywhere,
like Fred's accent or
the housekeeper's accent.
But it's hard not to make it too cliche.
You don't want it too cliche.
I do remember a line, though.
I think he asked me how
I'm feeling, or something.
"I'm better, no worse."
The land is part of the story.
The characters refer to
the land being sacred,
the land being dangerous,
the land being a character in the movie.
You needed to be in that place,
and we were blessed that we were there
and not on some Hollywood sound stage.
I mean, it's 20 minutes
from Stephen King's house,
and Stephen King was obviously around,
he was around for the
rehearsals, the read throughs.
When we got there, he was around
the first day of shooting.
It was fun, having him on the set,
and watching him collaborate
with Mary on different things.
But he wasn't trying to push his ideas.
In fact, there were some things that,
like the ending and different things,
that he actually liked the
changes made from the book.
He endorsed them.
Remember Fred following him going,
"You know man, I really
wanna pick your brain."
Fred kept saying that to Stephen,
and I think it freaked
Stephen out, which it's hard
to believe that anything
could freak Stephen King out,
but I think it freaked him out a little.
As a writer of horror novels and films,
it's just, you think he's
gonna be really scary,
and he's a big guy, but he
was really a gentle, nice guy.
I remember him picking
us up over his head,
and reading our Archie
comic books with us.
Ready, and go.
That's a cut.
The locations in Maine, the
physical landscape in Maine
is like a fairy tale landscape, the rocks
and the moss and the ocean and the cliffs
and the mountains and the fog.
Bill Dunn, the location
manager, did a spot on job
at finding some remote, yet close by,
only an hour within our
centrally located studios
here in Ellsworth.
Mary and the other principals fell in love
with the house that was
going to be the Creed house.
It was the perfect house for this movie.
It just was right out of the book.
It had so many of the elements
we wanted for that house,
but it was missing a
tree with the tire swing.
They decided the best case scenario
was to go with the house they love,
and move a mature tree
to plant in this yard
and put their tire swing on there.
There's still a spot
in the lawn down there.
It was about five in the
morning they put that tree in,
but it didn't make it.
We tried to save it, we
watered it and watered it,
but it had to come down.
Betty and Charlie Lewis were two
of the finest people that I met.
They're good Maine people,
and concerned about their property,
but totally amenable to, just
as long as you put it back
the way it was, we'll be okay with that.
At the time we were running a paint
and wallpaper store
in Ellsworth, but
friends were visiting,
and they approached him on the porch,
and he sent them to
Ellsworth to talk to us.
They would've moved us
out of town someplace.
We moved across the street.
We were living in here, and we said,
"No, we'll just move over there
"and live in the little house."
She still did her laundry in the ranch,
'cause she could access
that, so we'd see her,
and at any point she'd
say, "I'm comin' out.
"You better stop rolling!"
And she'd be coming out with
her laundry out back.
They rebuilt, you know they
rented that place in Ellsworth
and they rebuilt the kitchen.
They had every detail, even the nick
out of a door or something.
We built all the interiors
up about four feet,
and the reason for that
is because we had stairs
that had to look like they
were going downstairs,
so we built it raised up off of the floor
to accommodate that.
When we weren't working on the big house,
we were in this studio
space, reconstructing
what was matching, what was
inside the family's home,
trying to match it to every detail.
The designers had extremely detailed plans
of exactly how it should look,
so it looked exactly like it.
I remember thinking it was so cool
how Jud's house was fake,
it was actually a set
built onto another house,
so that it could be
across the street from the Creed house.
We couldn't find two houses that I liked
that were in that proximity, so we built
a facade in front of this
little modern ranch house
that was across the street
from the Creed's house.
We have this little
house that we need to build
this lovely Victorian
around, so the first thing is
we laid out the footprint of it,
and then we brought in a utility truck
that planted telephone poles
in a row along the front,
which was gonna be part of the structure
that would stabilize
everything we built around it.
Then we also, on top of the small house,
we built this structure,
they were like big platforms
that were lifted down onto the roof,
and that was the framework for
holding the sides together,
'cause it wasn't even a four-sided house.
It was really a
couple of facades that
looked like a house.
Once those telephone poles were in place,
then we started building
the house, framing it out
very much like you would a real house,
except without necessarily the foundation.
So we would build it up with the studs,
and get the whole framework
with two by fours,
like any other house, but one
of the big differences we had
was taking the sheet rock,
which normally goes on
the inside of a house,
and we put it on the
outside of the structure
so that we started creating
a fire barrier between
that structure and the
little house that was inside.
