Pet Semetary 2 Review (1992)

 
My History With the Film:
Pet Semetary 2 caught my attention back in 1992, because Pet Semetary was arguably the biggest horror movie to come out in 1989-1990, at least in the eyes of the elementary school kids I hung around with. Everyone loved Pet Semetary and it was not surprising to see a sequel come out. It starred an unrecognizable Anthony Edwards (Goose from Top Gun, prior to showing up on ER) and Edward Furlong, lovingly referred to as that kid from Terminator 2.

Until October 2017, I hadn’t seen Pet Semetary 2 since the early 90’s and honestly didn’t know what to expect. It only took me about fifteen minutes into the movie to realize that I remembered it better than I did the original Pet Semetary. It’s different and arguably inferior to the original, but I enjoyed it way more than I expected.

What the Film is About (Non-Spoiler):
An ancient Indian burial ground gets used to raise the dead again with unsuspecting results.

What I Did Like About the Film:
-The cast is strong. Edward Furlong (Terminator 2) plays a great brooding, depressed child and Anthony Edwards (ER) plays a dad who is trying too hard. Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) is amazing as a son of a bitch and you just want him to die almost as soon as he first graces the screen. Jason McGuire is fantastic and it’s sad he only has three credited roles to his name (Forest Gump, Pet Semetary 2, and Leap of Faith).

-The pacing of the film is really good. It gets off to a great start and never really slows down.

-The animals in this movie are amazing.

-It’s not common for me to fall for a fake out, but the opening scene features a woman walking down a gothic staircase and I immediately thought to myself, “What did I get myself into? Are they really going to link this cemetery to some European castle?” Then I realized it was part of a movie set and I breathed a sigh of relief.

-The gore and effects were fantastic, especially in the final scenes.

What I Didn't Like About the Film:
-The use of animals in this movie creates fantastic horror, but also really pushes my buttons at times. I guess that’s what a good movie does, but for someone who likes animals this can be a bit hard to watch. The antagonists in this film have no regard for animal life.

-The third act is pretty crazy. I mean, Pet Semetary 2 kinda goes off the rails with crazy, but I enjoyed it.

Additional Notes:
-The monster arm skeleton used at the beginning of the picture is actually from the skeleton found in the pond in IT (1990).

Rating:
Pet Semetary 2 encapsulates what I love about 1990’s horror. It tells a good story at a good pace, and doesn’t shy away from anything. It doesn’t try to be something that it’s not and instead gives good actors plenty of space to develop characters and create tension. Is it a perfect movie? Of course not, but it’s a damn enjoyable way to spend a couple hours and still get that Stephen King vibe.

I rate Pet Semetary 2 as a three out of five and say it’s a rental. This might be blasphemous in horror circles, but I enjoyed watching Pet Semetary 2 more than Pet Semetary. I just felt like the film was more polished even if it abandons the horror towards the end and gets campy.


Stigmata Review (1999)


My History With the Film:
In the summer of 1999, I was in the process of moving from Dallas, Texas to Memphis, Tennessee. While my father looked for houses, I stayed at my grandmother’s house in the mountains of North Carolina. Naturally, I brought my computer with me. It was the first time most of my family had ever seen a home computer up close and I spent that entire summer playing Need for Speed and surfing the internet in all its incredible slowness.

That was the first time I remember movie trailers being made available for download. There was no streaming, so these files were uploaded in QuickTime. I remember leaving my computer on all night long and then not using it most of the day, just to download a three minute SD movie trailer. I downloaded three trailers that summer: End of Days, American Pie, and Stigmata.

Everyone was amazed that you could watch something like a movie trailer on a computer, and I watched those three trailers dozens of times. I also went to see all three movies in theater when they came out.

Being a huge horror fan, Stigmata appealed to me. It was flashy, dark, and looked like an updated version of The Exorcist (at least from the trailer). I give credit to my father (who hates horror movies) but he actually went with me to see Stigmata. I remember enjoying it, especially since I had a soft spot for dark religious movies like The Seventh Sign.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A priest who doubles as a scientist attempts to discover why an atheist has been stricken with stigmata.

What I Liked About It:
-The cinematography and editing reeks of the 90’s. It’s fast, flashy, and features more than one scene at a nightclub. In the late 90’s, this was getting old, but now in 2018, it was almost refreshing to see again.

-Gabriel Byrne is amazing (then again, when isn’t he). I thought Patricia Arquette did a satisfactory job in her role as the stigmata victim, but it’s Bryrne that steals the show.

-::SPOILER:: I forgot that this movie tied into the Gnostic Gospels and I found the ending to be riveting in that way. It was also nice that the movie ended with some true life facts about the quotes and the Gospel of Thomas. It alleviated my appreciation of this movie tenfold, and got me interested in researching the Gnostic Gospels again.

-The visual effects hold up well in this film. There was little to no CGI used, and thus no clunky looking effects. The movie used some great sound effects, some cool contact lenses, and some clever editing to get across a few scenes of pure torture.

