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Where the Dead Speak: A Closer Look at Pet Sematary’s Jud Crandall

Special effects bust for Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall in Stephen King's Pet Sematary

Sometimes, dead it better.

Whether you’re a horror hound or you prefer the tamer side of cinema, there’s no escaping the terrifying influence of Stephen King.

The twelfth book published by the author was a small story about Louis Creed, his family, and the supernatural horrors they experience when they move into a house adjacent to a pet cemetery. When tragedy strikes, Creed must decide between living with his grief and tampering with forces beyond his control.

One of the pivotal characters in the film is Jud Crandall played by Fred Gwynne. Jud is the Creed family’s new neighbor who acts as a father figure to Louis but also acts as a catalyst for the horror to follow.

He's the one who sets the whole story in motion. He shouldn't have done what he did." - Brad Greenquist, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary

According to director Mary Lambert, Paramount Studios was wary of hiring Fred Gwynne at first because of his leading role on the popular midcentury comedy The Munsters. She says they were afraid people would see Gwynne as funny and it would take the audience out of the movie.

Fortunately, Lambert stuck to her guns and pushed for the actor she wanted.

You can check out the Jud Crandell special effects bust and prop leg in Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film at MoPOP.

About This Artifact

Artifact: Effects bust of actor Fred Gwynne as Jud Crandall

About Fred Gwynne: A multi-talented actor, writer, painter, and illustrator, Harvard graduate Gwynne left an indelible mark on and off screen, treating his cast mates like a family. In fact, actor Miko Hughes who played Gage still has some of the children’s books Gwynne created and gifted to the young actor.

Behind-the-Scenes: The film’s Lead Green Manager Carlene Hirsch says that police officer who visited the set saw this bust of Fred Gwynne under a blanket and “went running for the bathroom, retching.”

Fun Fact: Pet Sematary Effects Artist David LeRoy Anderson now runs AFX Studio with his wife Heather Langencamp, known for portraying Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street.


About the author

Adrienne is a writer and editor from Seattle and is MoPOP's Content Wizard (patent pending).