The scariest woman in the world is not even an actual woman. SHe’s a man, dressed as a woman. With prosthetic makeup. Made to look like someone who has spinal meningitis and is severely malnourished.
Oh, yes, I’m talking about ZELDA GOLDMAN, the sister from the movie Pet Sematary.
First, a little background:
When I was a little kid, like nine or ten, I watched Pet Sematary for the first time. It always galled me that the kids who made the sign in the movie and book misspelled cemetery. I was a stickler for spelling, even at that age.
Anywho, I watched the movie with my brother and sister, who are both older. I wasn’t at all bothered by Pascow, the character who got hit by a car and had his brains splattered everywhere.
But I didn’t care.
I wasn’t even bothered by Gage, the small child, getting hit by a truck and watching his foot roll away in his tiny sneaker.
At some point in the movie, the wife and husband characters are lying in bed, talking. Seems like a fairly benign scene, yes?
As the wife begins talking about her childhood, we see a flashback of her speaking about her sister. ZELDA. Zelda was kept in the back bedroom of her parents’ house, out of sight.
What got me was watching Zelda (that’s her) writhe around on her bed while her sister (wife character as a child) shoved gruel in her mouth only to have Zelda start choking and die.
Ok, so that part didn’t REALLY get me that bad. It was disturbing, but only somewhat.
After that part passed I thought, “Ok. I’m okay. That wasn’t that bad.”
I had no idea what I was in for.
Later on in the movie, after Gage is hit by the semi and the mom/wife and daughter (who, incidentally was on that great PBS show “Ghostwriter” -unless it was her twin sister- and always annoyed the piss out of me) go to Chicago to be with momwife’s parents, the momwife comes back to Maine [where the bulk of the movie takes place. I forget exactly why she came back] and there the terror begins.
Momwife is walking up the stairs of their house [or was it the old neighbor-guy’s house? p.s. the neighbor was played by the same guy who played Herman Munster. true story] and starts to hear someone calling her name: “Raaaachhheeellllll!”
She walks into a bedroom and her sister ZELDA is crouched down in the corner. She comes rushing up to momwife [aka right up to the camera] and begins yelling about how momwife will “NEVER GET OUT OF BED AGAIN!!!” after she threatens to “twist your back like mine”
I almost shit my nine or ten year old pants when this happened.
Seriously, my bowels felt hot and liquidy. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out.
So, I tried to forget about Zelda for the next few weeks. Nothing doing.
I slept with my light on pretty much every night and was terrified I was going to hear her voice calling MY name.
Then, the shit hit the fan and I became scarred for life: one afternoon, I was sitting on my parents’ bed in the BACK BEDROOM of our house, talking on the phone.
My sister decided it would be hilarious to come around the corner and go, “Raaaachhheelllll!”
I screamed, jumped, dropped the phone, and immediately began hysterically crying.
After that, I could not even stand to hear the name Rachel, or I would immediately start holding my ears and “blah blah”-ing.
For years, my siblings taunted me with Zelda-like motions and the occasional “Raaachelll”.
After a while, I kind of got over it. But not quite.
Then, oh then, after a pretty extended period of being okay, I was watching TV one afternoon, and even more shit hit the fan.
A commercial for Stephen King’s books came on, and I was half-watching until HER face appeared on the screen. That’s right, Zelda, large as life, appeared and scared the shit out of me once again.
I started shaking, frantically pushing buttons on the remote to change the channel.
But the damage was done. I began sleeping with my light on again.
Throughout the past few years, my siblings have both done the occasional hand gesture or “rraaaccchelll” to me (well, mainly my brother, I think my hysterics scared my sister into leaving me alone for a while) but nothing too over the top.
For the past three years or so, I’ve been trying to come up with a strategy to “get over” Zelda.
I decided to go with immersion therapy and scare the shit out of myself over and over in the hopes that I’d be cured.
And it kind of worked.
First, I started out simply: google image searching “Zelda pet sematary” and holding my breath when the results screen popped up. The only photos available pretty much were the ones of Zelda lying helpless in her bed.
Creepy, but not the full-on terror effect I was kind of hoping for.
After several attempts at different keywords, I decided to go one HUGE step further: Youtube.
I found TWO clips of Zelda in action. Well, ONE in action, the other just choking in bed.
At first, I watched these at work with the volume muted. The visual alone was enough to make me start sweating and get clammy palms, I figured.
I watched the first one, of her getting fed gruel and subsequently croaking, through my fingers, hoping no one would pass by my office and look in to find me looking horrified at my computer screen.
Eventually, I worked my way up to watching the clips with moderate volume [although I DID have my friend Katie on the phone with me, watching it at the same time in HER office across town].
Somehow, I let it slip on myspace that I’d had this irrational fear of a character from a book and movie.
Ok, so I wrote a whole blog entry about it.
Anyway, one of our IS guys here at work decided it’d be HILARIOUS to print out a still from a Pet Sematary clip, put it in an official work envelope, mark it “confidential” and place it in my inbox.
I opened the envelope, gasped, then laughed.
And tacked that bitch to my office wall, right beside my sweet flat-screen monitor.
I’ve even gone so far as to have mashup wars with Katie, posting pictures with Zelda superimposed on them as comments on each other’s myspaces.
I make myself watch the clips every so often, just to make sure I don’t relapse and freak out at hearing “NEVER GET OUT OF BED AGAAAAAAIN!”at random.
So, it looks like I got over Zelda.
Except for the two or three nights every few months that I lay in bed, trying to force myself not to think of her or her voice.
p.s. The guy who played Zelda did so because the casting people couldn’t find a woman skinny enough. I have a feeling that won’t be a problem when they do the [unnecessary] remake next year.