This guy can’t believe October is over, but I still have one more chapter left in my month’s viewing to follow…
Pet Sematary (1989 – Mary Lambert)
A good half of this adaptation of yet another Stephen King novel is essentially foreshadowing. You know what’s coming, you know how it’s going to happen and you know what the result is going to be, and yet it takes its time getting there…That’s mostly OK as you get a heaping helping of Fred Gwynne during the setup and those bits alerting you to what is to come are handled rather decently. After a new family moves into a house on a well-traveled road (with a single tank truck apparently driving by about 20 times a day), they discover a cemetery at the end of a path behind their house. With help from their kindly neighbour (Gwynne), they learn it’s a cemetery for pets and it dates back hundreds of years. When the family cat gets munged on the road, he lets the father in on a special secret – a bit further afield from that cemetery is another one that provides some interesting side effects to those buried there. It has its goofy bits and Denise Crosby threatens to shut the whole damn thing down on her own, but it finds its rhythms here and there and manages to hold you until the eventual denouement which spirals nicely out of control.
Brainscan (1994 – John Flynn)
You really have to love those older films that played with the early home computers – whether they got the technology right or not, it’s always great to see how little we expected the huge revolution that was just around the corner. Brainscan gets a bit of it, though, by centering the story around a interactive, virtual reality horror video game that sucks in shy teenager Michael (played by Edward Furlong). After being unimpressed with the sales pitch, he gives the game a whirl and suddenly finds himself tasked with killing some unknown sleeping man in his bedroom. Thinking it’s all a game, he completes the task and can’t wait to play the second part since it all felt so real. And then he sees a news story depicting the murder he just committed in the game. Is it real or was it just a game? He balks at playing again, but the virtual host of the game morphs out of his TV into his room and forces him to play several more rounds with more deaths piling up each time. It’s a neat premise, but any dread or even general horror at the concept is diminished by the cartoon character Trickster (egads, what a terrible name). It does keep you in suspense as to how it will all play out and stays at a reasonable entertainment level (and provides Frank Langella as a cop on the case – so you’ve at least got that), but still very much a lesser effort.