Pet Sematary question

Be forewarned: I’ve only seen the movie, not read the book, so this is all from the movie version.

What exactly does the haunted grave site return the previously dead as?

When I first watched the movie as a kid, I thought they were kind of like zombies or ghouls. Though the cat and the kid return without much of a scratch on them (though I think he had a scar on his head?), the wife comes back with this bleeding, crusty eye. However, they do happen to kill the undead Gage with, I think it was poison? And didn’t they feed Church the cat that poison steak or something?

So whatever they come back as is alive and can be killed, but doesn’t seem to feel much pain. And they’re evil. Why are they evil? Could they have captured Gage and the wife and rehabilitated them? Or were they destined to be evil forever?

As for Gage, I don’t know how old he was, but I seem to remember him talking more after he came back as evil and doing typically unrealistic physical feats against a grown adult. Do they come back with some kind of special powers? Are they smarter? Do they want to kill everyone? Like, if they put Gage in daycare, will it end up like Carrie at the prom? Or maybe they only want to kill the people they are familiar with?

Here’s a question I don’t think they answered either: What if you put undead Gage and undead mom in the same room? Will they go after each other? Or are they like zombies and will only attack the living?

It’s been too long since I’ve seen the film to answer the question, but it did remind me of Davey & Golath II: Pet Cemetery.

you’re not supposed to know exactly what it is

that’s why it’s spooky

I don’t think they’re all evil. The old man, Judd, mentions when he was a boy, he brought back his dog, who didn’t come back evil so much as…different. Kind of like a piece of meat. No real spirit. And Church was creepy, but not evil. I think Gage comes back evil because it’s been several days (weeks?) since he first died that he was buried. Though that doesn’t explain why Rachel, the wife, comes back evil…

ETA: Also, my info all comes from the book, not the movie…so hopefully not too much changed in the adaptation!

I had all the same questions. Allow me to recommend not reading the book thinking you’ll get the answers. The book is a fine read but left me more pissed off regarding these questions than the movie did.

I don’t recall the details from the book. In the movie the ‘Sematary’ was associated with Micmac magic of some kind. I don’t remember anything from the movie or the book associating the resurrections with any classical type of being like a zombie.

It’s been a reeeeaaaaally long time since I’ve read the book but as far as I remember it doesn’t answer any of your questions. I don’t think King likes to put labels on his monsters, or give out too many details, because to take away the mystery is to make it less scary.

I seem to recall him saying something along those lines, possibly in On Writing
(or whatever it was called)

My impression of it was they came back to life, not undead-life like a zombie, but more or less back to life…but they were changed. As if something else came back in their body. I don’t remember if the returnees had the memories or not, I don’t remember what they said. But I got the impression that it wasn’t them, but something darker. So no, I don’t think they could be rehabilitated. I would imagine that those who came back would want to cause as much harm and damage as possible, not just target those who knew them.
As for special powers, I would say it’s sort of similar to being possessed (as possession is portrayed in film and television). The entity controlling Gage and the wife could abuse the body and move it in ways a human wasn’t meant to move it, but it didn’t have super strength or any other abilities as far as I recall.

It’s been a long time, but…

The cemetary was holy Micmac (Native American) ground, and it used to be able to bring people back from the dead. The Indians knew it and sometimes used it to bring back loved ones, who [fanwank] might have been acidentally killed before their time but not those who died naturally of old age or infirmity[end fanwank].

HOWEVER, at some time in the past, the Micmac tribe stopped using it, because for some unexplained reason the ground had “gone bad”. After the ground had gone bad, anyone you planted in there would come back as an animated body, but mentally deranged and spiritually bad. Maybe they’d “know” things too, that they should be able to know. “Whoremonger!”.

*Arrgh. shouldn’t be able to know.

…whoremonger. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you have Netflix, watch the movie “Wake Wood”. This movie pretty much explained everything that" Pet Semetary" didn’t. It’s actually a very good movie. It has the basics of “Pet Cemetary”. It’s deff a lot creepier than Pet Cemetary.

In the novel, it’s also explained that the time that lapses between the actual death and the burial plays a part in how “off” the reanimated body is. The longer the time span, the less “humanity” is present upon revival.

Yes. Judd explained to Lou (in the book, that is) that most people or animals came back somewhat vacant, still just “a little bit dead”. Others had been “touched by the Wendigo”. Lou believes that he actually encounters the Wendigo in the woods, I think while he was carrying Gage out there.

Probably it made a better movie ending. The book, however, leaves it open to interpretation and much scarier, IMO.

Lou is sitting at the table, playing cards and waiting for his wife’s return. He hears her walk in and come up behind him but doesn’t turn around. Last line of the book:


A wendigo, or (probably) more accurately, a corpse reanimated by a wendigo.

CMC fnord!

I’ve read the book many times, but not since the last ten years or so…

From what I recall, people and animals come back as their real selves, not possessed, but lacking chunks of their personality and morals. It’s like severe head trauma, combined with sociopathic lack of impulse control and empathy. Cat’s gonna scratch, little kid’s gonna tantrum with kitchen knives.

Over time and generations, the Micmac grounds had gone stale and less effective at returning people at 100%, and were now approaching barely able to return anyone with effective consciousness.

My own theory is that Lou(?)'s frequent usage of the grounds was drying them up quickly, so the cat, Gage, and then his wife, were progressively much worse.

From the book, I had the impression that there were two different possibilities for the returning dead.

  1. They just return. They’re off–they come across as brain-damaged or just crazy, and sometimes know things they shouldn’t. There’s a reference to Church stinking, but I don’t think it was zombie-rot stink, just the stink of a cat that has forgotten or is no longer able to keep itself clean. He was also clumsy.

The returned are creepy, especially since they’re the damaged remnants of someone a character cared enough about to try to bring back, but I don’t think they’re necessarily evil or other.

  1. They get touched. Something interfered in their return–maybe whatever tainted the burial ground took a direct hand. In the book, it’s referred to as a wendigo, which isn’t totally out of line with the behavior of the touched.

The touched return with something else inside them. They seem have the memories of the deceased, but not the soul. Whatever it is, it makes them cannibalistic monsters–perhaps it’s really the wendigo itself, wearing the body of the deceased.

No, I think the book explains that animals come back just as weird, but not evil, but any people buried there will be. (Judd later tells a story of this happening, IIRC) Maybe it’s because animals aren’t sentient creatures they way humans are?

God, it’s been a long time since I’ve read that book. The only King book AND movie that I seriously can’t watch without freaking out. (Mostly because of the part with Rachel’s sister, Zelda. Good god, the dude who played her was fucking creepy!)

Yeah, it’s a good book and a decent movie, but since becoming a parent I can’t deal with the Gage part. Pause the movie, I have to go in the bathroom and sob for a while!

IIRC, the evil had cycles, waxing and waning like the moon, and if you buried someone when the dark side was strong, you regretted it.

Because the ground is STONIER!

I always took it that they just came back “demented” in some real sense. And it’s really very typical of SK to leave a lot of unanswered questions. That can be good at times and adds a sense of wonder and mystery, but sometimes I think it’s just lazy. I liked his work a lot as a kid but I kinda can’t stand him now.