Pet Sematary’s Church the Cat: 5 Differences From the Original Film (and 5 Things They Kept the Same)

The 2019 remake of Pet Sematary is now in theaters, reintroducing audiences to one of Stephen King’s most disturbing works, as well as the Creed family’s undead feline, Winston Churchill, or Church for short. In both the 1989 and 2019 versions, Church’s burial in the titular Pet Sematary acts as a catalyst for the story’s events, pulling focus toward the reanimated cat’s unnerving presence.

While the original Church remains one of the creepiest animals in horror, the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary took some creative liberty in adapting the iconic cat for its own style. Here are five things the 2019 remake changes about Church, and five things that stay true to the original.

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10 DIFFERENT: It changes the cat from a British Shorthair to a Maine Coon

1989’s Pet Sematary went with a very traditional “creepy cat” look for Church, opting for a feline with a dark gray coat and piercing yellow eyes (poor British Shorthairs are always typecasted). The 2019 remake updates the formula by going with a fluffy brown tabby Maine Coon to portray Church, a tribute both to the novel’s first edition cover art and King’s home state of Maine.

Both looks certainly have their merits, but it’s up to individual preference as to which is more effective at making viewers wince at the site of a common house cat. Frankly, witnessing either cat appear from beyond the grave would be a bonafide nightmare.

9 SAME: Neither cats are CGI

Neither the 1989 version nor 2019 version of Pet Sematary uses CGI to portray Church the cat. That’s right, the feline terrors you see on screen could be any one of several different actual felines cast as Church. In the 2019 remake, a total of four different plush Maine Coons were trained to perform actions as needed for each scene.

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And if you thought four cats was a lot, imagine working on the set of the original Pet Sematary, which allegedly employed seven different cats to play Church. Don’t worry though, the cats were surely paid their weight in wet food as compensation for their work.

8 DIFFERENT: The 2019 Church Is Beefier

Church the cat, as seen in the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, is a perfectly ordinary house cat aside from the whole evil incarnate thing. His size is comparable to most other domestic cats. 1989’s Church relied solely on his glaring eyes and aggressive hissing to creep people out.

In contrast, the 2019 remake adds a more imposing presence to Church by bringing in an atypically large cat to play the role. In an article by The Week, the writer describes her experience meeting one of the four Maine Coon cats that collectively portray Church and says the cat was “larger than most small dogs.”

7 SAME: Both cats are catalysts for the story

The 2019 version of Pet Sematary differs from the original in a number of significant ways, but both movies begin in a very similar fashion. Early on in both films, Church the cat is hit by a truck and killed, before being taken to the titular pet cemetery and buried. Church’s burial in the cursed graveyard and subsequent reanimation are what spur Louis Creed to use a similar method to bring back Gage in the original and Ellie in the remake.

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Although the reanimated children serve as each story’s respective main antagonist during the final acts, there would be no story to begin with if it weren’t for Church the cat.

6 DIFFERENT: 2019 Church Has More Screen Time

In the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, Church only makes a few brief appearances before being sidelined for most of the movie’s duration. However, in the 2019 remake, Church repeatedly shows up to terrify and threaten the Creed family all the way to the end – literally, he’s front and center during the very last shot of the film.

Imagining the struggle of wrangling four high-maintenance Maine Coons on a movie set, it’s no surprise Pet Sematary 2019 makes the most out of its feline cast. Compared to the original, the remake probably has around twice the number of scenes featuring Church the cat.

5 SAME: Both cats smell terrible

Stephen King’s sourcework describes Church as smelling really bad after his resurrection, and both the original movie and the 2019 Pet Sematary remake make notes of the feline’s foul stench.

Worse yet, it doesn’t seem as if any amount of washing can rid the undead animals of the stench of decomposition. It’s hard to blame Church, though. After all, he was hit by a truck and killed, buried and then reanimated as an evil zombie cat – we’d all need a good shower after going through that.

4 DIFFERENT: The new Church is smarter

This isn’t to say the original Church wasn’t smart, but his cleverness wasn’t one of his prominent characteristics. Rather, he mostly acts like an extraordinarily grumpy, occasionally violent, tomcat. In the remake, Church the cat is desperate to survive in his reanimated form and even manipulates his human owners into sparing his life.

RELATED: Pet Sematary Review

At one point, Church puts on an innocent facade to keep Louis from putting him down. In another scene, Church manages to make his way home after being driven far away to a remote location and left to his own devices.

3 SAME: Both cats have visually striking eyes

“Church stared at him a moment longer – God, his eyes were different, somehow, they were different.” This brief excerpt from the novel by Stephen King focuses on undead Church’s visually distinctive eyes. It’s no wonder then that the 1989 film adaptation makes Church’s glowing yellow eyes a defining feature of his physical appearance.

Perhaps more subtle in the 2019 remake, Church’s eyes seem to have the ability to stare right through your own and into your very soul. Similarly to the 1989 Pet Sematary movie poster, the 2019 remake’s movie poster features Church hulking over the cast of characters with exaggerated yellow eyes.

2 DIFFERENT: Church survives the 2019 remake, unlike in the original

Perhaps the biggest difference between new Church and old Church is that new Church is able to escape being put down by his owners and make it to the end of the movie, whereas old Church is put down toward the end.

Even worse for old Church is that he doesn’t make an appearance in the 1992 sequel, Pet Sematary Two, dashing any hopes of him being resurrected again. Still, it makes sense that the new Church survived the end of the movie, as he seemed to have the wits and ambition to do so.

1 SAME: Neither cats are killed on-screen

Rather conspicuously, both movie versions of Pet Sematary opt out of actually showing Church the cat being killed by the truck. Not that anyone wants to see a cat being struck by a semi, but then why do both films show small children being killed in similar ways?

In fact, the remake actually switches things up by killing off the older sibling as opposed to the original, which kills off the younger Gage. If it was deemed appropriate to give Ellie an on-screen death, then it’s a curious thing that the directors decided against showing Church the cat’s death, and in both versions no less.

NEXT: The 10 Best Horror Movies For Jump Scares

2019-04-07 01:04:07

Jordan Gerblick

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