Friday, March 16, 2018

UNEARTHED AND UNTOLD: THE PATH TO PET SEMATARY (2015) (Special Edition Blu-ray Review)

Special Edition Blu-ray 

Label: Synapse Films
Rating: Unrated 

Duration: 97 minutes
Region Code: Region All
Video: 1080i HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
Director: John Campopiano, Justin White
Mary Lambert, Denise Crosby, Dale Midkiff, Miko Hughes, Brad Greenquist, Andrew Hubatsek, Susan Blommaert

If you ask me what my favorite Stephen King movie adaptation is I will say Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) without hesitation, and yes I know it's not truly an adaptation, Kubrick strayed from the source material and did his own thing, and thank you Mr. Kubrick for doing so. Now if asked what's my second favorite, it's gonna be Pet Sematary (1989) every time, when I saw it at the cinema my freshman year of high school I thought I was too much of a horror fan to let a studio horror movie get to me, but I was fucking wrong - the movie is creepy and frightening as Hell, and even when I watch it these days it still gets right under my skin, the issues of the loss of a child are only more poignant now that I am a father, the movie is still a powerhouse of a fright film which is a testament to the script, the excellent cast and director Mary Lambert (Urban Legends: Bloody Mary). I own Pet Sematary on Blu-ray and the disc has some very minor extras plus a decent audio commentary with Lambert, but it doesn't get into the nooks and crannies of making the movie, and that's where this new making-of doc come into play, Directed by John Campopiano and Justin White, two average horror fans who had a calling to deep-dive into the making of this cult film, a project that started as a five hour road-trip to Maine to scout out some of the filming locations in  Ellsworth, Maine. Keep in mind that they had to do the hard work themselves because this is a movie that did not have a dedicated episode of Horror's Hallowed Grounds to do it for us, though that would be cool, though it would be a bit redundant at this point because these guys pretty much went everywhere and found out everything about this friggin' movie that you could ever want to know! 

The doc has interviews with director Mary Lambert, and the stars Denise Crosby, Dale Midkiff, Miko Hughes, Brad Greenquist, Andrew Hubatsek, Susan Blommaert, the Berdahl twins, Michael Lombard, all the main cast are here, and then it goes deep into the local peeps in Maine who worked on the production doing carpentry and landscaping to bring the otherworldly horror flick to the big screen. There's also are behind the scenes footage of the making of the film, location visits and a brief archival video of Stephen King speaking about writing the book, there's even a university professor espousing some psycho analysis of the Lewis character and his questionable yet somewhat logical actions throughout the film. The film opens with a quote from producer/studio exec Lindsay Doran (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) who speaks about her failed attempt to bring the movie to the silver screen in the early 80's at Embassy Pictures when the script landed on her desk, and then moving to Paramount where she again tried to pitch the script only to have it once again fall on deaf ears, finally getting the green light when the studio was scrounging for completed scripts during the writer's strike of 1988. It's that sort of cool insight into the process of making the movie that I love about this doc.  I loved the loads of interviews from non-Hollywood types who worked on the film locally, speaking about the impact of the film on their lives and their community. 

Reversible Artwork 
The doc runs along pretty briskly at 97 minutes but does have a few slow moments, I have to wonder if it would drag more for someone not too keen on movie docs, it would have to, but then again why would you buy it if you weren't, right? Anyway, I originally watched this a few months streaming on Amazon Prime ( I think it's still on there), and at the time my attention did waver a bit, but I tend to wander mentally when watching streaming movies for some reason, not sure what's that about, but I tend not to value the streaming experience as much as when I watch physical media, I guess that's why I am a collector of physical media. I will say that when I popped in the Blu-ray disc I was thoroughly entertained and properly enthralled by the re-watch, if you love Pet Sematary and have the yearning for an in-depth and thorough making of doc with some cool local-flavor about it this is an easy recommend. 

Onto the extras we get quite a few, this sucker is packed to the rafters with content, beginning with an audio commentary from directors John Campopiano and Justin White, there's also a second track that's a podcast commentary/interview with the duo. onto the video extras we get 8-min of edited/alternate scene, 18-min of deleted scenes that were cut because they strayed from the narrative of the film, but there's some cool stuff in there. Actress Dawn Crosby speaks about trying to buy a car from a local Maine guy who scared her something fierce, and a story of how the local carpenters were a bit taken aback when the painters showed-up to distress the house to make it look work by taking bats and chains to the exterior. Creators John Campopiano and Justin White show up for an 18-min video interview discussing their love of the film and the grassroots origins of the doc and how what started as a filming location scout tuned into a years long process, and I would just like to say thank you to them for doing it, it certainly doesn't seem like an easy undertaking. 

The disc is finished-up with some rare behind the scene VHS footage of the shoot running about 7-min, poster art concept gallery a location photo gallery, promotional trailer and a sizzle reel for the doc. The single-disc Blu-ray release comes housed in a standard blu-ray keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring art by illustrator Alexandros Pyromallis which really captures the vibe of the film, and also brought to mind Guillermo Del Toror's The Devil's Backbone in a way. The disc itself features the say illustration from Pyromallis

Special Features:
- Audio Commentary with Creators John Campopiano and Justin White
- Podcast Commentary with Creators John Campopiano and Justin White
- Edited / Alternate Scenes (9 min)
- Video Interview with Creators John Campopiano and Justin White (8 min)
- "PET TALES - From the Cutting Room Floor" Featurette (18 min)
- PET SEMATARY Location Photo Compilation (2 min)
- Documentary Poster Art Concepts (2 min)
- Rare On-Set Video Footage from Rhonda Carter (7 min)
- Documentary Sizzle Reel (4 min)
- Promotional Trailer (3 min)
- Reversible Art Design by Alexandros Pyromallis

Unearthed and Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary (2015) goes in deep and leaves no stone at the Mic Mac burial ground un-turned, if you're a fan of the film and crave an insightful, well-rounded and incredibly thorough making of doc look no further - this is essential stuff for fans. Synapse have put out a few impressive making-of movie docs through the years, from Document of the Dead (1995) to Michael Felsher's Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow (2007), and now we have this one, quite a trio of movie docs they've got there, hope to see more soon, I love these things.  

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