Then once that sheet rock was on,
then we finished the
house to make it look like
it was a real house.
We did real shingles and
trim, and finished it out
so from the outside it looked quite real.
If you've read the book Pet Sematary,
Stephen does describe the
house as having undergone
a transformation, as if the evil spirits
from the Pet Sematary have
come through the earth,
and I really wanted it to feel that way,
'cause when I couldn't get all those moss
and all that stuff that
was in the woods in Maine,
and I realized what it was gonna cost us
in terms of time and money
to bring in an entire crew
and walk up this hill, to
shoot a little patch of moss.
I'm like, "Well, let's
put it in Jud's house."
The idea was that in this
kinda nightmarish scene,
everything was supposed to
look like it was sinking
into the floor and
oozing through the walls.
There was this beautiful
old Victorian organ
that was one of the props in it,
and they had me take a saw and
slice the bottom off of it,
set it back down on the floor
so it looked like it was
sinking into the floor,
which broke my heart because
it was this beautiful antique
I just sawed right in half.
That was one of the places
where I was really happy
with what the designers came up with.
We took an expandable
foam in between the lath
of the walls, and sprayed it in there
and it grows and oozes and drips out
so it looks like this ooze
is really invading the house.
They had the flashback
scene of Jud's house
when it's all pristine and
beautiful and brand new.
Well, we had already distressed the house
and it had taken three
weeks to get it there,
and we were right ready
to shoot and Mary said,
"Oh no, we forgot to shoot
the house before we did that,"
because there's the Jud scene,
we forgot about the young
flashback, and she goes,
"Well, let's do it tomorrow morning."
So we had a turnover of 12 hours
to get the house back to pristine,
then what ends up in the shot
is only that corner of the house,
and we're like, "Oh my God."
There was a small
trailer, and in the trailer
was me and the dog, getting made up
at the same time.
The dog getting to look like
he had come back from the dead,
and not looking great, so
every time he went out,
they kept sending him back because
he didn't look crappy enough.
They did set me up with a trailer
where they gave me a
costume and my breakfast,
and then they brought
me to another trailer
for hair and makeup,
then they put me on set.
Matt Ferrell played young Jud in the film,
and little did I know then what connection
I would have with him later.
He later became a student of
mine at Bangor High School.
She, before I even met
her, before I knew her,
knew that I was attending that school
and remembered me from that set,
and had no problem telling
the entire theater class
about my yelling out my own
name instead of my dog's name.
Mary was very patient with him.
She'd say, "Now come on
out, out of the door.
"We're rolling, but don't
let that bother you."
He would come out, and
he immediately said,
"Jud, what's the matter boy?"
We did nine takes of
him calling Spot, Jud.
When finally the director
actually was a little short
with me and she said, "No,
your name's Jud, this is Spot!"
What most people don't
realize is that there were
actually two dogs that were used for Spot,
and in the scene you'll notice the shadow
of the original dog on the sheet
that was hanging from the clothesline.
The reason that dog was never
actually seen in the film
was because of the fact
that he just couldn't
act convincingly scary.
They didn't use a live
dog during the scene.
I was staring at a stuffed animal
while I was delivering my lines.
The armory where we built the interior
of Fred's bedroom, it's now
the Rec Center in Bangor.
We had rented the armory,
and were sharing it
with the state National Guard.
We also had the special effects
that were making the bodies,
John Blake and David Anderson,
created these awesome dummies.
They had two of Fred, one where he was
just getting his mouth
cut through, and one
with his jaw all eaten up
by the evil Gage creature.
Denise's dummy was actually a body cast
that they did of her, weighed 70 pounds.
So when Dale's carrying it,
it's heavy, it's really heavy.
The Miko dummy, Miko's
body actually is bigger
than the little dummy.
We used that all over the place.
It was used flying out of the ceiling.
When Denise Crosby drops
down, her body drops down,
then the puppet came
flying down on a cable.
Here you can see this is the puppet,
and it comes down, so she's hanging there
and the puppet comes down and attacks.
When I'm acting with a puppet,
I call it Star Trek acting,
and I know the way they're
gonna cut it and edit it.
As long as I give a true commitment to,
that this is happening, this is him,
in the end when all the editing is done,
it will come out and look real.
He also wound up getting burnt.
We had two of 'em, he
got set in the corner
and the fire came to him
and he got burned up.
