Title: Pet Sematary 2
Directed by: Mary Lambert
Tagline: Raise some Hell
Description (from back of box): Sometimes dead is better. But the shocking terror that plagued Ludlow, Maine in Pet Sematary is still very much alive in this heartstopping sequel to the 1989 hit film written by Stephen King.
After the death of his wife, veterinarian Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards) and his 13-year-old son Jeff (Edward Furlong) move to Ludlow to rebuild their lives. Antagonized by the neighborhood kids, Jeff befriends another outsider, Drew Gilbert, who lives in fear of his cruel stepfather Gus (Clancy Brown). After Gus cold-bloodedly shoots Drew’s beloved dog, the boys bury the body in the local Indian burial grounds – a place rumored to have powers of resurrection. When evil is awakened, the boys realize that sometimes you should just let sleeping dogs lie.
This is one of my favorite bad movies, so I’ve seen it an embarrassing number of times at this point, although it’s been several years since my last viewing and I’ve never examined it as critically as I’m going to have to for this recap. Even loving it as much as I do, there is so much gristle for the snark mill. Or . . . snark for the gristle mill? Erm . . . yeah. Something like that. Oh, also? Sheriff Gus. That is all.
We open with the shittiest font I’ve ever seen telling us we’re watching Pet Sematary II. With Roman numerals. Now, my DVD box has the word “two” written out. I’m betting the number 2 is used somewhere as well. Three (III, 3) cheers for indecision?
Okay, but for real, we open with a woman in white walking down some stairs into a crypt (is this where they filmed the opening of Tales From the Crypt? Is the Cryptkeeper gonna jump out of a coffin and grab her?). She crouches down to mess with something on the side of a sarcophagus, then skeletal hands reach up through the ground and grab her boobs. She screams and laughs, and we pull back to a director yelling “Cut!” Oh. We’re starting the movie with a movie-within-a-movie? Sigh. Okay. The guy operating the skeleton hands keeps missing the mark because he can’t see the actress above him, and they take a break to reset. We see that the actress is named Renee Hallow, there’s a guy walking around the set with a garden hose to re-wet the set for that extra-moist ambiance, and this set honestly looks like it’s just some guy’s garage. Oh, and Renee and the director are totally fucking. It’s never explicitly stated, but trust me. They’re fucking.
Renee calls for Jeff, and we find out that Jeff is her son, Eddie Furlong. He’s wearing a Calvin Klein jean jacket (hello, 1992!), but for the first half of this movie I thought it was a Circle K jacket. I don’t even think that’s a thing that exists, but the logo looks like the Circle K logo. We find out through some exposition that Renee and Jeff’s dad are separated, but dad wants to have dinner with her tonight and they’re trying to work things out. I doubt that based on the fact that she’s definitely fucking Mr. Director, but hey, it’s not my crappy marriage. (It also seems like Jeff wants to fuck her. Is it too early for Oedipal undertones?)
They start filming again (this time we see that the movie is called Castle of Terror, and they’re on take 33), and they’re not being subtle about showing us all the water on the floor and the electrical equipment it’s getting into. Oh, sure enough, just as Renee grabs the metal grating around the sarcophagus, this . . . amp? speaker? some boxy thing with wires plugged into it, I don’t fucking know – falls into the water and sparks fly. We’re treated to a good 30-60 seconds of chaos, screaming, and Renee being electrocuted in the most ridiculous and hilarious way possible. She’s hanging onto the bars and jerking back and forth. I’m probably going to hell for this, but I can’t stop laughing at this scene. I bet if you turned the sound off and played some Metallica over it, it would just look like she’s headbanging.
We switch scenes to Anthony Edwards in a lab coat putting a Golden Retriever down and telling its owners they made the right decision and he was a very old dog. I don’t remember this episode of ER. Huh. Must’ve been the unaired pilot. Ohhhhh, wait, this is Jeff’s dad, Chase Matthews! My bad. He gets a phone call from Jeff, then it cuts back to the movie set to show us someone pulling Renee off the grate, with grill marks on her face. Okay, but does she plump when you cook her?
We then dissolve to a graveside funeral, and a pretty nice, moody guitar and violin score playing over it. This score belongs in a better movie, honestly. There are photographers and reporters cordoned off from the family, then a couple of them break the line and Clancy Brown moves them back because he’s Sheriff Gus Gilbert and he’s the best! Well, no, actually he’s the fucking worst, but he’s the best thing about this movie. We find out through a conversation between him and Chase that Chase and Jeff are moving into the “summer place” because he wants to get Jeff out of LA. I believe the implication throughout this movie is that Ludlow was Renee’s hometown and Chase is an outsider.
At the house, the movers have six big wardrobe boxes of Renee’s shit that Jeff refuses to let Chase give to Goodwill, so they go in the attic. Is this kid Norman Bates? I think this kid is Norman Bates. He looks like a creepy little shit. The new housekeeper, Marjorie, shows up, and Chase practically drools on her and then tells her she doesn’t look how she sounded on the phone. Really? Because she sounds young and attractive, and she is young and attractive, so why is your boner confused, Chase? The movers drop one of the boxes down the stairs and Marjorie turns into a total Stan, picking up one of Renee’s dresses and fawning over it and talking about how much she adored Renee. Jeff grabs it away from her and acts like a creepy little shit, and you can see in Chase’s face that he also thinks Jeff is a creepy little shit. I don’t think moving cross-country is going to drive the shittiness out of your son, Chase. Sorry.
