MY STEPHEN KING TOUR IN MAINE (Part 1).
Everyone knows Stephen King stories are pretty much synonymous with the state of Maine. The master of the macabre and the Northeastern coastal state have met in most of King’s literature and in doing so, also on the big screen as well. Whether it be the fictional towns of Castle Rock, Derry or Salem’s Lot, to a real town like Bangor, it feels like the quaint and spooky atmosphere of these small towns is as much a character in the story as the people or monsters.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve read a huge number of his novels, but I’ve seen just about every film adaptation. While growing up and inching my way into horror, some of those first experiences of terror were with Stephen King movies. The Shining, Creepshow 1&2, Pet Sematary, IT, Cujo….you couldn’t get away from these on TV and falling victim to one on a rainy Saturday afternoon was a rattling feeling I’ll never forget. Brilliant storytelling with engaging characters, unrelenting fear and dark settings that I could relate to being a native New Englander.
The fictional names of towns King uses in his stories are based on real places the author either grew up in or areas that for whatever reason resonated with him. I had been hearing that many of the “shot on location” settings are still to this day exactly how they appear in the movies.
Beautiful rocky coastline, eerie woods, sprawling farm towns, lobster shacks and endless blueberries….Uncle T’s mind was made up. It was time to make a pilgrimage to this bizarre state and experience standing in one of these horror locations that has haunted my brain for decades (in a good way).
The cool thing about Maine is that so much of the state is unchanged. While driving through small town after small town, this is immediately noticeable. *Granted we focused our attention on rural, off-the-grid areas of the state to get the full effect*. The following seemed to repeat for miles: old diner, old church, ancient cemetery, dilapidated barn, rusty auto body shop, general store and antique shop. If that sounds backwoods-ish and boring, trust me it was not. There is a classic sense to these areas that just feels right. Like a vintage pizza parlor that knows nothing will ever beat their charm, so they refuse to go modern. However, the small towns do shift back and fourth from gorgeous, picturesque, New England landscape to spooky and strange. So again, what’s not to like!
I could trail on about how much I loved touring this state, but instead let’s stick to the subject and check out TNUC’s self-guided Stephen King tour:
The venture started with finding locations from my all-time favorite Stephen King adaptation which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Pet Sematary.
Creed Family Home, 1989.
Now in 2019.
Driving up to the house was pretty surreal. At about a 1/4 mile before the house it already felt like we were approaching the old movie scene. I could see the set up of Jud Crandall’s house to the right, the sprawl of woods on the left and the Creed property coming into focus after we began descending down a hill. There it was. The exterior of the home and general landscape are virtually the same three decades later.
All that was missing was the tree with the tire swing and pathway to the pet cemetery. I didn’t feel the need to take a photo of Jud’s house across the street, because even though it was there, in the film they built a facade on the exterior, so nothing about the current home resembles the movie version.
Little Gage about to get plowed by the semi truck.
Just like in the film, the park where Louis Creed and family are having a picnic is right next to the house. I regret not having Auntie T take a photo of Uncle T screaming on his hands and knees in the middle of the road like Louis did to really make this photo come alive. It might be just a road, but it’s the road that shaped a devastating scene in King’s book and the 1989 film that fans will never forget.
The family picnic before all hell brakes loose.
From this point we ventured to the little town of Sedgwick to find the infamous MICMAC BURIAL GROUND.
This was more off the beaten path than I realized and Auntie TNUC wanted to ring my neck when she saw what I was dragging her out to see. The actual location of Micmac Burial Ground is on top of an old blueberry field. It requires some off-roading and then walking up a hill to the burial summit. The giant, somewhat circular solid rock looked precisely the same, minus the evil rock formations that set designers created to give it a ritualistic vibe. Several piles of rocks were still strewn about the area, although it was difficult to tell if they were the same ones used in the film.
Something about standing at the top of these ancient sour grounds with only gusts of wind and a few birds chirping seriously fueled my soul. It didn’t feel like most movie locations where it’s so clear that fans visit all the time. This was pretty remote and it made the experience feel more unique.
As for the cemetery location where Louis digs up Gage and Stephen King makes a cameo appearance as a minister, I was pressed for time but quite frankly its just a very well-kept cemetery in a city so it didn’t seem that interesting.
Thanks for reading about my voyage to Pet Semetery locations in Maine. There’s more…so stay tuned for PART II!