"I couldn't ever imagine ever publishing Pet Sematary, it was so awful." It says something when the best-selling horror author ever feels a book is too unnerving.
- Zelda, Rachel's younger sister who died of spinal meningitis when Rachel was young. Especially the second scene she's in.
She started to... to convulse... and I saw that her face was turned sideways, turned into the pillows, and I thought, oh, she’s choking, Zelda’s choking, and they’ll come home and say I murdered her by choking, they’ll say you hated her, Rachel, and that was true, and they’ll say you wanted her to be dead, and that was true too. Because Louis, see, the first thought that went through my mind when she started to go up and down in the bed like that, I remember it, my first thought was Oh good, finally, Zelda is choking and this is going to be over. So I turned her over again and her face was black, Louis, and her eyes were bulging and her neck was swelled up. Then she died. I backed across the room. I guess I wanted to back out the door, but I hit the wall and a picture fell down—it was a picture from one of the Oz books that Zelda liked before she got sick with the meningitis, when she was well, it was a picture of Oz the Great and Terrible, only Zelda always called him the Gweat and Tewwible because she couldn’t make that sound, and so she sounded like Elmer Fudd. My mother got that picture framed because... because Zelda liked that of most of all... Oz the Gweat and Tewwible... and it fell down and hit the floor and the glass in the frame shattered and I started to scream because I knew she was dead and I thought... I guess I thought it was her ghost, coming back to get me, and I knew that her ghost would hate me like she did, but her ghost wouldn’t be stuck in bed, so I screamed...
- Any scene of the film featuring Zelda is terrifying beyond words. The fact that Zelda was played by a deformed-looking man might be part of what makes her appearance so traumatic.
- "We're coming for you, Rachel. Gage and I...we'll get you."
- "Never get out of bed again. Never get out of bed again! NEVER GET OUT OF BED AGAIN!!!"
- The story Jud tells of Bill Baterman, who buried his son Timmy in the burial ground, and everything that followed. Doubles as Nausea Fuel in places. Not only did he Come Back Wrong, but he knows things about Jud and his friends that he shouldn't: that Alan Purinton's wife is cheating on him, that George Anderson's beloved grandson doesn't care about him and just wants him to die so he can get his inheritance... and as they leave, "...he laughed, but it was screaming, really... something inside him screaming... and screaming... and screaming." Two days later, Bill Baterman kills his undead son, burns their house down, and blows his brains out.
- In Jud's flashback to the story, after Timmy is resurrected. At one point, he's squatting in the yard and holding what looks like a small girl's leg. Now, that might be a doll's leg, but it looks pretty bloody at the stump.
- King waited a year after finishing this manuscript before submitting it to the publisher because he was so horrified by what he had written. Stephen King scared himself with this story.
- The undead Gage's greeting to his mother: "Mommy, I brought you something!" It's a scalpel.
- From the movie: "I'm at Jud's, Daddy. Will you come over and play with me? First I played with Jud. Then Mommy came and I played with Mommy. We played, Daddy. We had a awful good time. Now I wanna play with you."
- Pascow losing his brains on the carpet...then coming back to haunt Louis.
- A more prosaic example, when Louis mulls over resurrecting Gage.
Do you want to resurrect a zombie from a B-grade horror picture? Or even something so prosaic as a retarded little boy? A boy who eats with his fingers and stares blankly at images on the TV screen and will never learn to write his own name? What did Jud say about his dog? "It was like washing a piece of meat." Is that what you want? A piece of breathing meat?...Did he believe it would be impossible for him to love Gage even if Gage had to go on wearing diapers until he was eight? If he did not master the first-grade primer until he was twelve? If he never mastered it at all?
- Gage being hit by the truck. What's interesting about the Gage scene is that it was based on a Real Life incident involving King's young son. Fortunately, King's son didn't get squished by a truck and fell over before he could get to the road. The cat getting hit is also creepy and sad, and based on another true incident the Real Life cat also died.
- Louis's second trip through the swamp and up to the burying ground. He feels a presence behind him and describes how he imagines it to look, but that doesn't make it there. And that freaky, bifurcated-horned face thing. shudder
As Louis drew closer, the floating head's tongue lolled out. It was long and pointed, dirty yellow in color. It was coated with peeling scales and as Louis watched, one of these flipped up and over like a manhole cover and a white worm oozed out. The tongue's tip skittered lazily on the air somewhere below where its Adam's apple should have been... it was laughing.
- The sheer fact that the burial ground resurrects those buried there. That doesn't sound too wrong, if it didn't bring them back as something inhuman and evil with Ax-Crazy tendencies. Even animals aren't spared. Poor Church. Poor Gage.
- Despite all of the terrible things that come as a result of burying things there, the scariest thing about it is that you're compelled to do so and how the act of burying something there makes you feel good, almost like a drug.
- Gage slicing Jud's tendon and then biting off a chunk of the poor man's neck.
- Honestly, the reason Pet Semetary might be the most horrifying tale of King's, beyond all that's listed here, is the suggestion buried in all the events that occur: The idea that if you gave human beings, ESPECIALLY parents, the power to raise the dead, no matter how much they were warned of how badly it could go wrong, no matter what evidence they were shown, they would be too weak to resist. Forget Humans Are Bastards; that goes all the way to Humans Are Fundamentally, Horrendously BROKEN On Some Level, and that our only saving grace is that, in Real Life, there is no way to raise the dead. Because if there was...
- The ending of the movie. Louis is simply playing solitaire in the kitchen as he waits for midnight, and as it does...the door opens slowly and in enters Rachel, completely decaying and covered in dirt. She only says "Darling.." as Louis begins to make out with her, to which she slowly grabs the knife on the table and...we only hear Louis scream and a bone crunch. What makes this scene so disturbing is the sheer unnerving nature it has, complete with the Soundtrack Dissonance. The Smash to Black doesn't make it any better (as does the Mood Whiplash caused by the credits featuring a slightly comedic song by The Ramones...).
- The book's ending is worse; it's just Rachel putting her hand on Louis's back and saying "Darling." That's it.