Chase and Jeff go to Chase’s new vet office, which is old and run down. Jeff walks down the hallway to the kennel area and gets jump-scared by something in a box! Oh, it’s just a bunch of adorable kittens. Um, don’t get attached to the adorable kittens. Chase says something about opening up an orphanage now, even though it was definitely an adult cat, probably the mama cat, that just ran past him out the door, but he tells Jeff he can keep one of the kittens if he cleans up the kennels. Cool. Jeff actually isn’t acting like a total shithead here.
One of the kittens gets loose and runs into the reception area, then the door opens and a big fluffy dog runs in, dragging a boy Jeff’s age behind him and chasing the kitten into the exam room where Chase and Jeff are. Sheriff Gus comes in behind them and we find out the kid is his boy (actually his stepson) Drew, and the dog is Zowie. This is a gorgeous doggie, looks like maybe a mix of Husky and Samoyed? Oh, yeah, don’t get attached to the gorgeous doggie, either. Goddammit, movie. Zowie has some scratches on his nose, and Sheriff Gus (yes, this is how I’m going to refer to him throughout this recap) claims Zowie stuck his nose into his rabbit cage and the rabbits ganged up on him. I call bullshit because Sheriff Gus is a garbage person, but I’m getting ahead of the movie. Pretend you don’t know that yet. So Sheriff Gus sees Jeff holding one of the kittens and makes the comment that when he was younger he thought cats were girls and dogs were boys. Or maybe he said he thought cats were for girls? Either way, the implication is shitty. Fuck your sexist nonsense, Gus. Even though the vet office isn’t anywhere near set up yet (so why did they leave the door unlocked for anyone to just walk in?), Chase takes a look at Zowie and fixes him up. And while he’s doing that, Sheriff Gus turns to Jeff and is all, “Dude, I totally fucked your mom lol” but like, not quite that blatantly. Turns out Gus and Renee were high school sweethearts. Jeff’s slouched in the corner like “Cool story, bro,” while Chase looks like he wants to beat Gus to death with his stethoscope, and for some reason I always think this conversation takes place earlier, at the funeral. Which would be ten times more inappropriate, therefore ten times more hilarious. Am I a bad person?
Chase drops Jeff off at school with his bike, and I can’t tell if this is the same day or not. Jeff brought his kitten, which he named Tiger, to school with him, and that just seems like a bad idea. He’s hiding it inside his jacket, but I’ve had kittens before, and listen – kittens pee. A LOT. Jeff’s shirt and jacket are going to be drenched in kitten piss and everyone’s going to smell it on him all day. Anyway, this little jerk named Clyde starts hassling Jeff, and we know Clyde is a real badass motherfucker because he has an earring. He makes some shit remarks about Jeff’s mom while they’re all standing in front of the memorial for her in the school hallway, then he grabs the kitten and runs out of the school with her. Clyde and his group of shitheads jump on their bikes, then Jeff jumps on his, and Drew jumps on his to follow them. So, I guess bike locks aren’t a thing in Ludlow? I imagine roving gangs of bicycle thieves catching on to this fact and passing through town every couple of weeks, and all the parents having to buy new bikes every time. Maybe it’s even a racket between the bike thieves and the bicycle shop in town. Conspiracy! Oh, yeah, and why is Drew chasing after them? There’s no way this kid runs with Clyde and his thugs, and he barely knows Jeff, so what the hell?
They all bike past the old Creed house from the first movie, which this movie will spend a hot minute recapping a little later on, and up to the entrance of the old Pet
cemetery Sematary. Clyde tells Jeff the kitten slipped and got caught in the spokes of his tires and what’s left of her is in the Pet Sematary. Some of the other boys make comments about the Creeds and the place where the dead rise, and Clyde tells Jeff that maybe if he digs his mom up and puts her in the Pet Sematary she’ll come back to life. This movie is not subtle. Jeff punches Clyde in the face, and it’s both awesome and pathetic, because you can tell Jeff isn’t used to punching people, and he proceeds to get his ass handed to him.
Clyde and his assholes leave, dragging Drew with them, and Jeff heads down the creepy path to the Pet Sematary (that’s what the kids who started burying their pets there painted on the sign, in case you’re not familiar with the first movie or the book and wondered why it’s spelled that way. bcuz kids r dum and can’t spell lol), and this place really is creepy as fuck. It’s all overgrown and dead leaves are everywhere, and it doesn’t look like anyone has buried anything here in a very long time. There are crosses made of whatever materials kids could find, including what looks like bedposts, there’s zero organization to the arrangement of the graves, and for some reason there’s fog coming from absolutely nowhere. And I love everything about this place. I want to hang out here. (There’s also what looks like a cross with a star of David painted on it, and I’m very confused now. I don’t know what type of pet Izzy was, but he was Jewish and lived for twelve years. And has a cross with a star of David painted on it as a grave marker. I guess Izzy was a Jew for Jesus.)