-The most effective scene actually comes a strange point in the film. Father Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne) and Frankie Page (Patricia Arquette) are having a very friendly lunch, when she has wounds on her feet develop. It’s so sudden and out of the blue, it really works. It felt natural.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-This film walks that strange line between thriller and horror. I guess if I had to sub categorize it I would call it a spiritual thriller. There are some legitimately creepy scenes (especially if you are a Christian), but I’d struggle to say it’s a scary movie.

-The film uses several scenes at a hair salon where Frankie works. It’s very 90’s cliché and really slows the film down. With that being said, it does help establish the world that she lives in and I can see why it was added.

-I’m not sure if I buy the whole woman was possessed by a bitter priest deal. It works well within the confines of the story, but it’s definitely a little out there.

Additional Notes:
-Some of the footage of the subway car was actually taken from the movie Money Train. If you look closely, you can see a steel beam sticking out of the front window.

-According to Fangoria 184, there is no CGI in the movie whatsoever. All visual effects were done by Tim McGovern and they used blue screen.

-The Gospel of Thomas is a real document from the Gnostic denomination. However, it was written in Coptic (an Egyptian language based on the Greek alphabet) not Aramaic, as the movie states.

-The “Aramaic” Frankie writes is not actually Aramaic. The director felt like ancient Hebrew looked more interesting and used that instead.

-The subway was shot on a fake train carriageway that was sometimes used on Seinfeld.

-The movie was a box office success but not well received by critics. Gabriel Bryne was nominated for a Razzie for this performance and his performance in End of Days that came out the same year. Ironically enough, he played the Devil in End of Days, and I enjoyed both of his performances from 1999.

-Director Rupert Wainwright began his career doing rap videos like Straight Outta Compton and U Can’t Touch This, but is best known for his directing of The Fog remake.

-Patricia Arquette’s only other horror movie role along with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Rating:
Stigmata is not a movie you’ll hear a lot of people talking about. It was a critical disaster and despite its blockbuster success, it didn’t leave much of a legacy. It’s not scary enough to be a good horror flick, and it’s not deep enough to be a good thriller, so it exists somewhere in-between. I enjoyed revisiting Stigmata, but I’m sure my nostalgia had a big influence on that. With that being said, I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

I can recommend Stigmata to people who enjoy religious movies with a supernatural twist, otherwise I say skip it. It’s a two and a half out of five for me, and at best a rental.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)


My History With the Film:
If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have told you I saw I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and found it to be okay. After revisiting the film, I’m honestly not sure if I ever saw it. A few scenes looked familiar, but for the most part this was like a first time viewing for me, despite owning the film on DVD for at least five years.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Two summers after the events that led to the first film, survivor Julie James finds herself in the middle of another mass murdering spree this time while vacationing in the Bahamas.

What I Liked About It:
-This film features another nostalgia fueled cast with Jennifer Love Hewitt (Can’t Hardly Wait), Freddie Prinze Jr. (Boys and Girls), Brandy (Moesha), and Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile). Horror legend Jeffrey Combs shows up, as well as a very obnoxious Jack Black. An unknown John Hawkes also makes an appearance as a friend of Ray.

-The abandoned beach resort was a neat setting, especially isolating it with a hurricane incoming.

-Jennifer Love Hewitt is an amazing screamer. You don’t see her get mentioned amongst the great scream queens, but she really does sell it.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-While I liked the cast, I didn’t like most of their characters. They were poorly written, not well rounded, and their deaths had no emotional impact at all. It was like a late 80’s slasher film, where the characters are just fodder for the killer, except the killer in this film wasn’t all that great.

-Jack Black puts on his worse performance ever in this film.

-The killer’s reveal sucked big time. It was disappointing and they telegraphed it so much.

-The film attempts to play homage to the first film by having Jennifer Love Hewitt scream and challenge the killer by spinning around with a panning out camera shot. It worked in the first film; it was just out of place in the second and came off like a parody.

-The movie is filled with too many dumb moments: finding the capital of Brazil on a coffee can, Julie accepting of Will sleeping in her room, Ray getting a gun, etc.

Additional Notes:
-Due to his work on Halloween H20, Dawson’s Creek, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, and The Faculty, Kevin Williamson did not have the time to write the script for this film or Scream 3, which hurt both sequels.

-Cast members with roles in other notable horror films:
  • Mekhi Phifer (Dawn of the Dead)
  • Matthew Settle (Ouija)

Rating:
This movie is awful. I had no idea it was going to be so bad. I either blocked out my first viewing or I’ve never seen this movie before, and quite frankly, I’d been alright never seeing it. While the first film was a very acceptable by the numbers slasher film, this is a terribly written cash-in that unfortunately included two of the main cast members. The inclusion of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. made the film look like it was something more than shitty sequel that deserved to be released direct-to-video.

Fans of the first film will not be satisfied and someone just looking for a fun slasher won’t be either. It’s barely competent as a slasher film, and is definitely not something worth watching unless you are completionist. I’d give this film a one and a half out of five, and say skip it.