What’s It About: A lovable St. Bernard is turned into a vicious killer when he gets rabies. Poor mother and son are trapped in a shitty pinto (redundant?) for days while under siege of the savage beast.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- What kind of name is Cujo anyway? According to IMDb trivia King made the name up which I ascertain is brilliant since it’s wholly original and memorable. If he named his canine monster Rover that probably would’ve been laughable and not in a good way.
- First animal seen is not a dog but a cute bunny rabbit coming out of a hole. Are rabbits trainable? Like there had to have been someone hired to put the rabbit in the hole while the crew set up the shot and when film was rolling that guy made the bunny pop out. There’s no way that they had the camera rolling on a suspecting rabbit hole hoping and praying a rabbit does indeed pop out. Next scene had Cujo chase the bunny, so again they had to train the bunny to run a certain way as well as train Cujo to not kill the bunny, which seems like a very tough task. For those about to wrangle, I salute you.
- Cujo gets bit by a bat on the nose when he enters their cave. Great, now he’s a vampire dog.
- Are bats trainable? Asking for a friend.
- Hey it’s the kid from Who’s the Boss! Unfortunately it’s not Alyssa Milano. It’s Danny Pintauro.
- Is this little boy putting himself to bed? Strange. Maybe Dee Wallace and her her husband (that I thought was Michael Otkean) were a Tad busy. Sorry, Tad is the kid’s name. I inserted the joke prematurely. Sue me.
- So junk food AND too much TV is the cause of bad dreams?
- And he didn’t have a bad dream. This wimp was already scared of the dark and everything else he can think of. Plus his closet door is faulty and opened slowly.
- What in the hell is “Twinkles” cereal?!
- There’s a cereal commercial for Twinkles and the last words for the commercial is “Nothing wrong here.” Hahahaha. If only the spokesman winked when he said that.
- Not that I have a problem with it but why do postal workers wear Pith helmets? How did that come about? The only other place I se Pith helmets being worn is in the desert…in the 1920’s.
- Vic, the husband, gets into bed and says “My God, 1:30!” How did he not realize the time. And what were they doing this late anyway? The scene before this he was putting Tad to bed. Was he putting Tad to bed at like 1:00 in the morning. That’s crazy!
- It’s not the ad guys fault if the product is bad. So the company has a product that is making kids piss red and it’s the ad company who gets axed? All because they ended the commercials with “No. Nothing wrong here.
- And what’s so wrong with pissing red anyway?
- So Dee Wallace is having an affair with a family friend Steve. Now she wants to end it. How this has anything to do with a rabid dog terrorizing a woman and her young son in a pinto is beyond me. If Cujo and Dee Wallace were having an affair that makes more sense to the plot.
- I see Vic’s car is fixed up. Earlier they made it a point to go to some mechanic at a rural farm where Cujo lived.
- Wait, so now Dee’s car is having trouble too? What’s the deal with their automobiles? Either that’s incredible coincidence or they treat their cars like shit.
- Hey the mechanic’s son is Billy Jacoby!
- So the Mechanic’s wife tells him she won the lottery for $5,000 and he seems very nonplussed about it.
- Well actually the mechanic (played by great character actor Ed Lauter) is telling his friend to join him on a “bachelor’s weekend” to Boston because the wife and kid are going away to visit her sister. Broads, Booze, Baseball! That’s a great motto.
- I foolishly just realized that Steve is played by Christopher Stone who later on would marry Dee Wallace. Kooky.
- This Bernard is no saint.
- So Billy Jacoby suspects something is wrong with Cujo but the wife doesn’t want to upset or bother her husband about it but also says he loves that dog. Weird kind of passive attitude there.
- So Cujo’s first victim is the friend Ed Lauter wanted to go to Boston with and he actually gets the upper hand at first with Cujo and yells at the dog: “I don’t give a shit!” Seems like a weird thing to yell at an animal that’s attacking you right? From the look on Cujo’s face it seems he don’t give a shit either.
- Ed Lauter finds his friend dead and he immediately goes to the phone book and looks for a number. I think the number he needs is 911. How hard is that? This movie’s going to the dogs!
- So Vic didn’t think to make an appointment with Ed Lauter if he can fix the pinto? He just assumes the lowly mechanic has nothing else to do but a walk-in?
- GREAT JUMP SCARE!! Cujo jumps at the Pinto window totally expected but not really. The camera is panning to the driver side while Dee Wallace has the door open. She’s helping her son whose seatbelt is stuck. As the camera pans closer to Donna from the back, Cujo jumps at the passenger side window.
- Tad is crying that Cujo is the monster from his closet. 7 miles away from his closet? Tad’s an idiot.
- This is a great premise for a horror movie. Mother and little boy are trapped in a broken down Pinto while a rabid St. Bernard is terrorizing them. Now there’s about 40 minutes left in the movie, so I’m wondering if for 35 minutes are they going to be stuck in this Pinto?
- Tad says he has to pee. It’s dark now so I’m assuming it’s been many hours since they’ve been stuck in the car. She keeps asking him if he has to go real bad. I know there’s a killer hound outside your car but yeah I think the 8-year-old’s little bladder is beyond full at this point.