Jeff finds Tiger unharmed in a birdcage. Drew comes up behind him and tells him that nobody’s ever punched Clyde before, then says he’s sorry about Jeff’s mom. Jeff says you never really think your parents are going to die, and Drew says sometimes he wishes Gus would die. Jeff freaks out a little, telling Drew he shouldn’t say that about his parents, “not even your dad!” Like, not even your dad? What are you really trying to say there, Jeff? Drew makes it very clear that Gus is his stepdad, not his real dad, and since Gus is such a terrible excuse for a human being, I’ll let the whole “real parent = biological parent” thing slide, because Gus certainly doesn’t act like a real father to this boy. Even if he did apparently adopt him under his own name.
Jeff asks Drew what Clyde’s cronies meant about the dead rising, and Drew shrugs it off, calling it an old ghost story. They leave, with Jeff casting a longing look back at the “Keep Out” sign posted along a deadfall of trees at the far end of the Pet Sematary.
The next scene we get is Sheriff Gus watching his bunnies hump while he strokes one he has out on his knee. He’s smirking proudly like a bunny porn purveyor, and I’m really weirded out by a dude who likes watching rabbits fuck. He puts his bunny back in the hutch and plugs in this electrified wire-and-cowbell contraption he has strung up around the top of the hutch. I don’t understand how this is supposed to keep the dog out while not electrocuting the rabbits, but electricity does magic things in movies.
Jeff gets home and acts like a little shit to his dad and Marjorie, telling Marjorie that she’s not his mother after she tries to cheer him up about his bad day. Are . . . are we supposed to be identifying with this kid? Because so far he’s awful. I mean, sure, if Renee were still alive Marjorie would totally be Single White Female-ing her, but damn. At this point I’m thinking Renee electrocuted herself on purpose to get away from her terrible kid.
At the Gilbert household, Drew is in the living room with Zowie, watching hockey on TV when Sheriff Gus gets home and tells him to put the dog outside. Drew wants to keep him inside, at least til he’s healed, and I agree. Do you want those scratches to get all infected and gross and then have to take Zowie back to the vet and spend more money on him? Huh? Do ya, Gus? Well, yeah, apparently Gus doesn’t give a fuck, because he makes Drew put Zowie out. While he’s doing that, we meet Drew’s mom, Amanda, who is in the kitchen taking food out of the oven for dinner, but Sheriff Gus thinks this is the perfect time to start groping all up on her. I mean, this is how people get burned and dinner ends up on the floor, but I guess there’s nothing like being an asshole to your stepson to get you in the mood to bang his mom, amirite? Drew comes back in and sees this, and responds with more restraint than most 13-year-olds. He just slams the front door shut behind him and comes to sit down at the table. But oh no! He’s left the TV on, and according to Sheriff Gus, that’s “breaking the law.” Drew points the remote at Gus’s head and clicks what I can only assume is either the power or the mute button before giving up and turning the TV off. Hey, I like Drew; why can’t he be our main protagonist?
Did you want more proof that Sheriff Gus is a total cockwaffle? The movie thinks you do! When Drew starts loading up his plate, Gus makes him put back like two thirds of what he’s taken, telling him that he thought “we were going to tone down on your flabby ass.” What? Excuse me, what? Fuck you, dude, that’s a growing boy. He needs to eat! Sure he’s a little chubby, but so what? That doesn’t mean he should starve himself, damn. So when Drew tells him “hey, I’m so sorry I’m not the stud you are” (no, really, I’ll adopt this kid right now, draw up the paperwork), Gus threatens to shove those words right back down his throat. And Amanda just sits there kind of awkwardly. A+ standing up for your kid there.
Back to the Matthews’ house, where Jeff is watching one of his mom’s movies when Chase walks in for a heart-to-heart. They say some stuff about Jeff not being able to believe she’s dead and wanting to know if Chase thinks they would have gotten back together, but honestly I’m too distracted by Chase’s choice of clothing to pay attention. He’s wearing a fucking turtleneck tucked into a pair of pleated pants, and I can’t even deal with this right now. Did anyone ever think that was a good look?
Back at the Gilbert place, Gus and Amanda are trying to get their freak on, but outside Zowie gets shocked by the weird electrified contraption on the rabbit hutch, and starts barking and whining. See, Gus, this wouldn’t be an issue if you’d let the dog inside. So Gus jumps up and starts pulling his pants on, somehow manages to get his boots on between scenes, and comes down the stairs yelling at Drew about the dog and loading a rifle as he pulls on his jacket with the sheriff star on it. Does Gus not own any other clothes? Is he really even the sheriff, or does he just like to dress up in the uniform and everyone goes along with it because they don’t want to piss him off? Zowie sees him coming and runs off, but Sheriff Gus still takes aim and shoots him. Yeah, that’s right, this motherfucker shot the dog because it cockblocked him. Judging from Amanda’s horrified reaction, Gus is going to bed with blue balls anyway, so that was completely counterproductive. Unless shooting the dog got him off, which . . . tell ya what, I’m gonna go ahead and nope right the fuck on outta this line of thought, mmkay?
Drew finds Zowie dying off in the woods and guys? This is really sad. Anyway, it cuts to the next morning and Jeff riding up on his bike as Drew walks toward the street. Keep in mind, Drew’s shirt and puffy vest (hello again, 1992!) are covered in blood, but Jeff’s first question is not “Holy shit bro, why are you covered in blood?!” it is, “I went by your house, where were you, where’s your bike?” Because Jeff is a shitty friend. Drew tells him the dog is dead and he has to bury him but he doesn’t want to do it alone, and Jeff says he’ll go get a shovel. So maybe he’s just comically unobservant rather than terrible. (Nah. He’s still terrible.)
They head off through the Pet Sematary, and I’m glad that the dog muppet Drew is carrying is so laughably fake-looking, or else I might be unable to finish this recap due to hugging my own dogs for the next straight year. Jeff wants to know where they should start digging, but Drew says they’re going past the Pet Sematary, through a bog or something. He doesn’t seem too sure about where he’s going, actually. They somehow find their way to the old Indian burial grounds (sigh, of course that’s what it is), and fight a little about Drew wanting to bring his dog back from the dead and it being a bullshit ghost story, and Drew asks Jeff if there was even a one in a million chance that it would work, wouldn’t he want to try? You can almost see the wheels turning in Jeff’s head, because this movie is about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
They find a spot to dig, and Drew says he has to do it himself because you have to bury your own. He starts digging, and all I can think is that this kid should be wearing gloves, because his hands are going to be nothing but blisters after digging that hole.
When he’s done, he says something to Jeff about never having anyone die before, but he guesses you get over it eventually. Jeff, of course, tells him that no, you never get over it. There’s a lot that could be said here about the grieving process, but I’d like to point out that it’s only been, what? A couple weeks since Renee died? Jeff is speaking with much more authority than he actually has right now. Also, there is way too much unsubtle telegraphing here. Just dig your mom up and put her in the old magic burial grounds already, Jeff. We’re a third of the way into this thing and so far all we’ve done is establish that Jeff is a little asshole and Sheriff Gus is a piece of shit. How long do I have to wait for this movie to movie?!
Sometime later that . . . evening, I guess? as Drew is walking home, the Sheriff car pulls up alongside him and Gus gives him shit about where he’s been all night and why he didn’t show up for school. When Drew tells him he was burying the dog, Gus starts going on this weird tangent about lessons and that no one is above them. Okay? What was the lesson here supposed to be? “Don’t interrupt me while I’m fucking your mom or I’ll shoot you”?
Still later that night, something comes up to Sheriff Gus’s rabbit hutch and starts growling and clawing at it. Amanda wakes up and heads down to take a look, but there’s nothing there. She starts calling Zowie’s name and whistling for him, but why? Doesn’t she think he’s dead? Wouldn’t she be more likely to think this is some random dog, or like a wild animal or something? She turns to go back in the house, then turns back to look outside again, then screams. Apparently being resurrected gives you teleporting abilities, because that dog was definitely not there a second ago. She and Gus start pounding on Drew’s bedroom door, and Gus is pissed about Drew lying to him about burying the dog, and didn’t he think a lie like that would catch up to him? And he’s kinda got a point, just not in the way he thinks. If you’re trying to get your dog to come back from the dead, maybe telling your parents you spent the day burying him isn’t the best move?
So, Zowie is back from the dead, covered in dirt, growling, with glowing red eyes and a disgusting gaping wound in his hindquarters. (Now, I’m confused about the weaponry here – I swear it was a rifle Gus shot him with, but the wound looks more like a shotgun wound. Eh, whatever, it’s gross as fuck.) Gus drags Zowie outside, but at least Amanda says she’ll call the vet, so she doesn’t totally suck.
Chase and Jeff show up in the mobile veterinary van, and Jeff is too busy making WTF faces at Drew to help load Zowie up on the table. Chase asks Drew what happened, and Drew responds that “some psycho got trigger happy,” and despite the ableism here, I snort-laughed a little. (Okay, so “evil, abusive bastard” is more accurate than “psycho,” but like, hello again, 1992.) Amanda hears this statement, but it’s impossible to tell if Gus did or not, since he’s standing up on the porch. And he apparently got out of bed and put on his Sheriff uniform. Does the man not own just like some jeans and t-shirts or anything?
Chase says he’s going to keep Zowie overnight, but Drew asks him to keep him until he’s better. Then Jeff pulls Drew aside and they have the standard “maybe he wasn’t really dead” debate. Which we all know by now is bullshit. Zowie is a zombie, yo!
Jeff goes to bed and dreams that his mom is in the rocking chair in his room, but she has a dog’s head in place of her own. Jeff screams and wakes up only to find Zowie in the rocking chair. I . . . is this another dream? Because we know a little later that Zowie is being kept in the kennels at the vet office. This isn’t the last time this movie will try to blend the line between dream and reality, and it never executes it well.
Three days later, Chase peels off Zowie’s bandages and the wound is still all gooey and gross, then he listens for a heartbeat and can’t find one. Wait, so you’re telling me it took three days before Chase decided to check this dog’s vitals? Seriously? Man, that never would have flown with Dr. Greene. Get your shit together, Chase. He takes some blood, and when he leaves the room, Jeff gives Drew an “oh shit” sort of look and asks why Zowie doesn’t have a heartbeat. Drew says maybe it takes a while. Oh, honey. No. Jeff locks Zowie in a kennel, and Zowie starts growling and his eyes are glowing red. Does no one think that’s weird? Like, at all?
We dissolve from growling Zowie to a kid in a werewolf mask running up the street past Chase coming out of the vet office and Gus going into the Sheriff’s office. The dissolve is actually a pretty cool shot. So, it’s Halloween now, however long after the last scene that is. This movie doesn’t bother keeping good track of time. I have no idea how long Chase and Jeff have been in Ludlow at this point.
Oh, I guess the whole reason for that scene being there was the cool dissolve, because now we’re going to the Gilbert household, where Amanda is helping Drew with his Dracula costume. There’s a party at the Pet Sematary (what? why?) and Drew needs to be home by ten so that Gus doesn’t know Amanda let him go. Drew and Jeff show up to the Pet Sematary, and Jeff’s mom floats toward him and tackles him to the ground while he screams. Oh, wait, it was Clyde and his dickhead friends playing a prank with a . . . well, it kinda looks like a blow-up doll except it doesn’t have the gross gaping mouth. Listen, Jeff obviously needs some grief counselling. Why isn’t Chase getting him some help? Jesus.
Okay, you know what? I’m really sick of this movie switching between scenes every thirty seconds or so, so I’m going to try to recap this concurrently rather than consecutively.
While Clyde recaps the story of the first movie for the kids at the party, but mostly for the audience (which is fun, but really unnecessary as far as understanding this one goes), Sheriff Gus runs home because he ran out of smokes and discovers that Drew isn’t home, despite Amanda trying to distract him with sexytimes. He forces her to tell him where Drew is, and she says “Pet Sematary” like it’s the name of a happening club or something rather than saying “the pet
cemetery sematary” like most people would.
Sheriff Gus shows up and the kids scatter, everyone gets away except Jeff and Drew. Gus tells Jeff to go home, this is between him and his boy, then hits Drew across the face. He starts going off on that weird tangent about having to teach Drew a lesson again, and then pulls a heavy cross up out of the ground and lifts it over his head to hit Drew. So, I guess this lesson is, “Do as I say, or I’ll beat you to death with a cross made of logs”? Not to worry, though! Zombie Zowie leaps out from nowhere and attacks Gus. Drew and Jeff try to call Zowie off, but he ignores them and rips Gus’s throat out. Look, my take is this motherfucker was about to straight-up murderize Drew, so Zombie Zowie is a Good Boy who gets all the cookies!
Despite this being a pretty straightforward case of self-defense (except for, you know, the undead dog), the boys decide to bury Gus in the magic Indian (sigh) burial grounds, because 13-year-old boys are idiots and because we’re only halfway through the movie and desperately need something to happen.
We’re spared the sight of the boys trying to carry Gus over the deadfall and out to the burial grounds, because I’m pretty sure they aren’t strong enough to carry a full-grown 6’4″ man all that way. They bury Gus, and at one point Clancy Brown visibly flinches when dirt hits his face. Um, did nobody catch that in the dailies? Or is it deliberately left in for the amusement of snarky recappers?
The boys show up at their respective houses long after curfew, and they both seem really traumatized. I feel like better parents would have noticed how freaked out these kids were and been worried that their sons had escaped from a child sex ring rather than yelling at them about what time it is.
Gus either shows up at Jeff’s window and looks in at him, or Jeff dreams he does. This blurred line between dreams and reality is really annoying. Also, I was sure Jeff’s room was on the second floor, so was Sheriff Gus floating? Was this supposed to look like that scene from Salem’s Lot? Well, if Gus really was at Jeff’s first, he teleports back to the Gilbert home, and why the fuck has Drew gone to bed wearing his Dracula costume? That can’t be comfortable! Anyway, Gus gets into the house and doesn’t seem evil, just kind of dumb and clumsy, and . . . oh. Well. Here we are, folks. Zombie Gus rapes Amanda. So, in the original script this scene was apparently longer and more graphic, so whoever decided to cut it down deserves to be taken out for ice cream; on the other hand, whoever thought this belonged in the movie in any form deserves to be fucked gently with a chainsaw. And that’s as close as you’re going to get to me recapping this gross, uncomfortable, unnecessary scene. Here, let’s watch a couple of doggies playing with a balloon as a palate cleanser, yeah?
The next day as Jeff and Drew bike to school, Drew elucidates on how great Zombie Gus is. Pretty sure Amanda doesn’t agree, but obviously Drew doesn’t know about that, even though his bedroom is right under her and Gus’s room. All he knows is that Zombie Gus let him have extra pancakes, un-grounded him, and agreed to let Jeff spend the night. Why they wouldn’t just spend the night at Jeff’s house, which is much nicer and noticeably free from zombies, is beyond me.
At Chase’s vet office, he calls the lab that he sent Zowie’s blood sample to, and the vet on the other end of the line insists that the blood is from a dead dog, and the last person who sent him blood from a dead animal was the last vet. I assume he means a dead animal who was still up and walking around, otherwise this conversation is anticlimactic and doesn’t further the plot at all. While Chase is on the phone, a mom and her little twin girls come in asking about the kittens up for adoption, then take approximately five hours walking down the hallway to the kennels. At least they walked slowly enough to make sure Chase had the most pertinent bits of info from the phone call before they start screaming, so that was considerate of them. Hey, remember how I said not to get too attached to those kittens? Yeah, they’re all dead, ripped apart by Zowie, who has somehow broken through the bars of his cage. The little girls are screaming, and the mom looks at Chase like he deliberately sent them back to look at Kitten Massacre 1992 and scar her children for life. You know, for shits and giggles, man.
After school, it looks like Clyde is about to start some shit with Jeff and Drew, but Chase rolls up in his vet van to tell them that Zowie got loose. This movie is really fond of 30-second-long exposition scenes, goddamn. Chase then takes off and drives to the middle of nowhere, which is where the retired vet, Yolander, lives. This is the vet who took care of the zombie cat from the first movie, apparently. He also has a real taxidermy fetish. Gross. Chase tells him his story, then Yolander recaps more of the first movie and tells Chase that the dog is dead. Even though Chase never told him it was a dog; he exclusively referred to Zowie as an “animal”. Clearly Yolander should be raking it in as a psychic on late night television instead of spending his time making blue-eyed pugs. He yells at Chase to leave, then throws something at a crow (raven?) that is not taxidermied but alive. Then he laughs for what feels like an hour straight while the camera zooms around the cabin showing us his creepy taxidermy animals. I think this man needs to take up a hobby that doesn’t involve this much nightmare fuel.
We switch scenes from the nightmare fuel taxidermy dungeon to Zombie Gus skinning and gutting a fuckton of his bunnies for dinner. Okay then, dinnertime at the Gilberts’. Amanda obviously and rightly hates Gus now, and I’m curious if you have to actually divorce a zombie or if the courts will honor the “til death do us part” bit since he is technically very fucking dead. Here we also learn that zombies have no table manners and 13-year-old boys think it’s hilarious when grown men open their mouths to belch and show off their chewed-up food. This is hilarious, get it? Then Drew sees that Gus’s bandage is slipping, showing off his ripped-out throat, so Drew pulls it up to cover the wound and it’s a real bonding moment. But then Gus gives Jeff a look that is either “you’re the son I always wanted” or “I’m going to gut you and eat you later.” It’s hard to tell which. Maybe both; I don’t fucking know, man.
Back at chez Matthews, and now Chase is the one watching one of Renee’s old movies. Except it’s really Once Upon a Time in America, and the actress playing Renee, Darlanne Fluegel, just happens to be in it. So this movie is telling us that Renee went from acting in award-winners to dying on a shitty horror movie set that looked like some guy’s basement. Sucks for her. Chase gets up and walks around the house locking doors and loading a revolver, then Zowie comes around a corner because fuck your afterthought precautions. Except . . . goddammit, now we’re in a dream sequence of Chase fucking his wife. She tells him she can come back, we see boobs, then Renee has that goddamn dog’s head again. So, does that count as bestiality? Asking for a friend. Chase wakes up(?) to find Zowie on top of him (take a second to thank the flying spaghetti monster that Chase still has his pants on so most likely was not actually fucking the dog in his sleep), taking a bite out of his arm. They have a pillow fight and Zowie jumps through a window, which conveniently shatters for him instead of knocking him out cold or slicing his jugular. Zowie runs off into the night, leaving Chase to clean up the feathers that their pillow fight hath wrought. Rude.
Next day, more foreshadowing conversation between Drew and Jeff to show us that Jeff is thinking about resurrecting his mom. How is Drew not picking up on this?! Drew starts to ride his bike home, then sees Clyde tearing after Jeff on his motorbike. Later on, people will call this thing a motorcycle, and I will laugh til I cry. Clyde knocks Jeff down an incline, then flips Jeff’s bike over and does that thing where you spin the back wheel around super fast and threaten to take the kid’s nose off with it. So Clyde has graduated from being a shitty little schoolyard bully to actual assault. That’s fun.
Oh, but wait! Zombie Gus to the rescue! He shows up out of nowhere (seriously, do you come back from the magical Indian (sigh) zombie grounds with the ability to teleport? Are all zombies really just Nightcrawler?) and pulls Clyde off of Jeff and tells Jeff to go home. Jeff is only too happy to peace the fuck outta there this time. Clyde starts shit talking Gus, telling him Gus can’t lay a finger on him, and Gus backhands the shit out of him. Boy, he sure does like smacking around kids half his size. Then he picks up Clyde’s motorbike and starts revving the engine while bringing the back tire all up in Clyde’s face, and wouldn’t ya know it, Clyde’s scarf gets caught in the spokes and pulls his face up into the tire. Blood sprays, and Clyde is dead. Gus is all, “Whoops” in what is clearly an ADR dub, then looks up to the road, where Drew has seen everything. Drew panics and nopes on outta there, and I’m not sure that’s the right approach. Earlier Drew was all happy that they were finally acting like a real family; in my version of this movie (where Drew is the main character and the zombie rape never happened) Drew goes down the incline, hugs Gus and thanks him for taking care of the shithead bully, calls him “Dad,” and helps him bury the body.
