Renee Hallow (Darlanne Fluegel) was a popular film actress who was separated from her veterinary husband Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards), he staying with his practise and she continuing her career in Hollywood. There was someone caught in the middle, however, and he was their son Jeff (Edward Furlong), who elected to stay with his mother, and was present on the set where she was shooting a horror movie when it all went horribly wrong. Supposedly a simple effect, all the water lying around got into an electrical appliance and sent a shock through Renee, killing her almost instantly. Jeff Matthews was traumatised and sent to live in Maine with Chase...
Nobody expected a sequel to Pet Sematary, Stephen King in particular who only included follow-up rights in his contract for the first one because he was assured this would never be made. And yet here it was, clogging up video store shelves across the world after making next to no impact in the cinemas, yet another unnecessary addendum to a movie that wasn't especially great in the first place. That initial movie had been based on one of King's bleakest works, a modern update of W.W. Jacobs' classic short story The Monkey's Paw where an old Indian burial ground had the power to bring the dead back to life, except when they came back they were wrong somehow.
In the film version, what had been horribly depressing on the page turned rather camp, and though there are those of a certain age who will tell you the Zelda character put the wind up them when they saw this as kids, the fact remained it was an unsubtle and crass incarnation of an original which had many more sleeping with the lights on. The main trouble with continuing that was, well, why bother to bury someone else there when it was all too clear from what happened last time around that it was a bad idea? And it's not as if the folks in this film didn't know about it, for they make frequent reference to events in the first Pet Sematary, so you might have thought the well-known tagline "Sometimes dead is better" would have been taken to heart.
This essential illogicality is never surmounted by the way Part 2 played out, so the solution returning director Mary Lambert (a long way from her award-winning Madonna videos already) settled on was to go over the top, more gore, more action, more, well, frankly more silliness. Once Jeff has arrived in town he finds himself bullied by a gang whose ringleader Clyde (Jared Rushton) makes it his purpose in life to put the kid through utter dejection, as if losing his mother before his very eyes was not bad enough. But he's not the sole villain here, as Clancy Brown showed up as Sheriff Gus Gilbert, who has something of a forceful personality but doesn't really go into evil overdrive until he is killed and brought back to life thanks to his son Drew (Jason McGuire) and new pal Jeff making with the burial ground magic.
Exactly why they would bring him back is the biggest mystery in the plot, only explained through reasoning screenwriter Richard Outten was desperate for ideas and needed a bad guy with more authority than Clyde for doling out the death and destruction. It was not as if Jeff and Drew were unaware of what would happen, having revived Drew's pet pooch who the Sheriff shot and found he was surely a relation of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula or any other famed devil dogs of the movies - a running joke sees it continually attack Chase. If that was indeed supposed to be a joke, what humour there was turned out oblique, leaving you wondering if this had a degree of self-parody in mind. Anyway, the rest of it played out with the dead cutting down the living apparently on impulse, and Renee dug up by Gus to accompany him on his return from beyond the grave which led us to the finale. It was certainly gory, with people killed by revving motorbike wheels or shards of mirror, but didn't make one bit of sense aside from financially. Music by Mark Governor (more Ramones at the end, too).