- Wait a minute. Danny Pintauro. Ford Pinto. That’s quite the coincidence.
- Dee Wallace wakes up in the morning and notices Cujo is just staring at her through the window. What kind of rabid dog is he? He’s more of a rabid stalker.
- Dee Wallace isn’t trying very hard to think of a way out of this situation. She could at least put the car in neutral and push with her legs out the front door. Anything to get away. Something!
- I miss horror movies from this era. Nowadays they would have to think of ways to take cell phones out the equation. Back then that was never an issue. Now it’s always “dead battery” or “no reception.” Zzzzzz.
- I love how this story has the biggest dog breed against the most infamous shorty car model. It’s not like a Labrador is trying to kill a mother and son in a Chevy pick up ya know? They should’ve had it where Cujo rams the rear of the Pinto and it blows up.
- Why would you get out of the car if you didn’t know where the rabid dog was first?!
- So now Donna is bit in the leg. This mean she’s going to get rabies too right? How awesome would a rabid dog vs. a rabid mom fight be?
- Vic’s business partner is actually telling him not to leave because they need to fix the cereal company’s ads even after Vic tells him that Donna is having an affair and that she hasn’t answered the phone in 2 days. What a douche.
- It’s hard enough for an adult to stay in a beat up pinto with no food and very little water but there’s a really young kid involved. That’s incredibly arduous.
- I wonder if this film was the real reason the Ford Pinto was discontinued.
- A cop comes to investigate the mechanics house and is immediately attacked by Cujo. He barely puts up a fight and loses his gun. Typical. But as he’s fighting off Cujo, Donna watches the whole time from inside the Pinto. She waits way too long to try to leave the car and fails.
- This dog sure can take a beating. About 8 whacks to the head with a baseball bat and still comes at Donna. Plus he’s had rabies for 4–5 days or so. And now she somehow stabbed him with the broken bat handle.
- I’d shoot the bitch anyway. And why does she panic at the doors of the pinto not opening. She has a gun. And anyway, go inside and call for help!! Doggone it!
- She struggles with breaking the back window open with the butt of the revolver when the passenger door window was already shattered and could’ve easily been broken into. Plus Tad was in the back and breaking the glass could’ve covered him with a ton of glass. She could’ve also shot the driver window since it is, after all, a gun.
- As she’s reviving a near dead Tad in the Mechanic’s kitchen it would’ve been funny if the cereal box that’s left on the table was Twinkles cereal.
- See! Should’ve shot Cujo when you had the chance. You’re lucky to be alive Donna.
- Wait that’s it? A freeze-frame of Vic running up to his half-dead wife and kid. He was too late to save them so what was his point to being there? And what of the whole sub-plot of her cheating on him? A very weak ending.
Scare Level: Not bad actually. Having a very trustworthy breed of canine becoming the monster can give you pause. I mean, the whole mystique to the St. Bernard is the saving people on snowy mountaintops with that small barrel of booze around its neck. Now it’s head butting a pinto until his head bleeds to try to kill a very effeminate boy and his mother. Plus that one jump scare is one of the best in film history.
Gore Level: There’s some blood but not over the top for gore fans. It’s all done in a realistic manner.
Nudity Level: Cujo’s naked the whole time! But he also looks like complete shit. Kinda ruins it.
Best Line: This film really didn’t have the best quotables but I did like the motto of “Broads, Booze, Baseball!”
Best Scene: Tough call really. I did love that first jump scare but this other scene of Dee Wallace losing her cool to her paranoid and panicky kid screaming for his daddy is top notch as well.
Worst Scene: The film has about 40 minutes of Dee Wallace and an annoying Danny Pintauro stuck in a Pinto. While some great tension and scares were in this half of the film it also got a little stale with Dee not thinking of any clever ideas to escape or fight Cujo. I can’t think of a particular scene per se to call the worst but over all I just with there was more to the Pinto trapped aspect of the flick.
Stephen King References: Castle Rock; Sheriff Bannerman
Overall: So this is my first of 10 Stephen King flicks that I will be covering. I have stated in the past that I am not a big King fan (books or movies) and never read any of his books. Brian and Jim actually like King and read his stuff so I am the most ironic and least qualified to tackle nothing but King flicks all month. But that’s how I roll, I like a good challenge. With over 500 film adaptations we could’ve easily made this year’s Schlocktoberfest nothing but 31 days of King movies but we agreed after two dismally awful years of month-long themed reviews that we we never doing that again. But again, I like a challenge. Cujo has a great original premise of a giant rabid dog terrorizing a fraught mother and a very timid little son in the worst possible small vehicle of its time. You would think that having half the movie set in a broken down Pinto would be boring but the filmmakers did their best to heighten tension and leave us the audience on the edge of our seats. while the back story of the infidelity gave some weight to the characters it really didn’t amount to much or add to the characters’ depth or development. But without it you would only have a 45 minute movie of Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro stuck in a Pinto. For its time this is a great horror classic and I highly recommend it. You’ll have a howling good time.
Score: 8 Red-pissing Twinkles Cereals. Nope. Nothing Wrong Here (out of 10)
For our other Stephen King movie reviews, check out: