Jeff (Edward Furlong) is a teenage boy who has just lost his mother Renee (Darlanne Fluegel); he and his veterinarian father Chase (Anthony Edwards) relocate to Renee’s hometown of Ludlow, Maine (home also of the unfortunate Creed family from the original film). Once there, Jeff and his friend Drew (Jason McGuire) experiment with the unholy burial ground (for example bringing Jeff’s mother back) with less than desirable results. They too learn that dead is preferable.
It’s probably the best sequel that came from a Stephen King adaptation. Though it will never win film of the year, it avoids many of the pitfalls that sequels fall prey to: (1) No involvement from anyone associated with the first film (Mary Lambert returns to direct), (2) Having little or no plot links to the previous movie, (3) Deterioration of the first film’s logic. I also like how this one also answers the question of what would happen if someone who is already generally unpleasant—Drew’s stepfather Gus (Clancy Brown)—is buried in the pet cemetery: he goes through a brief zombie-ish happy state, and then turns even more evil. It’s fairly clean of lame jokes until the last twenty minutes or so, but even I (who hate one-liners) laughed when Jeff’s defeated and melting mother wails for mercy, “Your father and I are trying to work things out!”
This is the kind of movie that every time I see it, I notice something different. For example, Chase’s housekeeper Marjorie (Sarah Trigger) can be construed as gay. I was always under the impression that she’s out to get into Chase’s knickers, but then I took notice of the way she’s obsessed with Renee, fondling her dress around the crotch area, trying on her clothes, and styling her hair to look like her. She comes off as one of those unstable-woman-takes-over-another-woman’s-life-while-secretly-wanting-to-bang-her villains, like in Single White Female. Meanwhile, I’ve had five months of veterinary technician school since watching this movie last, and as such I could sit back and smugly take note of the mistakes that Chase makes. He uncaps a needle with his teeth (that’s day one stuff, man) and he hoists a heavy dog onto a table by himself (that’s fine if he wants to throw out his back), and he also slams the dog down pretty hard, which is counterproductive to not getting his face bitten off by a dog that is scared and in pain.
Of course the movie has its weak points; there’s the old cat-jumps-out-suddenly-to-startle-the-protagonist trick, and as often happens with King adaptations, there’s only one person in the entire town with a Maine accent. There’s the question of why Jeff brings his kitten to school with him; he keeps her in his jacket, which he apparently plans to do for the day—I guess he wants to fill his pockets with cat pee. There are the teenagers who are mean to the point of being supervillains; maybe they’re just angry because the best insult they can come up with for Jeff is “celebrity boy.” Then there’s the scene when Drew carries his dog all by himself (the same dog Chase had trouble hoisting), even one-handed for a minute. It also amuses me that Gus is scornful of Jeff for having a cat because they’re “for girls,” but the guy raises bunnies. Overall, it’s not superior to the original, but it can stand on its own. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a passable sequel.