Monday, December 3, 2012

A Freddy In Space Exclusive Interview With The Makers Of The Upcoming Documentary 'Unearthed & Untold : The Path To Pet Sematary'!


As a big time fan of Pet Sematary, the recent announcement that two filmmakers were working on a comprehensive documentary about the making of the film immediately caught my attention, and got me incredibly excited.  The film has never really been given all that much in terms of special features, even on the recent Blu-ray, which just rehashed the features from the previous DVD release.  So friends and Pet Sematary super fans John Campopiano and Justin White decided to take matters into their own hands, and tell the untold story of the making of one of their favorite horror movies.

I had the chance to catch up with the boys this past weekend, and I conducted a little interview, primarily with John, to dig deeper into what exactly we can expect once this documentary is available for consumption, which should be at some point next year.  So listen up, PetHeads!!

- Let's kick things off with the obvious first question; Why Pet Sematary?  What is it about that movie that made you want to spend so much of your time telling the story of its creation?

Pet Sematary goes largely unnoticed by your average horror fan. PS approached the horror genre from a different angle: less gore, more visceral terror. In all of its campiness, the film requires the viewer to experience horror in a much more personal way. Most of us all know what it's like to lose someone we know. PS bridges the reality of death with the fantastical imagination of Stephen King. Humor, beauty, grief, horror, gore, camp, it's all packed into this highly unique story. For a long time Justin and I felt PS has not received the treatment it deserves by way of a "making of" and so who better to tackle such a project than two huge die-hard fans of the film. 

- From what I've read about the project, Unearthed & Untold is not only going to be the ultimate 'making of' feature for the film, but you also set out to explore the impact the movie had on the shooting location of Maine, and on the locals that helped bring it to life.  Can you tell us a bit about that?

The PS production was intimately entwined with local Mainers. Furniture store owners, funeral home directors, mason workers, drivers, caterers, local actors, handymen, etc, were all involved in bringing King's vision to the screen. PS isn't unique in this way: most films shot on location will undoubtedly have a lot of local flavor injected into it. How often these folks are acknowledged is another story. We're aiming to tell some of their stories and explore the ways in which the film impacted the local economy and even launched careers for some of those involved. Telling the story of PS without providing a generous serving of local flavor would be a real shame. We're confident that we'll provide viewers with a balanced mixture of both: local history meets a horror classic.

We are striving to have this be the ultimate making of for the film, although as you can imagine it's impossible to cover it all. We're trying to capture the stories, images, video, relics, etc, of the film that fans want to see.

 - In another interview you mentioned that you were initially compiling behind the scenes information about the movie for a potential written piece, possibly for a magazine or even a blog.  At what point did the light bulb go off that you guys needed to think bigger, and go ahead and film an entire documentary?

Well, Justin convinced me that not only would we reach more people if it were in film format (as opposed to written) but that with his background in video work we had the opportunity to produce something really fun and slick. The light bulb started getting warm at that point. Then, as we began uncovering materials, photographs, talking to more and more people, etc, we realized this really should be filmed. In many ways this whole thing has evolved organically. We never envisioned that we would still be working on this two years later nor that it would evolve the way it has. We've sat down with everyone from Mary Lambert to the local Maine couple whose son almost snagged the role of Gage. We're confident that there will be something here for everyone: Horror buffs, PetHeads, Stephen King die-hards, or even the average New Englander interested in a quirky piece of local history. 

- It seems like you really dug up anyone and everyone that fans would be interested to hear from, which really makes me excited about the documentary.  Any chance you were able to track down any of the owners of the cats that played Church, of which I believe there were seven?

Yes, we did. They won't be featured on camera, however, they provided us with some fantastic behind-the-scenes photographs of the cats and a couple of their memorable quotes about the film will be featured. We're not quite sure how we're going to do that (feature quotes/memories of those who won't be seen on camera) but rest assured we'll come up with something good.

 - Is there anyone you tried to track down that you ended up not being able to get in contact with?  Or did everything go pretty smoothly on that front?

There have been people that took months and months to actually reach but, all in all, we've been very successful and we're really thankful for that.

- One of the biggest elements that of course cannot be included in the documentary, at least in the same way as the other actors, is Fred Gwynne, who unfortunately passed away prior to even the Pet Sematary DVD featurettes being filmed.  As such, we've kinda never heard anything from him about the movie.  What kind of presence is he going to have in the documentary?  Did you dig up any behind the scenes photos of him, or hear any great on set stories about him?

Fred will be represented through behind-the-scenes footage, photos, and of course many cast members reflect and share personal stories about Fred. We've also been communicating with Fred's widow who also supports the project.

- How about Stephen King?  Was there any attempt to get in touch with him, or is that simply impossible at this point?