One of the state police
who came in just to poke,
a state police officer stopped
by to see what was going on,
poked his head in, and
saw Fred covered up,
he thought it was a real person,
with his face half eaten off.
He went runnin' for the
bathroom, retching like crazy.
It was very realistic.
We were shooting through the night,
and we did two nights of shooting,
one night on a sound
stage and the other night
in the house, Bellview,
I think it was called.
Bellview was chosen because it's the most
Chicago looking house in Hancock.
When Bellview was built,
it was very controversial
because it was an English
style house from England
all of a sudden on Hancock Point,
and that Tudor style is not,
there's no other house
in Hancock like that.
I suppose that's why, I'm sure
that's why they picked it,
because the inside as well as the outside
could be a suburb of Chicago.
Scene as Denise Crosby's
running through the airport
and gets to me and shakes
me like a rag doll,
is what I remember anyway, and
tells me to stop the plane,
and my brilliant line was, "I can't."
It was filmed in the Bangor
International Airport,
and in fact, all the airport scenes
were filmed in that airport,
and I fly in and out of
there all the time today.
I see the very corner where
that scene was filmed.
I often travel through that same gate.
One of the locations that
we shot at, on a Saturday,
was at the Ellsworth City
Hall, the back steps of it,
and we had to shoot there because
we weren't allowed to
go on Orono's campus,
which is where the character, Louis Creed,
is supposed to be the doctor
of Cutler Health Center on Orono campus,
but, we weren't allowed to shoot there so,
Ellsworth graciously
gave us their City Hall
and let us change two of
their offices into ER rooms.
The actual filming locations in movies
are often far more geographically complex
than they appear in the film,
and Pet Sematary's certainly no exception.
Take for instance the
journey from the Creed house
to the Micmac burial ground.
The path behind the house is long gone,
but if you were to follow
where it was into the woods,
you wouldn't find the spot
where the actual Pet Sematary was.
You'd have to walk one town
over to Ellsworth to see it.
Beyond the deadfall was a
trail of twisted tree roots
that Fred and Dale had
climbed, and that in fact
is an actual hiking trail
in Arcadia National Park,
almost 20 miles away.
And of course, one of the
most impressive locations
in the film was an old granite quarry,
one of a few that can be
found on Mount Desert Island.
You'll see, as you did in the film,
what are called hash marks.
They're the slab marks of
where the cutting machine
digs out a slab of
granite, but, amazingly,
Fred was so spry and able to
actually hoist himself up,
so when you see Fred
walking through the quarry,
he's really walking and
jumping up on those stones.
There's no safety net.
Welcome to Micmac.
What do you know
about this location, Shaw?
Well, somebody's buried up here.
I don't know who it is,
nobody will tell me.
I've been asking a long time.
Let's check the crew list
and see who's not here.
Right now we're standing at the site
of the Micmac Cemetery,
it's actually a very old
blueberry field in Sedgwick, Maine.
This was a great and
really interesting shoot.
It was a few nights of night shooting.
Actually, probably a
week of night shooting.
It was great to be out here at night.
I was, one night, on standby, so basically
I came out here and sat
around most of the night.
I remember the trucks being
parked out in this area
behind where the actual
camera work was all done.
First of all, just to
get a feeling for what
the place looks like, you can't
tell unless you're up high,
so I knew we needed a crane for that,
to get the high angle looking down.
Then dollying across the rocks
and figuring out those things
so it's not boring, and it
keeps the viewers' interest
to do interesting things visually.
We were out here before dark, setting up
and getting ready for things,
and there was a big
ring of rocks out here.
That was the Micmac stones,
they were white washed.
They stood out very well, there
was great pattern in there.
The greens crew had gotten out there
and had spent a lotta time
white washing the rocks
and setting them out.
In doing research on
the Micmac and finding out
that they had the tripod animal fetishes
coming up through, where if
you got the spirit animal
of the person that's just died
and burned the remains of that animal,
it carries their soul to heaven.
When I first go up to the burial ground,
I'm not supposed to be affected by it,
but at night, that movies took
on a whole different feeling,
and we did a lot of night shooting.
When it's cold and dark
and everything gets quiet,
and they say, "Quiet on set,"
it gets a little eerie.
The Pet Sematarys mirrored one another,
which is, I think, a very
effective device in itself,
to have one cemetery be this place
where children have
come to bury their pets,
and that is a place that's lush and green.
Jud Crandall says, "This is a good place,
"this is a safe place.
