Pet Sematary Easter eggs: A guide to the movie's Stephen King references
Listen and watch closely, and you’ll spot a few shout-outs to King’s other novels.
Let’s explore below to avoid spoiling for those still waiting to see the movie.
The most significant Easter egg in the new film is also one that King put in his own novel, which was written in the late 1970s but only published in 1983.
In between, he published several other novels, and he added a reference to the most recent one, released just the year before.
“There was a big old St. Bernard went rabid downstate a few years ago and killed four people. That was a hell of a thing. Dog hadn’t had his shots. If those fool people had seen that dog had had his shots, it never would have happened.”
That’s the story old-timer Jud Crandall tells Dr. Louis Creed when he first regales him with the story of the misspelled “pet sematary” that’s in the woods behind his new home.
It’s a reference to Cujo, of course, although the killer dog isn’t buried in that woodland graveyard. (Jud was telling the story in relation to a family’s pet raccoon that contracted the disease and was buried up there.)
Pet Sematary filmmakers Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch snuck this same story into the birthday party scene of their movie, with John Lithgow’s Jud Crandall sharing the inappropriately grim story with an unseen guest.
The story can only be heard in the background while Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) is trying — and failing — to keep watch over his two children.
Later in the movie, another Easter egg appears when mother Rachel Creed (Amy Seimetz) is trying to race home from her parents’ house after receiving a spectral warning about her husband, who is in the process of resurrecting their deceased child.
It’s another case of the filmmakers borrowing something directly from King’s novel.
In the book, Rachel makes the trek in the middle of the night, and nearly wrecks from drowsiness. Pulling straight on the road, she sees a sign: Next Exit Route 12, leading to a town called Jerusalem’s Lot.
“Jerusalem’s Lot, she thought randomly, what an odd name. Not a pleasant name, for some reason … Come and sleep in Jerusalem.
But there would be no sleep for her tonight.”
Jerusalem’s Lot, of course, is the full name of the town decimated by vampires in King’s second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot.
That was a small town that gradually became a ghost town as a strange series of deaths swept the community and all the living residents fled, leaving only the nightwalkers and bloodsuckers to call it home. A wildfire is said to have destroyed much of it, explaining the abandonment.
King revisited the town briefly in his 1978 short story One For the Road, in which a stranded driver notices a little girl on the snow-covered road. And she’s not leaving footprints.
In the new Pet Sematary movie, Rachel is stuck in a traffic jam, and the road sign offering her a detour doesn’t direct her to ‘Salem’s Lot. It will take her to Derry, the setting of It, and the home of one Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Rachel doesn’t take that exit either, although… it could hardly end up worse for her.
Widmyer and Kölsch say there are even more King references hidden in the film.
Share the ones you spotted in the comments, Constant Reader.
Pet Sematary (2019 movie)