Who Starred in the Original 1989 Version of Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’?

It might have a killer clown, but Pet Sematary has something that might be even more terrifying: A killer 2-year-old.

The scary story from Stephen King involves a little boy who is killed in an accident. His desperate father buries him in an ancient cemetery that allows the dead to come back to life, with horrifying results. The 1983 novel has been ranked as one of Stephen King’s scariest — even the author thought it was too disturbing to publish, at least at first — and now you can see it (again) on the big screen.

A new adaptation of Pet Sematary opened on April 5. It stars Jason Clarke as the father Louis Creed, Amy Seimetz as his wife Rachel, Jete Laurence as their daughter Ellie, Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as their son Gage, and John Lithgow as the family’s neighbor Jud Crandall.

Of course, these aren’t the first actors to play those parts. The novel was previously adapted in 1989.

Dale Midkiff starred in the original Pet Sematary

Dale Midkiff took on the Louis Creed role in the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, which was directed by Mary Lambert. The movie is probably Midkiff’s best-known role, though he also appeared in films like the 1992 romantic comedy Love Potion No. 9 with Sandra Bullock and The Crow: Salvation. He also starred in the TV series Time Trax and has appeared in numerous TV movies.

The original Pet Sematary also starred Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall. He also played Herman Munster in the 1960s sitcom The Munsters and appeared in movies like My Cousin Vinny, Fatal Attraction, and Shadows and Fog before he died in 1993.

Denise Crosby played Louis’s wife Rachel. She’s the daughter of actor Dennis Crosby and the granddaughter of Bing Crosby and is known for starring in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and producing the documentary Trekkies.

Miko Hughes played Gage Creed and Blaze Berdahl played his sister Ellie. King has a cameo role as a minister.

Differences between the book and the two movies

Stephen King
Stephen King | Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images

There are a few notable differences between King’s novel and the two movies that are based on it, as outlined by Slashfilm. (Spoilers follow.) One change involves the Creed’s neighbor Jud. He has a wife named Norma who is a fairly major character in the book, but she isn’t even mentioned in the 1989 film. In the 2019 movie, she is dead, but Jud talks about her.

In the book and the 1989 movie, Jud explains to Louis that the spooky burial ground belonged to the Micmac Indians. The tribe isn’t mentioned by name in the 2019 update, though the burial ground is still connected to Native Americans. The new movie also eliminates a major subplot from the book that also made its way into the 1989 movie involving a father who used the burial ground to bring back his son who died in World War II.

However, one of the biggest changes that the new movie makes involves the Creed children. In the novel and the 1989 movie, it is Gage who is hit by a car and then resurrected. In the 2019 adaptation, it is the older daughter Ellie who dies and comes back.

The ending of the movie is also different from the novel and the first film adaptation. In King’s original story, Gage kills his mother, and Louis then kills his son. He digs a grave for Rachel in the burial ground, and she comes back to life and returns to the family home, placing a cold hand on her husband’s shoulder, who has been waiting for her. In the 1989 movie, things play out mostly the same, though she’s seen swinging a knife at Louis in the last scene. We won’t spoil the ending of the new movie, but things do play out in different — and perhaps even darker — way.

Despite the changes, King has given his stamp of approval to the new movie, tweeting “This is a scary movie. Be warned.”

Pet Sematary is in theaters now.

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