Director: Lewis Teague
Dee Wallace Stone/Donna
Daniel Hugh Kelly/Vic
An unfaithful wife (Dee Wallace Stone) gets her just desserts when she finds herself stranded on a deserted farm in her broken down Pinto with her young brat (Pintauro). The kicker is that there’s a rabid St-Bernard that’s waiting for the duo to step out of the vehicle so he can bite the living shite out of them. Yippee!
"Cujo" is based on one of Stephen King’s early novels. I haven’t read the book but I can safely say that the movie probably doesn’t live up to it.
First off, I’m all for character development but this puppy just dragged a little bit too much for my liking. It takes like an hour to finally get going! What made it even more painful to watch was that I had trouble caring about the characters themselves and their journey. I couldn’t sympathize with the cheating wife (Wallace Stone), the whiny kid (Pintauro), the pushover husband (Hugh Kelly) or Donna’s lover (Stone) who looks like he has cheese on his balls (puke). I wanted them all to become “Scooby-Snacks” and therefore the first hour of the flick didn’t mean much to me.
The film also failed me on a story level. For example, I hated the way Steve’s (Stone) character arc ended (he’s spoken about). He deserved a worse fate and we certainly deserved to see him chewed to “Kibbles 'n Bits”! Another no-no would have to be the dumb-arse character decisions. Like locking a screen door to keep a rabid dog out (smart move, Einstein) or finding your dead friend and instead of going straight for the gun, you wander around looking for a damn phone. But my fav stupid move was having Donna NOT shoot the dog once he was finally down. I know, I know… the killer always has to come back for seconds (that slasher rule applies to canines too, I guess) but it made the heroine look like a really dumb beeyatch.
On a positive note, the film’s polished directing and its last half-hour made it kind of worthwhile. Lewis Teague captures the rural surroundings with a penchant towards atmosphere and makes the final thirty minutes pretty exhilarating. There’s nothing like seeing a psycho St-Bernard slam his head against a car door in rage to get my blood pumping. I also dug the themes which the movie brought up (which I hear are more prominent in the book). The first being that some nightmares do come true and the second being karma; where even though we atone for our sins, they still come back to bite us in the ass. In Donna’s case, she shouldn’t have cheated on her boy with the town’s “man-whore” and her punishment for that is having a rabid pooch hunting her down. Kind of liked that angle.
"Cujo" does go about it the right way. It takes the time to build its characters and then tosses them in a dark situation. Unfortunately for me, I just didn’t like the characters or the dumb things they did. I was rooting for the pup to eat them the whole way. Maybe I was feeling cold hearted when I saw the flick…I don’t know…EAT THEM CUJO! EAT THEM ALL GODAMMIT!
Bloody dog bites and Christopher Stone’s beard.
Dee Wallace Stone (Donna) hits all of the right emotional notes but alas, I just didn’t like who she played...a cheating bitch. Danny Pintauro (Tad) also does well but I’m just not too fond of kids crying, it irritates me so he kind of tested my nerves. Daniel Hugh Kelly (Vic) gives a decent showing as the cuckold husband, I felt bad for the guy…poor chump. Christopher Stone (Steve), in my opinion, is totally miscast as the town’s “hot stuff”. Shave the beard dude and by the way, it’s called a SHOWER…look into it.
T & A
Christopher Stone shirtless…urg…no female stuff here worth mentioning…dammit!
Teague showcases some really nice shots. I loved the slow motion upside down shot of the kid jumping on his bed or the shot of the family at the kitchen table, separated by the door windows…very symbolic. He also slaps in some kool atmosphere (loved the fog scene) and handles his suspense well. Good show but it's too bad the script wasn’t up to par.
The “Cujo” theme by Charles Bernstein is creepy enough and effective.
Maybe you’ll like the characters more than I did, but I just couldn’t warm up to them. That lessened the film’s impact on me BIG TIME! Cujo is still worth a pat on the back for its thrilling last half-hour but it's really too bad that the whole of the film wasn’t tight enough. More rabid dog attacks; less dumb moves and more likeable characters would have done the trick. Sit doggie…sit…
Five St-Bernards were used for the film. They also used a mechanical head and a dude in a dog suit.
Cujo is an ancient Indian term that means: unstoppable force.
Stephen King had a drug/alcohol problem at the time that he wrote "Cujo". I read in a few interviews that he doesn’t remember writing the book.