But this isn’t my version of the movie, so here’s what we get instead: Drew races home, grabs a shotgun from above his bed, then Sheriff Zombie Nightcrawler Gus teleports in and taunts Drew with the shotgun shells he took out of the gun. So a thirteen-year-old sleeping with a (usually) loaded shotgun above his bed is a thing that this movie thinks is a good idea. Drew is locked in the house, because somehow Gus has had time to run around and gather all the keys from all the doors, so he climbs out a second-story window and climbs down a rose trellis. But not before Zowie tries to attack him (guessing he’s Zombie Gus’s zombie dog now?), and Gus gets to do his best reenactment of The Shining by busting a hole in the bedroom door and sticking his head through. I feel like Gus and Jack Torrence would be great drinking buddies.
Amanda is just pulling up to the house in their shitty station wagon, Drew jumps in and screams at her that Gus is trying to kill him, and they take off. Hey, look, the Sheriff car Gus starts chasing them in is also a shitty station wagon! So, now we get a thrilling car chase that I one million percent guarantee you inspired all the Fast and Furious movies, and Gus has a sweet, sweet Sheriff’s hat on. Because it’s important to have bitchin’ head wear while committing vehicular homicide.
Gus rams their car straight into the path of a truck carrying crates of . . . potatoes. I can’t even make this shit up. This is how poor Amanda and Drew end up:
After taking a moment to admire his handiwork, Gus goes back to roll Clyde into a body bag and drag him off to the magic Indian (sighhhhh) zombie-making grounds. Now, you may be asking yourself, why Clyde? What’s so special about Clyde that Gus wants to resurrect him and not his actual family? The movie doesn’t care about explaining it, but my own personal theory is that Clyde is really Gus’s illegitimate son. It works because they’re both shithead bullies, and even look a bit alike! Don’t fight my headcanon here, folks.
Some unspecified number of days later, we see Chase watching the news and find out Amanda and Drew’s funerals have already taken place, and Clyde is considered a missing child. Marjorie, who disappeared until she became convenient to the plot again, asks Chase how Jeff is doing, and Chase hasn’t talked to him because Jeff has basically locked himself away in the attic. The attic, where all his mom’s things are. The movie really wants us to draw the parallels to Norman Bates. This is some more A+ parenting here, Chase. Chase goes up into the attic, and Jeff has everything set up – bed, vanity mirror, clothing, the whole nine. Because, as he says, he’s getting things ready for Mom to come back. Jeff tells Chase about Zowie and Gus coming back from the dead and has this creepy-ass smile on his face the whole time, then Marjorie calls up the stairs that the
sematary cemetery caretaker is on the phone, something about Renee’s grave, and Jeff’s smile gets about a thousand times creepier. I really can’t stress enough how much this kid could have benefited from grief counseling.
Chase runs off to the grave and finds out that Gus dug up Renee and threw her body in his car, then peeled out right through Drew and Amanda’s headstones. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a headstone installed that quickly, but that’s movie logic for ya. Oh, and the caretaker references the first movie, because this is the strangest thing that’s happened since Louis Creed dug up his boy. We get it, this is a sequel, quit beating us over the head with it!
Back at casa de los Matthews, Marjorie is sleeping on the couch while Jeff sneaks out the door behind her, despite her promising Chase she wouldn’t let Jeff leave the house. Why are you in this movie, Marjorie? Jeff makes the journey to the place where the dead walk, and have I mentioned he’s wearing a suit? And walking across logs in dress shoes? Seems impractical, but what the hell. Jeff gets to the spot where Zombie Gus is waiting for him with Mom-corpse, and sweet mother of fuck, we’re getting more dream imagery except everyone’s awake this time! Jeff kneels down in the lush green grass next to his mom’s headstone (which shows us she was 37 when she died – fuck me, do I feel old now), but then when Gus sets Mom-corpse down on the ground, it reverts back to the grey, stony ground we’re used to seeing ’round these parts. Gus tells Jeff he has to bury his own, then they share these creepy, proud, conspiratorial smiles, and BOOM! I have a new theory that Gus is actually Jeff’s bio dad. It would make as much sense as anything else in this movie.
Cut to a 30-second long scene of Chase driving and pulling his revolver out of the glove box and setting it on the edge of the passenger seat. Because that won’t slide off and get lost under the seat the very first time you hit the brakes.
There’s a loud noise (gunshot? door slamming? me beating my head repeatedly against the desk?) at the Matthews’ house, and Marjorie wakes up to go investigate. She ends up in the attic and practically creams herself looking at one of Renee’s dresses, but we’re going to have to wait to find out what happens, because whoever the fuck edited this thing decided that this is the perfect time to check back in with Chase, because god forbid we have a scene that lasts longer than it takes to pour myself another shot of whiskey.