"It's a place where
children come to grieve."
How can you call it a good thing?
A graveyard for pets killed in the road,
built and maintained by
brokenhearted children.
I think it's rather extraordinary.
Extraordinarily morbid.
Then there is the other
ground that has soured,
and it mirrors the one
that's underneath it
in so far as, like the
Pet Sematary itself,
it revolves around circles and
it revolves around spirals.
But these circles and
spirals are not about closure
as they are, I think, in
the lower Pet Sematary.
They're about opening out, and of course,
they open out as an invitation to evil,
to join this place and to
participate in the dark magic
that's at work there.
Whereas in the actual Pet
Sematary where the kids come,
the leash stays there, there's closure.
The circle closes at that point.
We had to replicate a piece
of the Micmac burial ground.
We had to build a six foot
stanchion so they could fit
the cameraman underneath,
and then we had to carve
out of styrofoam some big rocks,
and Miko's little hand
was to push up through
and then to wave at the camera.
And he did just that, but
got lots of dirt in his mouth
when he did it, so he's waving
and choking at the same time.
I remember being really impressed
with the actual Pet Sematary set,
because they did such a good job at making
all the different graves of
all the different animals
look like they're from different eras.
When they showed
me the location, they said,
"This is where you're going
to build the Pet Sematary."
The first thing I did, hire
my brother who's a landscaper,
to actually excavate the land.
We brought in truckloads of
dirt, dumped it in the center.
We raked and did a
topographical map, basically,
of where we were gonna
map out the three circles.
I brought in the
truckloads of the boulders
and dumped 'em at two points where then
I was gonna build the deadfall.
They were able to make it look like
something that had just
naturally come about.
We brought in tons and tons
of sod from Surry Gardens,
and then we went to the
dump, and got a whole bunch
of fencing, we got some
newel posts that were there,
any kinda junk that we could find.
We tried to think like kids,
and how they would build something.
It was like this little circle,
and you could walk around it
for like an hour and a half
looking at all the little fake details.
What remains here are
the left and right piles
of granite stone that we had brought in
to mark the deadfall, because the deadfall
I ended up using at least six truckloads,
and that's pulp truckloads of dead wood
that we had gathered.
What's interesting is that,
even after 25 plus years,
one of the stumps, we
had 18 stumps brought in,
one of the stumps is remaining that was
one of our major
footholds for Fred Gywnne.
Mommy, daddy, this one's a goldfish.
They wasn't all killed by the road,
especially the ones from
back in my time, as a child.
The road wasn't even paved then.
I'm standing currently in the dead center
of the Pet Sematary.
Had a circumference of about 120 feet,
diameter if we were to
really measure it out,
but there's so much overgrowth right now.
But right here is where little
Spot was buried, Jud's dog.
I just farted.
The gate, the iron gate, was right about
between those two trees,
so that you swept in,
were able to see that massive deadfall.
When you first came in through that gate,
it funneled all the way
through here to the deadfall.
These two telephone poles
were put in as a back support
for, there was a very huge
backdrop here of plywood
that they built in holes so
they could light through.
That's where you get that
really fantastic blue light
coming through the Pet Sematary.
One of the more powerful
yet subtle elements
of the film is the music.
I think Elliot Goldenthal
did a brilliant job
of utilizing children's choir to accent
some of the horror that
was happening in the film.
This was Elliot's first big film score,
and I felt like he had that
sense of the fairy tale
that I was going for.
The focus of a child in the movie
is the central focus of the whole thing,
and I think she wanted
to bring a sense of...
innocence and horror colliding together.
He's a mad genius.
He's like Mozart or, you know, lists.
There was a toy piano, there
was various homemade samples
that we made, scraping
different instruments
against the piano strings
and et cetera, et cetera,
but the main, main sound effect
was how I orchestrated the strings.
There was so many similarities to Psycho,
so I made the decision to mainly score it
for string orchestra, like Psycho was
without borrowing any particular melodies
or being influenced by
Bernard Herrmann's...
melodic approach or harmonic approach.
I get a phone call at like, I don't know,
it's like three or four in the morning.
He was working on this score, and he's,
"Mary, there's the most
amazing grand piano here,
"and I'm in this palazzo,
and you've gotta hear it."
He sets the phone down, and
starts playing the piano,
and he just played it for about an hour.
I think I went back to sleep.
I woke back up, it was really fabulous,
and I went, "Elliot,
come back to the phone!
"It's great!"
I love the fact that the Ramones
were able to be part of the film.
