soon develops. In the vast wildernessnarea behind the cemetery is anothernburial ground—one that does the reversenof the usual job of providing fornrest in peace forever for its inhabitants.n1 he disquieting events begin tonoverturn Creed’s tidy, rationalisticnatheism. At first he simply dismisses thenpreternatural occurrences as psychologicalnquirks, insisting that “there were nonghosts, at least not in his experience. Henhad pronounced two dozen people deadnin his career and had never once felt thenpassage of a soul.” But with every intrusionnof the terrifyingly unnatural, morendesperate and unconvincing (even tonhimself) become Creed’s efforts tonprovide rational, normal explanationsnsuch as that he had been dreaming ornsleepwalking or made a misdiagnosis ofnan apparent death. Eventually Creedncannot convince himself of his formerncertainties—not in the face of dailyncontact with something whose loathsomenunnaturalness compels him tonadmit that there are flaws in his inherited,nprofane view of the world. Thenessence of this view, enforced by andisbelieving college chum and a PsychologynI professor, is that “death wasnjust blotto. The end.” At the novel’snclose, watching Louis Creed return onenfinal time to the sinister ground beyondnthe pet cemetery, a friend intuits whatnthe doctor has learned in horror: therenexist realities “they never toldyou aboutnin the Atheists Society back in LakenForest”nLouis Creed takes his place in a successionnof believers in enlightened reasonnwho find out that the old powers—ndismissed as “superstitious rot” bynmodern science, psychology, evenntheology—do indeed exist and cannreturn to terrorize a world whosencredulous rationalism leaves it at theirnmercy. In this there is little differencenbetween him and the general in SheridannLeFanu’s vampire classic “Carmilla,” thencleric in R. L. Stevenson’s “ThrawnnJanet,” or the young Fr. Karras in ThenExorcist. Creed has thrown off the oldntaboos and fears of religion, the onlynvestige of which in his house is the smartmouthednlittle daughter’s habit ofndressing up on Sundays. Accordingly, henpossesses few powers against the malevolentlynsupernatural, the only “Church”nin the story being a zombie-like cat withnthat name. In a sense, then, these formulaicntales recapitulate their originsnwherein the acids of secular rationalismneroded the inherited religious context,nreleasing the supernatural as purennuminous dread, the very antithesis ofnthe Enlightenment’s promise of a universalnreign of reason.nJving’s handling of the receivednformula offers clues alike to his popularitynand limitations. At about 400 pages,nPetSematary is a longish book, thoughnrather few major events occur. Its lengthncomes from King’s hiding the formulaicnstructure amid passages that recreatenthe ordinary talk and activities of familynlife. This rendering of the dramatic, innturn, gives a sense of verisimilitudenwhich makes the irruption of the demonicnmore fearsome by its contrastnwith the reassuring familiarity of the lifenof the Creeds. King’s characters do notnreally transcend the stereotypical, butnthey have enough depth not to seemnobviously two-dimensional and unin­nnnteresting as the figures in the novels of sonmany writers currently working thenhorror vein do.nHowever, one difficulty in creatingncharacters of even limited depth is thatnthey invite us to pay attention to theirnmotives. In Pet Sematary doing sondisappoints, for Louis Creed becomes ansacrifice to the formula, acting as he doesnfinally because the horror genre requiresna terrifying climax which King providesneven though it means having the mainncharacters behave in a way that makesnlittle sense in terms either of Creed’snrationalistic past or his newly discoverednexperience of the dark supernatural. Thenauthor tries to bluff out the contradictions:nin one of the novel’s frequentnpassages of literary self-consciousness,nCreed is made to think to himself that innhorror movies “the audience knows thenhero or heroine is stupid to go up thosenstairs, but in real life they always do—nthey smoke, they don’t wear seatbelts….”nThis will not do, for habit, thoughtlessness,nand the like cannot account fornCreed’s attraction to what he has everynreason—natural and otherwise—tonavoid.nPart of the problem here goes beyondnthe author’s catering to public expectations.nKing does not believe in thenformula he uses with such considerablenskill: his imagination seems notngenuinely haunted by any sense of forcesndarker than those in the pages of thenPsychology I text the novel mocks ornthose in the pages of the prestige nevi^spapersnwhich, one senses, he wouldnnever mock. His own explanations of thenrage for horror fiction and movies bespeakna mind thoroughly comfortable withnjournalistic and academic banalities. InnDanse Macabre, his theoretical opus onnhorror, King maintains that the upheavalsnof our times generate the taste fornfictional terrors of every sort. Thus then”subtext” (one notes the latest in academicnjargon) of the movie The Amity •nville Horror is “economic unease” overnsuch matters as inflated real estatenprices, while the true appeal of ThenExorcist is supposed to be parents’ fearnJune 1984n