Cujo (1983)

MAY 27, 2007


I can’t recall if I ever saw Cujo in its entirety. It seems like some scenes I have seen like 20 times (particularly the one where Ed Lauter and his Ricky Jay-ish friend get drunk and scare Cujo), while other parts I felt I had never seen at all (like Dee Wallace’s affair with the handyman). And still other parts I wish I still hadn’t seen, like the one where the kid attempts to cheer up his parents by making Jaws references. Not cute, guys.

But I know for sure that it was the first time I saw it projected in someone’s backyard.

Yes, a friend of a friend has his own little backyard theater, and I tagged along for a viewing of the film. The print was quite well preserved (though it was cropped to 1.33:1) and had a trailer for REVENGE of the Jedi attached to it! Sweet. It made me think of a certain section in Kevin Murphy’s outstanding book “A Year at the Movies”, which chronicled his attempts to go see a movie every day for a year. One might assume I stole the idea for this blog from him, but I would like to point out that A. His experiment was only a year, whereas I intend to do this until I die or forget to do it., 2. All of his movies were theatrically screened or at least seen in some sort of public space (like an airplane), and D. He would see the same movie multiple times. I think I counted like 9 screenings of Jurassic Park III alone. Also he charged people for his stories/reviews! The bastard! Then again, if I was even a tenth as funny as he was I’d probably be in a position to charge for this too.

Anyway, back to Cujo. It’s definitely one of the better King adaptations (that did not involve Romero or Darabont), so there’s something. I never read the book, but I do know the ending was changed so as not to be awesome (i.e. the kid now lives). I also know the book was partially told from the dog’s perspective, a strange idea which Lewis Teague make a valiant effort to retain. Maybe I’ll read it over the summer.

Several times during the film, I found myself wondering if the film was actually directed by Victor Salva. Throughout the running time, no less than 4 male characters are seen shirtless (including the young kid, who also goes sans pants for the final third) and yet during the sex scene, Dee Wallace is not only not nude, but actually wearing a GIANT RED SWEATER. Given that a major plot point hinges on the fact that it’s the peak of hot summer, why the hell she would have a sweater on is beyond me.

But whatever minor problems the film may have, at least Cujo always looks threatening once he is rabid, unlike the barely interested and occasionally happy looking dogs of The Breed.

In closing, I would like to say that I wish all films featured subplots about ad campaigns for breakfast cereal.

What say you?


  1. Cujo didn't work for me because the book and the movie understood neither rabies or dogs. They reminded me of the "expert" speaking before a crowd making errant statements and smiling, thinking himself clever, unaware he has just made himself a fool. If a meteor had landed in Cujo's yard and turned the pooch into something the plot needed ... that would have given the writer the leeway to abandon things rabies and things dog. It reminded me of a Boris Karloff movie where a brain transplant was central to plot and the surprise was the recipient gradually became the donor. Apparently, it was believed, in those times, the brain was an organ, like a kidney or a lung and identity was attached to facial features instead of the brain. This same kind of erroneous thinking regarding dogs and rabies ruins Cujo for me. Not saying it isn't a horrific book or film, only that it asks - in a genre that requires the suspension of disbelief - to reinvent reality from the ground up. I can't get there from here.
    Hated the movie and the book for that reason.

  2. "Throughout the running time, no less than 4 male characters are seen shirtless (including the young kid, who also goes sans pants for the final third) and yet during the sex scene, Dee Wallace is not only not nude, but actually wearing a GIANT RED SWEATER." Classic, just classic.

  3. Cool review. I've always enjoyed this one, though it's far from flawless. The novel is one of my favorites from King.

    LMAO at the Victor Salva/GIANT RED SWEATER lines, BTW.

    Great stuff, man.


  4. There is a reason the dog does not follow the rabies conventions, at least in the book. The book strongly implies that the dog does not really have rabies, but is actually possessed by the spirit of the first serial killer the psychic catches in the dead zone. at least that's what I remember anyways.

  5. I always liked the grittiness of this movie.
    I mean the director REALLYmade it looked like Dee Wallace ( whom I love), and her child
    were seriously being threatened in her Pinto.
    They both did awesome acting jobs. It looked so realistic for it's time. I wonder what a remake would look like? Cudos to Cujo too!! What a job they did with that dog! Would have liked to seen a little more gore though.


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