It was a childhood visit to my cousin’s house in Blacksburg, VA that scarred me for life. My visits to Dwight’s were usually spent playing R.C. Pro-Am, or pool, or baseball, if the weather was nice. But for some reason, that afternoon we wound up in sitting in front of PET SEMATARY—a horror-movie experience that I’m not quite sure I’ve ever recovered from.
I had actually read the book, so I knew that the whole thing would end badly—but the novel hadn’t prepared me for the movie’s scene in which the mother finds her crippled sister in a filthy upstairs bedroom. As she looks in, the woman rises from her soiled bed and hobbles insanely around the room, screaming, “Rachel! You’ll never walk again! NEVER WALK AGAIN!” As an eleven-year-old, I could handle mean cats and even scalpel-wielding zombie toddlers—but this scene was unmanageable. It was so viscerally disturbing that I had to avert my eyes, but by then, the damage had been done. And besides, I couldn’t block out her cackling shrieks.
When I went back to my grandparents’ house that night, I was, as clichéd as it sounds, afraid of the dark. I flipped the light off and jumped into bed, afraid not of little Gage slicing my ankle from beneath, but of a demented, abandoned woman with protruding vertebrae. Even today, if I’m stumbling around in the dark and I think of that scene, I break into a minor panic.
I don’t know why we didn’t play baseball that day.
Editor’s note: After an extensive background check, we here at kindertrauma could find no real evidence that Jacob Lambert and PET SEMATARY director Mary Lambert are in any way related. What we did discover though, was Jacob’s hilarious satirical news site THE PHILADELPHIA TURKEY.