Cujo (1983)

cujo poster 1983 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Basic story leads to an almost psychological thriller

Seems like people sometimes got killed just to have some action

Movie Info

Movie Name: Cujo

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): August 12, 1983

MPAA Rating: R

cujo-cujo

I’m a good dog!

Cujo is good dog.  One day while chasing a rabbit, Cujo finds a cave, and inside the cave were bats that turned Cujo into a two hundred pound killing machine.  When Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) comes to have her car repaired, she and her son Tad (Danny Pintauro) become trapped.  Now it is a stand-off between Donna and Cujo…and neither one is giving up.

Cujo was an adaptation of the popular Stephen King bestseller and was directed by Lewis Teague.  I remember there being some controversy around the marketing of this movie and the fears it could put into kids…I guess people were worried that children would stop running up to strange dogs and hugging them…especially if they are foaming at the mouth.

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I just want to lick you!

Part of the interesting thing about Cujo is the dog “actor”.  St. Bernards are notoriously friendly and the filmmakers had a hard time making Cujo look fierce.  Special dogs had to be brought in for the “attacks” and a mock-up of the St. Bernard for some scenes.  In wide shots of the dog, they often had to tie the dog’s tail to its leg to keep it from wagging at the actors.

Dee Wallace does a great mother in distress.  Even before Cujo shows up on the scene, the aspect of her marriage falling apart and her affair feels real.  Once Cujo traps her, it does become a battle of wills, and Cujo no longer cares about winning or losing…he just wants the people gone at any cost.  This leaves Wallace’s character against a killer that has no morals or any sense of compassion.  It is like the killer shark of Jaws is on land and looking to eat.

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Please just let me in…I just want to be pet!

Cujo also is an interesting example of a Stephen King novel in that it could feasibly happen.  Unlike a possessed car like Christine or a plot of land that raises the dead like Pet Semetery, Cujo is just a big ass rabid dog that goes nuts.  It isn’t mystical, and it isn’t supernatural.  I think in the novel, King tried to hint a bit of supernatural element with Tad’s fear of monsters and a premonition of Cujo’s coming, but other than that, Cujo is pretty straight forward.

It is hard to talk about Cujo without talking about the ending of Cujo.  *****Spoiler Alert***** In the end of Stephen King’s novel, Tad dies of dehydration.  His mother kills Cujo but isn’t able to do it in time to save his life.  Stephen King has said in articles that he regrets doing this, and that he wishes he had Tad survive.  The filmmakers went for the uplifting ending by saving Tad and giving the indication that the family would come back to together.  It would have been pretty morbid to have the kid die, but hey, have you seen The Mist?  Nothing beats that downer of an ending.

Cujo is one of the better adaptations of Stephen King stories.  It is probably the lack of supernatural that helps Cujo and has allowed it to hold-up better than some of his other movies.  Obviously, The Shining is a much better movie, but Cujo can stand proud…but he’ll probably bite your face off.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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