Is this book really that scary?

  • This message board permanently closed on June 30th, 2020 at 4PM EDT and is no longer accepting new members.

notebookgirl

Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2013
858
4,940
Somewhere over the Rainbow
I remember reading Pet Sematary. Might even have been the first King novel I read, although I can't swear to that (I started with the stories in Night Shift, I'm pretty sure, but who knows).

The book has a reputation as being very disturbing. I honestly do not recall finding the book that disturbing, or scary. Intriguing; entertaining -- yes.

When one is younger, one doesn't necessarily understand why something is so disturbing. So, I thought about the book recently after reading Bev Vincent's excellent essay on the story over at Richard Chizmar's Revisited site. Once again, I learned that King found the book almost too frightening to publish.

In all seriousness, did he really believe that do you think, or is this something that is becoming more of a myth as opposed to fact?

If the book was truly that disturbing to him, one would almost imagine he would not publish it. But not only did he do that, but I believe -- without checking, hope I will not end up being wrong on this -- he revisited this dark well again by writing the screenplay for the movie. He also had a cameo in the project.

Obviously I can't say for sure, but I'm a bit suspicious. Losing a child is not easy, but this basically was a book of fantasy. If he wrote about the loss of a child in a very serious, non-supernatural story, then that would be scarier and more disturbing, I think. Pet Sematary, however, is simply a fun book with a cool concept. I think he's written stuff that is way more disturbing.

Great book. And I am merely curious if anyone else ever found the whole it-even-frightened-Stephen-King thing more similar to marketing than to veritas.
It was scary, but Cujo and It was worse!

Did anyone but me find some crazy parts of Needful Things funny?
 

Wayoftheredpanda

Flaming Wonder Telepath
May 15, 2018
4,907
22,094
17
That was the scene, those two crazy ladies, I couldn’t help cracking up at that ridiculous sequence of events.
In a way it’s tragicomedy, the events for the two characters become progressively worse and worse to a laughable degree, all while being dramatic irony because we know it’s neither of their faults. It’s also violent to an inanely ridiculous degree, it reminds me of Kill Bill. Excluding
Raider and Rusk
, all the deaths in the book are really so over-the-top I think thy were meant to have comedic elements. Not just the deaths, a lot of the important events as well.
 

Joseph Burdette

Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2018
95
377
41
West Virginia
Different things trigger different people. This story got to me because he made it personal. You really felt for the Creeds, you wanted them to make it. You understood the grief and the desire. Sure, he's had much gorier books with much higher body counts (like the Stand, for instance) but the deaths in pet Sematary (even the cat's) were emotional things. You felt them. And the final message of this book is haunting...dead is better. We've all had family members we miss and want to bring back. But maybe they are happier where they are, maybe they are at rest. You have to be careful when you disturb someone's rest, you never know what you might wake up.
 

Joseph Burdette

Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2018
95
377
41
West Virginia
Just started reading it. King's style is simple but I can just feel how he introduces us to the gore and macabre. The first visit to the cemetery is an example of that. There is something there...something scary that you don't see at first sight.

And you never really do. That is what is brilliant about Pet Sematary. You never really see who or what is behind the curtain. You never see the Wendigo or the 'force' behind the burial ground, so there is no way to humanize it. Flagg is a great villain, but he has human emotions and motivations, so he isn't scary. Something inhuman and comprehensible like the burial ground is scary.
 

Doc Creed

Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2015
17,221
82,822
44
United States
And you never really do. That is what is brilliant about Pet Sematary. You never really see who or what is behind the curtain. You never see the Wendigo or the 'force' behind the burial ground, so there is no way to humanize it. Flagg is a great villain, but he has human emotions and motivations, so he isn't scary. Something inhuman and comprehensible like the burial ground is scary.
Louis sees a creature in the woods with goat horns and worms coming out of its tongue; was this not the Wendigo? I'm not being sarcastic. I don't remember if it was explicit. I assumed it was the Wendigo. (I'm referring to the scene toward the end of the book when he takes Gage to the burial ground.) But, yes, the force behind the Micmac burial ground is never seen and I don't think the Indians knew what it was, and it wasn't necessarily attributed to the Wendigo.
 

Steffen

Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2015
2,233
12,800
The novel that still scares me the most is Salem's Lot. This is a very close second. The tragedy of losing a child is explored in such agonising fashion that even an adult like me with no children is left feeling ragged and raw. And the supernatural element? Spooky and scary as Hell.

I still love SK's works now, but he'll never be able to recapture the nads-to-the-wall horror of his 70s/80s period.
 

Joseph Burdette

Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2018
95
377
41
West Virginia
Louis sees a creature in the woods with goat horns and worms coming out of its tongue; was this not the Wendigo? I'm not being sarcastic. I don't remember if it was explicit. I assumed it was the Wendigo. (I'm referring to the scene toward the end of the book when he takes Gage to the burial ground.) But, yes, the force behind the Micmac burial ground is never seen and I don't think the Indians knew what it was, and it wasn't necessarily attributed to the Wendigo.

I always thought that was just a spirit or hallucination. I may be wrong on that, but the only time you really 'see' the weindigo is when Steve is following Louis and almost sees it beyond the deadfall.
 

JMR

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2017
296
1,706
41
By the way, does anyone know what's the story behind misspelling the second word in the title?
Also if you ever listen to the audio book. Mr King talks at the end..how he live near a highway like the one in the book. That a Pet Sematary. Even spell the same way was near the house.