There’s Something About Mary
A Mary Lambert Double Bill
Pet Sematary II & Urban Legends: Bloody Mary
Despite directing the highest-grossing horror film of 1989 (Pet Sematary, $57 million dollars!), and some of the most iconic music videos in history (Like a Prayer, Material Girl), Mary Lambert has never seemed to get her due. She’s worked extensively in the horror and thriller genre, and today I’m gonna take a look at two of her excellent sequels. Lambert’s first film was Siesta, a steamy noir that felt almost Lynchian, and she followed that up with the aforementioned Pet Sematary, a film that scarred a generation of horror fans. I caught Pet Sematary aged about eight, and it scared the shit outta me. Therefore, I was first in line to rent the sequel when it emerged three years later, once again directed by Lambert.
Pet Sematary II (1992) retains the themes of grief and trauma from the first film, though in this case it’s the death of a parent rather than a child, in a fun opening scene that makes the film look like it’s a Hammer Horror flick before pulling back to reveal a film set. We’re introduced to our hero, played by Edward Furlong straight after Terminator 2, and his father, ER’s Anthony Edwards. The cast is definitely one of the film’s greatest assets, particularly a memorably unhinged performance from Clancy Brown, who runs away with the movie.
Throughout, Lambert’s music video roots are on show, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It reminded me of Renny Harlin’s work on the most stylish Elm Street movie, part 4. Sinister fog, flashy lighting, cool shots, and dream sequences that must be seen to be disbelieved. There’s a recurring motif of Furlong’s dead mother with a, er, dog for a head, culminating in a perfectly absurd dream sequence where Anthony Edwards has sex with the topless dog-headed lady.
See? You don’t get that image in your average straight-to-video 90s horror sequel! I mean, it’s never going to rival the original for unpleasantness, and there’s nothing on a par with Zelda, but it’s not for lack of trying. The film is incredibly mean-spirited, with a whole host of characters unexpectedly dying, and some pretty grisly fates for a lot of the animals (be warned!).
Still not convinced? What if I tell you it’s set around Halloween, and there’s a gorgeous autumnal atmosphere throughout? Or that there is —as usual with Lambert’s films —a terrific soundtrack? Here it’s a mix of themes that recall Elliot Goldenthal’s score for part one, and a bunch of awesome 90s alt-rock songs, including L7’s iconic Shitlist a couple of years before it turned up on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack.
Okay, I know I’m biased. I watched this film aged ten, and fell in love with it. I can see there are faults, and Stephen King purists will no doubt find something to moan about, but if you ever saw Pet Sematary and wished there was more action, violence, stunts, and topless dog-women, then you’ve come to the right place.
After this, Lambert went on to direct a film I’ve been trying to track down forever, Dragstrip Girl starring Mark Dacascos, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and Traci Lords. Seriously, if someone out there has a copy, hit me up on Twitter. In 2000 she directed the excellently trashy teen thriller The In Crowd, which I highly recommend, but we’re gonna jump ahead to another entry in a popular horror franchise, and this time it’s the world of slashers! Well, sort of.
Urban Legends: Bloody Mary (2005) is the follow-up to Urban Legend (1998) and Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000), two films that, quite frankly, I don’t particularly care for.
Part 3 goes in a very different direction, mostly dropping the slasher element and introducing a supernatural threat most likely influenced by the success of the Final Destination films.
Written by Michael Dougherty, who would go on to both cult and mainstream success with Trick ‘R’ Treat and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, here we have a series of deaths linked to a past tragedy, each taking the form of an urban legend. The highlight is, of course, the classic pimple-that-turns-out-to-be-a-spider-bite gag.
If you can ignore the cheap and rather dodgy CGI spiders, then this scene is a real gross-out for arachnophobes and ends with a spectacular face-ripping that recalls the ending to the They’re Creeping Up On You segment of Creepshow. There’s also the classic peeing-on-an-electric-fence mishap, the dog-licking-your-hand tale, and a few others. One of my favourite horror movie tropes is “old pop song as harbinger of doom,” and I’m pleased to inform you that the trope is alive and well here, even though the song itself sounds a bit too modern, and keeps threatening to turn into You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield.
I don’t want to go too crazy here, though. The film is clearly cheap, and shot for the direct-to-video market. Some of the scares are goofy, particularly Bloody Mary herself, who looks like an American teen cosplaying as Sadako from Ringu, and the energetic editing renders one key plot point near the beginning utterly incomprehensible (the disappearance from the slumber party).
But fans of low-budget schlock will certainly lap up the fast-paced shenanigans, and Lambert knows how to keep things moving and turn in a professional-looking film. Mary Lambert has kept her toes in the horror genre, directing The Attic in 2007 with Alexandra Daddario and Elizabeth Moss, and Mega Python vs Gatoroid, which I haven’t seen. I hope that one day she’s given a decent budget to work with again. The horror genre always needs more female voices, and Lambert’s was as strong as anyone’s.
David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug.
Growing up, he was the kind of kid who collected rubber skeletons and lived for horror movies.
Not much has changed since then.
His first novel, The Forgotten Island, was published on October 1st 2018. This was followed by Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, in May 2019.
2020 will be Sodergren’s biggest year yet, with two new horror novels being published. Dead Girl Blues is a slasher-noir mystery, and it will be followed by a return to full-blown supernatural horror before the end of the year.
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
Dead Girl Blues
When a young woman dies in Willow Zulawski’s arms, it sets in motion a chain of events that will push her to the brink of madness.
A mysterious video is the only clue, but as Willow digs deeper into the murky world of snuff movies, those closest to her start turning up dead. Someone out there will stop at nothing to silence her.
After all, when killing is business, what’s one more dead body?
Part noir mystery, part violent slasher, Dead Girl Blues is the latest twisted shocker from David Sodergren, author of The Forgotten Island and Night Shoot.
The Forgotten Island
When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.
But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.
For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.
Something is watching them from the trees.
You can read the Kendall Review for The Forgotten Island HERE
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.
You can read the Kendall Review for Night Shoot HERE