Couldn't pick a better
band to be part of it.
I've been a fan my entire life.
Stephen King's a big fan,
and he wanted Ramone's songs
in the movie, so he chose Sheena
and then he gave the book
to Dee Dee Ramone to read
and he wrote it in 40 minutes,
Pet Sematary, the main
song of the soundtrack
in the movie itself, so, it's very simple.
We met Stephen in his house in Maine,
had dinner with him at his house,
and one thing led to
another and that was it.
The sky was interesting.
It was so blue and crystal when it was,
if you remember the kite
flying scene and the picnic,
and right before Gage runs the road,
before the terrible
accident with the truck.
That was the most perfect
day I'd ever seen.
I remember chasing the kite handle
through the field, very vaguely.
I just remember because it
wasn't attached to a kite.
They were just running it,
trying to get me to chase it.
The kite had to be attached to a balloon
because there wasn't any wind
on the one day that they
were trying to film that.
Well the scene with the
truck is interesting because,
from my perspective, I
didn't really see much of it.
I'm not sure exactly
how the effect was done.
I know there was a giant
mirror they had in the road.
I really wanted the audience to feel like
he was in that road.
I wanted to tear people up with it,
but at the same time, I didn't wanna put,
ever put Miko in any kind of danger.
There was no way to have a
stunt person in the road,
so, the one shot where the
truck was actually moving
towards him, and he was
actually in the shot,
we used a mirror.
They shot into the
mirror, and they placed him
in front of the mirror, facing,
you know, the truck is coming this way,
and then you just place
him wherever you want him.
It can be far away, you
can zoom in to the mirror
and bring the truck a lot closer.
The industrial area where
you see me coming out of
with the big gas tanks, the tank farm,
that was down in Hampden,
Maine, at Cold Brook Energy.
Coming out of the paper
mill in Bucksport, Maine,
so we kinda traveled
around Penobscot county
quite a bit, and Hancock county.
I had to do a lotta
retakes because there was
a very small tractor,
cab, and they actually had
three people sittin' beside me.
There was a person on
the back of the truck.
That's one of the most frightening scenes,
is the truck and the
character that the truck
actually plays in that movie.
I thought it was just brilliant.
My wife had mentioned that it looked like
I was driving 90 miles an hour.
I'm assuming that was trick photography.
I wasn't going more than 10 miles an hour.
It couldn't turn the truck around,
so they had to go way back up to Hancock
up to Route One
practically, and come again.
And everyone wanted to know
what the hell's going on
with that oil truck,
because it kept going by
people's houses,
like they'd lost their way.
They actually put an ear plug in me
so I could sing along to the music,
so that was a big help.
I just couldn't sing that song
without hearing the music.
Watching it now, it has a strong impact...
for the movie and of course it's sad,
but I think it's different,
and I've had a few people,
more than a few people at
cons come up and tell me,
the same thing, that
they were okay with it
watching it before, but
then after they had kids,
watching that scene makes that
the hardest scene in the movie.
It's innocence lost in it's purest sense,
and you see this precious little boy,
so it wasn't hard to find
the emotion for that.
It would be something you
almost couldn't recover from.
The thought of losing one of my children,
I have three beautiful children...
That's just the un, sorry,
that's the unthinkable.
They needed five baby coffins,
and we picked 'em up, we went
to the Saint Joseph Church,
and that's where the funeral
for Gage was gonna be.
We went in, and we dressed the set.
They shot the scene, we all
came back to undress the scene.
Max, who was the lead man, he said,
"Okay, everybody grab a coffin, let's go
"load 'em into the truck."
So I grab a coffin, and
Max grabbed a coffin,
Well, when he grabbed it, he
kind of lost his grip on it,
and when he did, the lid flipped up,
and there was a little body in the coffin.
I dropped my coffin and went to run,
and there was a pole right here, and bang.
I smacked my face right into the pole.
I was terrified!
The most difficult day of shooting for me,
absolutely, was the
funeral of my child, Gage.
I knew it was in the script,
I knew it was coming.
I was not looking forward to it.
I knew that it was going to be
exceedingly, physically hard,
because you have to create a state
that you need to sort of remain in,
for the rest of the day.
You have to bring up all these emotions,
and at the time I had no children,
so I had to associate his death
with someone that I loved,
someone that was close to me.
It was very, very difficult
because it went on,
and on, and on, from me rushing
to the coffin and all that.
It was grueling, it was a grueling day,
it was very emotional.
