Be aware there are spoilers for Pet Sematary.
Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer‘s Pet Sematary took some big swings when it came to adapting Stephen King‘s celebrated horror classic. They caused quite a stir when Paramount revealed the new adaptation swapped an undead Gage for an undead Ellie, the film’s re-imagined ending proved quite a talking point in its own right, but one of the biggest changes in their adaptation centered on dear Jud and never fully made it to the final cut. But we’ve got an exclusive deleted scene from the upcoming Pet Sematary Blu-ray release breaking down the whole sad tale.
“Sometimes dead is better.” No one knows it better than the man who gives that iconic line of advice, Jud Crandall. One of Pet Sematary‘s most beloved characters, the Creed’s neighbor and paternal figure Jud, didn’t get as much screen time as folks were expecting in the film. Like Mary Lambert‘s 1987 adaptation, which was scripted by King himself, the 2019 adaptation largely dropped Jud’s ailing wife Norma, who plays a key supporting role in the first act of King’s novel, another ever-present reminder of mortality and the horror of death. In the book, Louis saves Norma’s life during her final months, but eventually, her illness takes her and she’s laid to rest with love. In the 2019 adaptation, Norma dies before the Creeds meet Jud, but the theatrical cut of Kölsch and Widmyer’s adaptation kept Norma’s spirit alive and teased a more terrifying fate for her through the horrors of the Wendigo.
During Jud’s brutal fight with the revived Ellie Creed, the sinister force of the Wendigo’s influence speaks through the little girl, taunting the old man as he dies, telling him that Norma is burning in hell for what he did to her. Then Jud sees his wife’s face flash before him, horrible and furious, before Ellie delivers her killing blows. There’s enough context in the moment to assume exactly what that means, but as you might expect, it was part of a larger storyline that got trimmed from the film.
The newly revealed deleted scene breaks down the details, straight from Jud himself during one of his front porch chats with Louis. We didn’t get to see their quiet bond play out much in the final cut, but when I visited the set during filming in 2018, we saw a similar scene being filmed. John Lithgow and Jason Clarke sat on the porch, Jud and Louis sipping beers and talking about fatherhood, when the conversation turned to Jud’s dearly departed wife. While he talked about her, he fondled a noticeable scar running down his forearm. Later, when we spoke with Lithgow, he pointed to the scar and explained, “This is the source of great sadness and, whenever he thinks about this, he thinks about his wife.”
That ended up on the cutting room floor, along with most of the Norma storyline, but the deleted scene confirms exactly what went down. Jud couldn’t live without his wife and brought her back in the sour soil, but of course, she didn’t come back the same. The scar was the result of an attack, when the revived Norma stabbed her loving husband. Check it out in the deleted scene below.
When I caught up with Pet Sematary screenwriter Jeff Buehler at the theatrical junket, he explained a bit about why the Norma storyline ended up getting the ax. “We didn’t have the time and space to do a full Norma story, but we wanted her presence in there so the minute you meet Jud at his house, we’re talking about Norma and she’s alive in his character quite a bit, so I think it was nice to have her in there and also have mention of Timmy Baterman and Stanny Bouchard, Stanny B, so there was a lot of things for fans of the book too.”
He continued, explaining that the Norma storyline “ended up sort of pushing us away from the relationship that Jud had with Ellie and that Jud had with Louis, which was essentially that he had buried Norma and she had come back and stabbed him.”
What do you think of the idea of Jud bringing Norma back? How does it change your take on the character? Should the details have stayed in the film, or were they better left on the cutting room floor. Sound off in the comments below and for more on Pet Sematary, be sure to check out the links below:
- The Best Horror Movies of 2019 So Far
- Watch the Original Alternate Ending of the ‘Pet Sematary’ Remake
- The Filmmakers Behind ‘Pet Sematary’ Break Down Their Bleak, Brutal New Ending
- The Witching Hour: Episode 36 – Did ‘Pet Sematary’s Book Changes Help or Hurt the Film?
Pet Sematary is now available on Digital HD and arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD on July 9th with over 90 minutes of special features.