Monday, April 24, 2017

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary and Returning from the Grave: A Film Review

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*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by distributor Terror Films. This writer has worked on some online marketing for this title.

Directors/writers: John Campopiano and Justin White.

Interviewees: Denise Crosby, Dale Midkiff, Miko Hughes, Brad Greenquist, Carlene Hirsch.

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is a documentary on the 1989, Mary Lambert produced film. Developed over five years, the documentary shows dedication and careful editing. Mostly told through interviews with cast and crew, this documentary offers a lot of behind-the-scenes trivia. It also delivers a cohesive breakdown on how the original film was developed. From set location scouting to character motivations, almost everything (in production) is covered. There is one thing missing though; there is no actual footage of the film, which is owned by Paramount Pictures. Still, did you know there were multiple endings shot for the film? This viewer did not, nor how Stephen King based his original novel on an actual animal burial ground. This film fan enjoyed this nostalgic return to the original film, about: a family and an old MicMac burial ground; others will find something of value or interest within this thorough release.

The foundation of the documentary is found within its interviews. Many of the former cast and crew have returned to this documentary. Actress Denise Crosby (The Watcher, 2016) relives some of her interactions with the child actors. Meanwhile, central actor Dale Midkiff relates the difficulties of shooting Gage's (Miko Hughes) death scene. Choked up, Midkiff shows authenticity and how, being a parent now, the scenes affect him and have affected him in the past. Other interviews are just as compelling. Interviews range from the Berdahl twins (Blaze and Beau Berdahl) to Gage, to Brad Greenquist as the ghostly Victor Pascow and many others. The film is a comprehensive look at the challenges, of shooting this ground-breaking film.

It is best to do away with this viewer's only criticism, of Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary. There is no actual footage of Pet Sematary, in this documentary. The filmmakers have relied on behind-the-scenes photos, taken by: the cast, crew and visitors to the set as visual reminders. It would have difficult and expensive to use footage from the original film. So, it would be best for viewers to view Pet Sematary first, before watching the documentary. This way, the creepiness of the original title is still fresh in the memory. As well and as an aside, the filmmaking magic (and how seamlessly it is brought to screen) is contrasted by all of the hard work, put into production and discussed in the documentary. For instance, in one of the final scenes, a facade of a building is burned to the ground. The scene lasts only a few seconds. Yet, it took the crewmembers several weeks to build this combustible set. There is very little not to like within Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary and much more to enjoy.

There is much to learn, trivia-wise, from Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary. As it should, the documentary begins with the development of Stephen King's book. Read by this film fan years ago, it was compelling to see how King's experiences led to his most terrifying book: "can Stephen King scare even himself?" Much of the novel was built upon the near loss of one of King's children, near a busy roadside. Later in the documentary, on character motivations, actress Susan Blommaert as Missy Dandridge relates how she created a story for her character's suicide; her mom made her do it! It was also interesting to hear Blommaert relate her experience in a theatre, showing Pet Sematary and how the audience reacted to her on-screen death. Blommaert has a few comedic stories to tell. Other writers and horror fans relate their experiences on set, or on watching the original film in theatres. There is lots of material here, for people who want a complete look at Pet Sematary and how it was shot.

Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary has already released via Video-on-demand, on several platforms, worldwide. It has just been announced that this title will see a home entertainment launch, via Synapse Films. Having seen the film, this film critic can relate that Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary is an affective film. This hair raising title has dug itself out of this viewer's memory and he is glad it is has. Pet Sematary is an absolutely horrifying film. And, directors John Campopiano and Justin White's revisit the material in a comprehensive manner. Though, the film has lost cast and crewmembers, such as Fred Gwynne, Pet Sematary and Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary will not soon be forgotten by fans of the horror genre and they should both be darkly celebrated.

Overall: 7.75 out of 10.

A trailer for the film is available here: A Trailer for Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary on 28DLA


Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary at Terror Films: Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary Details at Terror Films


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