I just wanted it to be big and ugly.
The idea that people would
get into a fist fight
at the burial of a baby like that,
and that they would knock the coffin over
and the body would, you know,
you would glimpse the body.
There was something about that
that was so powerful to me
when I read the scene and when
I thought about the scene.
I just knew that we
had to have that moment
where the little hand
pops outta the coffin,
because it's like he's...
It's foreshadowing the fact
that he's gonna come back from the dead.
The coffin opens up, and
he rises from the dead,
briefly, at his funeral.
I have a major memory of that scene.
My grandchild was in a coffin,
and because I was so angry
with his father and went to confront him,
I lost my sense,
and ended up knocking over
the coffin with my grandchild in it,
and I just became so full of grief,
and I started to cry.
I don't know what's still on the screen,
whether we did it again
and I changed my attitude,
I don't remember.
I haven't seen it in such a long time.
But I was so moved by
the event, that I cried.
There's not a lot of action in grief.
I mean, grief is a very solitary thing,
and it's a bleak landscape.
I just love the fact that
Stephen wrote this scene
at the funeral, where Louis has a fight
with the father in law.
I know a lot of people thought
that scene was in poor taste.
I had to re-cut that
scene over and over again
before everyone was happy with it.
I just knew that it was really important,
and it needed to stay in the movie.
It's part of the reason that people
were so affected by the film.
The loss of the child, and
just wanting to bring back
that child, no matter what.
Looking at photos isn't enough.
There's gotta be something else,
because you just wanna hang on.
There was that scene with Fred and I,
and him talking to me around the table,
and he says, "I'm tellin' ya,
I know what you're thinking,
"don't do it, don't do
it," but my mind is set.
Right now we're at Mount
Hope Cemetery in Bangor, Maine,
where they filmed certain scenes
for Stephen King's Pet Sematary.
One of them was, Missy
Dandridge's funeral,
which was down there, and that's also
where Stephen King
officiated at her funeral.
You can even see this
little knoll in the stairway
that goes up from it.
I was running a store
in downtown Waterville,
which is about an hour south of here,
and a customer came in one day and said,
"Rod, did you know that they're filming
"a Stephen King movie here in Maine?"
And I said, "No, what movie?"
He said, "Pet Sematary, we just came back
"from watching some of the filming."
So instantly, the word
Fangoria popped into my head.
I had written for them twice,
but nothing really big,
and I thought, "Wow, this is
my chance for the big time.
"I can actually get a set visit."
And that was it.
I just came here and walked up here.
They were filming so I was very quiet.
There were about 150 people
on the side of this knoll,
watching this man that was
going through his motions of,
and I could hardly tell what was going on,
but it was Dale Midkiff, and he was giving
a soliloquy about his dead
son and how it was so unfair
that he had died so young.
All of a sudden ambling over from the left
was Brad Greenquist, looking
exactly as he did in the movie.
Fangoria was the only, as far as I know,
the only magazine to
have any correspondent
on the actual set.
At the time, there were
a lotta genre magazines,
like Cinefantastic, and Film Facts,
and other assorted magazines but,
I'm Maine, I'm local, so it
didn't cost much to send me up.
I'm an hour away, and
I was eager to do it.
There was this one period,
it was like 21 days straight,
and I swear, if we had gotten
three hours in that 21 days
of sleep, we were lucky.
So we went out to see if we could catch
a couple hours of sleep.
We laid down, as no sooner
had we gotten to sleep
when we heard this loud booming voice,
and it was, I don't
remember the exact words,
but it was like, "Praise be father,"
and opened up the door
and there was Stephen King
practicing for his graveyard scene.
There really was no
better role for him to play
but to be the minister.
I think it's just brilliant,
and I think it's fun,
and I think it's entertaining
for all the actors on the set.
My first scene that I had to do was
to scare this old lady
that's hanging up her clothes
on an old fashioned clothesline.
That was kind of like
a quick and dirty thing,
where they wanted him to do something.
He was like a zombie, and they wanted him
to do something dramatic that would show
that he was just out of his mind.
Mary described what she wanted out of me,
and the whole bit, to come
in and raise my hands up
and do this crazy ghoulish laugh.
The next scene was working with
Chuck Courtney in the house.
That's where basically I tried to talk him
into being dead with me,
and the town is there to
basically burn down the house
because I'm an eyesore to the community.
Burning down the Baterman
house was really fun,
'cause we just, we burned
the whole house down,
we burned it to the ground.