King is aware of our documentary and we're working on getting him involved in some capacity.

- Let's take a break from the interview for a second and discuss Zelda.  Does she still give you nightmares, like she does me?!

Ha! Zelda did for years. The strangest parts of PS scared me as a kid: the shot of Spot behind the hanging laundry, Zelda laughing while young Rachel was on the stairs, Miko on the phone with Dale; "Now I want to play with you." Mary did a brilliant job bridging sadness and fear. In terms of Zelda, though, after spending a good amount of time with Andrew Hubatsek I don't find Zelda scary anymore :) 

Yea, I met him at a recent Monster Mania convention and I was delighted to see how nice he was, and how sort of surprised he was that people are so scared of Zelda.  That said, the character still scares the shit out of me!

- Another element you dig heavily into in the documentary are the shooting locations, which you guys visited.  Did you find that many of the locations look very much like they did back in the '80s?

In many ways they haven't changed much. This part of the documentary has actually been rather exhausting. We've utilized just about every method you can think of to find and document the filming locations. Seeing the filming locations from any film (whether I like it or not) is something I really enjoy. I think many other horror fans feel the same way, too. It brings the film to life in a unique way. 

- Well, it's all about kinda being a part of a movie you love, and feeling like you're there inside of the movie itself.  Which, on a larger scale, is what you guys have done for yourselves with this documentary.  How does it feel that you've essentially now become a part of Pet Sematary history?  Has your love for the movie grown even stronger?

Watching the film now certainly has a different effect on us. I don't think Justin has watched the film all of the way through since we started this. I've watched it many times, especially since the Blu-ray release, and it's still just as special as it was before we started this. The only difference now is that in almost every scene there is something uniquely familiar- whether it be a filming location, or a memory of spending time with cast & crew, or some little-known fact that we've uncovered along the way. The film has special meaning for me now- no question. 

- I know a lot of fans are probably wondering how comprehensive and lengthy the documentary is going to be.  Do you have any rough idea of about how long it's going to run, and how much content you're going to pack onto the inevitable DVD?

Of course this could always change, but as of now fans can expect it to clock in around 60 minutes, perhaps a bit longer. In many ways our initial goal was not to tell every story there is, show every behind-the-scenes photograph, etc. Such an endeavor would be impossible. What we did set out to do and have continued to do is showcase the voices from the film that have gone unheard, show the cast members people haven't seen before, share the behind-the-scenes photos and footage most people have never seen before, things like that. No doubt there will be stories and information about the film that no one has heard before. But the real goal is to celebrate this film in a way that has never been done before. I think we're definitely succeeding.

- It wasn't until earlier this year that I saw Pet Sematary Two for the first time, which I found to be a very fun and totally underrated sequel.  Can we get your thoughts on that movie, before we round out the interview here?

Pet Sematary Two is interesting because Mary directed it. She's mentioned publicly before that she had other ideas for it. She wanted to pick back up with the Creed family and see what happened to Ellie Creed. Seeing as though I love when sequels harken back to the original, I would have enjoyed seeing something like that. Paramount had other ideas. The sequel that was made is much different from the original. I always enjoyed Clancy Brown's performance in it. I rarely see the film, though, and we won't be covering it at all in our documentary. 

- One last question.  If you could give any other horror movie the same treatment you've spent the last couple years giving Pet Sematary, what movie would it be and why?

I'd love to see a retrospective done on Stephen King's IT. I know it was only a TV miniseries - and some could (rightfully) argue that the 2nd half isn't nearly as strong, but I think it's a very effective film and, as far as I know, nothing has been done in terms of cast reunions, interviews with any of the 7 kids. Though Jonathan Brandis and John Ritter are gone, I'd still love to see a project like that come to life.

- As would I!  Anything else you'd like Pet Sematary fans to know about Unearthed & Untold, in closing here?

Just that Justin and I both appreciate the outpouring of support we've received so far. Fans should keep checking in to our Facebook page for updates and news. We update it fairly regularly and, in fact, some announcements will be coming later in December / early January! 


 You can learn more about the project, and keep up to date on all the latest goings on, by following the Unearthed & Untold Facebook fan page.  Over there you can see a listing of all the cast and crew members who will be involved in the documentary, and as John said, there will be big announcements posted there real soon.  So be sure to go give it a 'like', if you're interested in the film.  I'll of course keep you posted about it on here too!

1 comment:

Girl on Gore said...

What a fantastic interview! Thanks for sharing! You know, this really brings Pet Cemetery back for me, admittedly a movie I have forgotten for awhile. I remember it truly frightened me when I was younger and I will certainly be revisiting it soon! Can't wait to see the doc!