Chase pulls up to Gus’s house, and Zombie Zowie teleports in and bites into Chase’s neck the second he opens the van door. I’m pretty sure Zowie is just trying to tear off Chase’s stupid turtleneck (yep, another one), because he survives this, and also unloads a couple bullets into Zowie, who limps off into the house. Chase follows (aside: I would love it if there were a traffic reporter somewhere in the world named Chase Follows), and it seems Gus has been doing some redecorating since murderizing his family. There’s a definite air of zombie bachelor pad going on here, including a lawnmower in the living room, a trashcan fire(???) in the kitchen, and skinned bunnies hanging on a line in the dining room. I would pay multiple dollars to see this house featured on House Hunters.
Zowie’s dead on the floor, which bums Gus out because he was building a doggie door. Ya know, I used to think that was just a sarcastic throwaway line, but now I think he really was making a doggie door. I’m not sure that makes up for killing the dog in the first place, but look guys, he’s trying. Chase demands to know why Gus dug Renee up, and Gus tells him it’s because he wanted to fuck her. Thus solidifying my theory that Gus is really Jeff’s bio dad and he wants to create a new zombie family for himself. Chase puts one bullet in Gus’s shoulder, they fight, and then Gus attacks Chase with a drill and I finally have an excuse to use this image:
Despite my skepticism that Anthony Edwards would ever win in a fight against Clancy Brown, Chase gets the upper hand and manages to shoot Gus in the head, starts to leave, then walks back inside and pumps another three bullets into Zombie Gus for good measure. I’m torn between “Welp, there goes my whole reason for watching this trash,” and “Good fucking riddance, motherfucker.”
Oh shit, did you forget about Marjorie? She’s a full on super-Stan now, wearing Renee’s dress, sitting at her vanity, and putting on her lipstick. Nobody has ever taught this girl about boundaries, have they? Renee shows up in the attic and taunts Marjorie about how Marjorie will never be like her, then smashes the mirror and presumably kills her. You know what the scariest part of this scene is? The fact that we’ve only got twelve minutes left in the movie and this is the first (and only) fucking time it passes the Bechdel test. And with a female director, too! What the fuck!
Norman Bates Jeff is sitting in his rocking chair by the window when he hears Marjorie scream. Cue the creepy smile, and Jeff goes upstairs to investigate. He sees Renee, who tells him she came back for him and they’re going to be together again, and there is no way in hell this kid doesn’t want to fuck his mom. Chase comes home and finds Marjorie on the bed in the attic, with a shard of mirror through her temple. Then he sees Renee and Jeff, and she tells him they can try again and make it work this time. Man, if Gus were still alive undead dead-alive, he’d be so disappointed to hear that.
Chase freaks the fuck out over all of this, and Renee tells Jeff to go downstairs so mommy and daddy can talk. Or so mommy can kill daddy and bring him back. You know, whatever it takes to save the marriage. Jeff opens the attic door, and I don’t know where the fuck Zombie Clyde has been for the last however-many-days since Gus buried him in the . . . place, but he’s here now! With an ax! So wow, much excitement! They fight, Chase gets knocked out, and Renee thinks this random kid trying to hack up her son is the funniest thing ever. Chalk it up to sibling rivalry, because they’re both definitely Gus’s kids. Nope, not letting this one go, y’all. Renee sets fire, not to the rain, but to some random shit she knocks off the vanity, then locks the attic door and breaks off the handle as Jeff and Clyde continue to roll around on the floor. Clyde swings the ax into a circuit breaker, severing an electrical wire, and after some more fighting that includes attempted murder with an ice skate, Jeff shoves the wire into Clyde’s mouth. My dad’s an electrician, remind me to ask him if sucking on an electric wire will make your head explode. Because this movie thinks it will.
Jeff wakes up his dad, because waking people up after they’ve been knocked unconscious with the blunt side of an ax head is super easy, then takes the ax to the door because we needed another reference to The Shining. About half the attic is blazing now, and the mortician’s wax on Renee’s face can’t handle it so she starts melting, because what this movie really needed was a Wizard of Oz reference. As Jeff and Chase try to escape the attic, Renee is screaming at them not to leave her, and “Dead is better!” over and over. Um, Renee? You’re not actually blocked in by the fire; you could easily jump down off of that couch and follow them out the door. What in the everloving fuck, Zombie Renee? Oh, well, there go the rafters and now Renee is definitely on fire and melt-burning away. Bye, Renee.
What I can only assume is the next day (or it could be five fucking years later; who can even tell in this movie?!), Chase and Jeff padlock the vet office and drive off down the rural highway, because fuck this town – it’s time for Chase to report for ER duty at County General, and Jeff needs to go be in an Aerosmith video or something, I dunno, I don’t give a shit about Eddie Furlong’s filmography.
Oh, wait, we’re not done? This movie thinks we care enough about anyone in it to give us a little memorial to all the dead characters before the credits start? Jesus Christ. Well, at least we get a Ramones song over the end credits, so the otherwise-shitty soundtrack isn’t a total loss. (Actually, the Jesus and Mary Chain song that plays during the car chase isn’t bad, either.)
Still one of my favorite trash movies. But whoever thought a scene of zombie marital rape was a good idea needs to be given a thousand paper cuts and shoved into a swimming pool filled with lemon juice and salt.