I've worked with Chuck in the past,
and I knew he was a little bit nervous so,
I kept him calm and I got
him in the fire clothes
and set him up, and started with burning
on the legs and the couch area
until we got around the kitchen,
and burned him up pretty good.
The special effects department pumped in
eight canisters of propane gas,
and then had some fans to
pump it up to the ceiling.
The wind shifted just at the
moment that the gas caught,
and that all lifted up
and was brought over
onto where all the spectators
were, all the debris,
so it was a little harrowing of a shoot.
My favorite part of the film is at the end
when Rachel Creed comes
back, and Gage comes back
in the little blue suit
that mimics the painting
that was on the wall in
Rachel's family house,
when Gage kills the gigantic Fred Gwynne.
Gage is under the bed, and he lashes out
with a scalpel and cuts Fred's leg,
that was the scene in the script.
I thought, "Well, that
seems kind of weird.
"He lashes out, cuts him in the leg,
"and Fred is vulnerable at that point?"
Didn't seem practical, so I said,
"What if Fred is bending down,
and his foot is at an angle
"where the Achilles tendon is stretched,
"and then when Gage reaches
out, cuts the Achilles tendon,
"Fred is down for the count,
and Gage can attack him."
They loved the idea.
I had Fred there, and that's when I took
a cast of his foot in that position,
and that was Fred's foot, cast.
It was designed so that
when you took a lever
and pulled it down like
that, the gash would open up.
Normally it was closed like that,
then you just go like
that, and it would open up.
I thought it was really
scary is when Gage was,
- I guess, eating...
- His neck.
- Jud's...
- Jud's neck.
We had this appliance on Fred's neck.
It was an appliance that
kind of looked normal,
and then you bite it and rip it off,
and we're trying to tell Miko,
"It's all a game, it's not real.
"You're gonna bite Fred,
it's just an appliance,
"see, it's an appliance, it's rubber."
So they roll the cameras,
he goes in and he lunges
and he grabs the rubber and he
bites it and he pulls it off.
It was a beautiful
scene, and then Fred went
into ballistics, like "Ahh!, you know,
Fred's going, "Ahhhghh!"
Giving death chortles
and everything like that,
and Miko freaked out, I mean
he literally freaked out.
He thought he had ripped Fred's neck off.
The crew, everybody just froze,
and the parents rushed to me.
Everybody was feeling really
bad that they did this
to the kid, we traumatized him.
It certainly was the
highlight of the movie,
having that fire.
There was a space between
the facade of Jud's house
and the house behind
it, and we designed it
with the idea that we were
gonna burn the facade.
I came for the house burning.
I was not working that
day, but I came because
Mary and everybody was
talking about it on the set,
that we may burn the
entire state of Maine down.
They had all these tanks of gas behind it,
all different colors.
They assured me that
nothing would go wrong.
We were trying to be as
careful as we possibly could.
Safety was an issue.
It's tough to plan for something that
you really don't do on a regular basis.
Production designers
and the effects people
collaborated on it, and they said,
"Don't worry, we're not gonna
burn the other house down,"
and that's not my area of expertise.
It never even really
got close to the house,
but it did, it burned.
I do remember a lot of
people there, from the town.
There were a lot of spectators.
Standing across the
street, quite a ways away,
and it felt like the fire
was right in my face.
It was so intense.
This thing went up like hell.
Hell came out from the ground.
We rehearsed many times
where I'm supposed to walk,
where I've gotta walk,
where I'm supposed to walk,
so I'm certainly seen by
the camera and the house.
It's like, "Be in character,
"but don't screw up the shot, Dale,
"because these people are
going to be really angry
"with you if you do."
You see him going by the house,
after he set the house on
fire, and he's go the dummy,
you see him go like this.
Dale actually got a second
degree burn on his face
while he was carrying the dummy,
because he couldn't put her up
high enough to cover his face.
At the end, when everybody
said cut, blah blah blah,
and everybody was moving
away, I did watch it burn.
It was a bit odd.
It felt like an ending to me, in a way.
In terms of the ending of the film,
there were three versions
that were kicked around
as possibilities.
The first one was that Stephen King wrote
in his original screenplay, which was
Rachel Creed comes back to the house,
finds Louis playing cards on
the floor, the phone rings.
It's Ellie from Chicago.
She's calling to see if her father's okay,
and Rachel picks up the phone.
