'Pet Sematary Two' revels in arbitrary visions of atrocity

September 01, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

"Pet Sematary Two" is a routinely despicable film that only merits a special note of condemnation for its unusual attraction to animal offal. I lost all will to see it through to its end after the director staged an elaborate prank by which picture-perfect 4-year-old twin girls are hauled before a cage full of kitties that have been massacred by a psychotic Siberian husky. It looks like an explosion in the back room at KFC, and it was completely unnecessary by any mandate save the filmmaker's need to shock.

In point of fact, "Pet Sematary Two" is in total completely unnecessary. It has by now abandoned any connection to the works of Stephen King, whose novel "Pet Sematary" formed the basis for the original film, so much so that no acknowledgment of the writer is listed in the credits. The movie simply exists to churn out arbitrary visions of atrocity without redeeming social value. Or even unredeeming social value. Read my lips: It stinks.

What's embittering is the squandered talent, a Hollywood specialty. Clancy Brown has been a strong presence in such films as "Shoot to Kill" and "The Bride." This movie reduces him to drooling psychopath who murders his own wife and kid. Anthony Edwards was the beloved Goose of "Top Gun" and the star of "Mr. North" and "Downtown." Here, he's a nerd dad who never registers on screen. Edward Furlong made an undeniable impression at the center of "Terminator 2"; in "Pet Sematary Two" he's hardly there.

The movie works a few primitive wrinkles on the primitive King concept: that a chunk of land in Maine, once holy to the Indians and presumably blessed by St. George Romero, possesses some dark magic by which the interred dead can rise, shake the dirt out of their hair, and walk. They're still dead, only now they're really ticked off. So they go around killing people, mostly those close to them.

This simple notion is engineered to produce a variety of flamboyant crimes, which is fair enough in a horror movie, though tiring; but so much hostility is directed to animals that it really feels shocking. We get extreme close-ups of the wound cavity a high-powered rifle will blow into a dog's haunch, over and over again. It turns us into either vets or butchers, neither of which is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon at the movies.

'Pet Sematary Two'

Starring Edward Furlong and Anthony Edwards.

Directed by Mary Lambert.

Released by Paramount.

Rated R.

No stars.

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