I love the story. It is so much more than just a goofy horror story, and definitely by today’s standards, the gore in the movie isn’t gratuitous. There is a lot of great suspense, atmosphere, and, perhaps most importantly, an investment in the characters that sees you through to the end, despite your chills. I would put Pet Sematary up there with the likes of Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, except that Poltergeist’s characters have more easily likeable charm (probably due to it being a Spielberg movie in sheep’s clothing).
The movie is a decent stand-alone version of the story, but there are aspects of it that make more sense if you’ve read the book. That’s true of many adaptations, but the more you rely on viewers having read the book, the more likely you are to have confusion and plotholes for those who didn’t.
Despite its flaws, or even because of its flaws, it deserves to be studied and discussed.
If you haven’t seen or read it, I recommend the book over the movie, but both are pretty good. If you would like a nice medium between the two (slightly short than the book but cuts out less than the movie), check out this BBC radio play from 1997. The actors are spectacular, although I’m not crazy about Gage because he sounds too old in my mind.
Whatever you do, do NOT see the sequel movie.
*All pictures, video clips, and other media belong to their respective owners (Stephen King, Mary Lambert, etc). None of the images or sounds belong to me.