Of course, she's undead
and she's looking gross,
and in a normal voice says,
"Yes, of course, we're fine,
"daddy's fine, and we're
gonna be a happy family."
As she's saying that, she turns
to the camera, and smiles.
The way King wrote it, when she smiled,
her teeth were all distorted
and gross and rotting.
There's a freeze frame, and
that's the end of the film.
The second ending, which was
shot on location in Maine,
has Rachel Creed coming
home, finding Louis,
and when she enters the
kitchen she extends her hand,
her dirty hand onto his shoulder.
He turns around, and the camera goes black
and you hear Louis scream.
It just was felt, in general,
by the studio executives
that we needed one more hit
at the end of the movie,
one more little dark,
scary, outrageous moment.
We needed something graphic
that would sell the end of the movie,
that she was decomposed,
that she had been attacked.
So I'm like, well let's
just bring Denise back
with a bug crawling out of her ear.
I get a call, "You've
gotta come in to Paramount.
"We're gonna re-shoot the ending.
"We're gonna make it more bloody."
I think I may have seen sketches
of what it was going to look like,
but until I sat there
and had Lance Anderson
start to begin to build this, this thing,
I just remember putting on the clothing,
the shredded stockings,
and bloodied stockings,
and it began to come together.
Well this is kinda the
damage that Gage did, to her,
so that reveal, and the
goo coming out of it.
There was like a little
wire running through it
that someone was working, and
leaking goop out of.
It was disgusting.
It was the big premiere night
for the film in New York City,
and I enjoyed the first part
of the movie, but I
knew all the scary parts
were coming up in the second half,
and so I just politely excused
myself to the ladies room,
and I probably hung out in the ladies room
for a good 20 minutes,
just 'cause I wanted
to make sure I missed
all the scary scenes.
I remember my mother coming
in and freaking out on me
and saying, "You're
missing the whole movie!
"This is your big night!"
So the Bangor premiere,
I was invited to it.
It was an early showing,
and again, as a fifth grader
it was kind of a big deal.
It was the first time I put on a tuxedo
and I actually got a limo,
and my father and I went.
Stephen King was there, and he got up
and he spoke at the beginning
I mean, so cool.
Then the movie started, and keep in mind,
all I knew about the movie
was the five pages I was on.
And the movie is horrifying.
I think what sent me out of the theater
was after the woman committed suicide
after finding out that she had cancer,
and it was such a realistic moment,
not a crazy horror movie
with knives swinging,
but almost that some of
this could become reality.
Lisa Stathoplos, who went
to college with me at UMO,
we're sitting there watching her scene,
she goes, "Oh oh oh, here it comes!"
I see the first shot of the scene,
and I know I haven't shot it.
It's a picture of the clothesline
and there's this woman
bending over a wash basket
or something, and Carly and
her are sitting next to me,
leans over and she goes,
"That's not your ass."
It definitely wasn't her voice,
and she got a little bit
miffed at that, I think,
that they voiced over her voice,
because she has a beautiful voice.
They never asked me to
do anything different.
I think I actually originally
got hired 'cause of my voice,
so it was very odd.
My father came out of
the movie, was like, green,
chugged a bottle of Pepto Bismol
and had a couple of beers.
He was really traumatized by it.
Yeah, it was a scary movie,
and it took another year
or so before I was able
to watch it from the beginning to the end.
Pet Sematary is really,
it's really a timeless story,
and all the reasons that
people thought it wouldn't work
as a film, are what have made
it into such a timeless piece.
It's about something that
really never changes,
which is the dynamic within a family,
and the love that parents
have for their small children,
and the fear that people have of death,
and the desire through the ages
to confound death, to get around it,
and bring their loved
ones back in some form
to preserve their memory.
I just think that those
feelings and those desires,
even though they're in
many cases unhealthy,
are very relatable.
Dale and Fred were going
to the Micmac burial ground,
on that journey, and I
was hanging in a tree
and I don't remember what the lines were.
"Don't go there," or something like that,
just warning them not to go.
That was cut, for whatever reason,
but I had to hang in that tree for,
oh maybe an hour or two, with
all that makeup.
I was not on set for Missy's hanging
when they actually shot it.
I was there to, of course, tear it down.
They had the rigging
noose, and the clips on it
that were where she would be suspended,
and obviously not really hung.
That was something that I kept
as a memento, just for fun.
We're going to be doing
an interview in Maine
in a couple weeks with Donnie Green,
the guy who actually
was driving the truck.
Oh wow, so you guys
tracked down everybody.