The evil came back to Castle Rock in the summer of 1980. It came in the form of Cujo. Cujo (1983)
PLOT - Several years after the events of The Dead Zone, the peaceful small town of Castle Rock is suffering it's hottest summer yet with record breaking temperatures. One day Cujo, a massive friendly St. Bernard is accidentally bit by a wild bat, infecting him with rabies. Going unnoticed for some time, the dog slowly begins to breakdown and become more and more dangerous. Due to a tragic series of events, Cujo goes on a rampage in the countryside, attacking anyone who gets in his way. One hot summer morning, a young mother and her son break down in the middle of nowhere trapped inside their car with no way of escape while Cujo does anything within his power to get inside and kill.
LOWDOWN - I really didn't want to do a full review/breakdown of this movie/novel since I'll be doing it for the blog Moon Is A Dead World this fall. Instead I'm just going to pin point some reasons why this movie is truly awesome. As many of you know I'm a massive Stephen King fan and if somebody told me to name my all time favorite novel of his my answer would be simple.
Every summer since I believe 2002 I have this strange tradition in re-reading this book over the course of just a few weeks. There's no rhyme or reason behind this, I just love sitting back reading it. Each time it still packs the same effect on me as it did when I first read it. Not only am I a huge fan of the book, but I love the movie starring Dee Wallace Stone. Here are a few reasons why I do…
1) Made in 1983. The year of King.
- In 1983 three, count them three novels of King's were brought to the silver screen. All down right amazing. There's the tragic and beautiful Dead Zone (which also takes place in Castle Rock and features some of the same characters), my personal favorite Christine, and of course Cujo. In the 1980's Hollywood was dying to get their hands on the latest piece of King's work. 1983 certainly was a very popular year for this to happen.
2) The lovely Dee Wallace Stone.
- If anyone was to ask me who were my favorite actresses of all time my answers would be Karen Black, Deborah Foreman, and last but not least Dee Wallace Stone. Seriously, I down right adore this woman. I met her back in 2006 at my very first convention and hate to admit but I was so overwhelmed with emotion I even began to tear up (snot and all) Dee has appeared in such classics such as The Hills Have Eyes, ET, The Howling, Popcorn, Rob Zombie's Halloween, The Frighteners, and Lords Of Salem. Dee Wallace Stone was the PERFECT choice of Donna, the conflicted beautiful young mother who's at a crossroads in her life and marriage. Watching her act in this movie is seriously something for the books. Now I'm not a parent, but many people have said she captured a mother fighting for her child's life perfectly. Plus this woman can scream!
3) It could actually happen.
- Something is very, very, very scary about a story that could actually happen. Rabies is really no laughing matter (unless it's from the episode Fun Run from The Office.) As an animal owner, and a massive dog owner, this story creeps me out. It could really happen. One second a lovable trustworthy dog could turn into a killing machine and have absolute no control over the matter. The novel captures this perfectly, showing even Cujo's P.O.V and how his brain begins to rot, unable to control these terrible urges and how heartbreaking it is in the very end starting that no matter what, Cujo was a good dog, infected by a terrible sickness. The movie does a wonderful job as well, and shows how down right terrifying a common every day dog can become.
4) Real dogs/men in suits were used.
- Ah the good old days of old school. In this film, long before CGI we had ourselves treated to real trained dogs attacking the Ford Pinto. Several real dogs done up in makeup were used for this movie along with puppets and yes even a man in a dog suit! Long live practical effects! Let's see if the remake can pull this off!
5) Based off a great book.
- As I've stated, this is my all time favorite King book. I love tons of his books. Some of my favorites being The Regulators, Night Shift, Salem's Lot, Pet Sematary, IT, and Needful Things. It's just something about how downright brilliant this novel was written. Not only is it terrifying, it also shows the brilliant use of how a series of tiny little events start to set off a downward motion of tragedy. King captures how hot Donna and Tad are trapped inside the Pinto, making the reader actually feel uncomfortable. I can't even put into words how well he wrote Donna, guilty over a brief affair she had due to the fear of getting older. How well he writes her husband Vic, or even their little boy Tad. The movie of course is wonderful, but the book is down right amazing. I love the dream parts, how well eh describes how thirsty and weak Donna and Tad are becoming, Cujo's confused rage, the attacks, and of course the tragic ending the movie didn't go with. King had balls, that's for sure. I also love the opening and connection with The Dead Zone. You'll never get the chills more than when you read the sheriff looking into Cujo's eyes and recognizing him. Fun Fact - King was so high when he wrote this book he has zero memory of ever writing it. Wow…just wow.
6) Mr. Stone
- Another reason I really love this movie is Christopher Stone, Dee Wallace's late husband being featured in the movie playing Steve, the man her character has an affair with. Chris and Dee acted together in several movies including The Howling. Sadly Chris died in the 1990's. I loved that these two acted together a few times, and shared great chemistry. RIP Christopher.
7) For once a great child actor.
- A lot of people think this kid was super annoying in this movie, but I gotta say I had zero problem with him whatsoever. In fact I think he did a fantastic job playing little Tad. Sure he cries and screams a lot in the pinto scenes but come on! Would a four year old really be calm when a huge killer dog is jumping and scratching at the windshield? I thought the Tad character was brilliantly brought to life in this movie and played by for once a really great child actor. Adorable, and cute, making me somewhat forgive the studio in not going with the novel's ending. Now that would have been a bummer...
8) The score.
- Charles Bernstein has scored tons of great movies, one of my favorites being Deadly Friend, and of course this. Loved the opening score of Cujo chasing the rabbit. Almost like a fairy tale theme twisted. Loved the presence of this music which really captures the mood of the movie. Great background music when working! Or maybe that's just me...
9) Some truly awesome lines.
- Of course the novel is PACKED with tons of great classic lines, but this movie features some truly killer ones as well. One of my favorites is when Joe, the dog's owner first discovers his dog after the first kill. The look of pure terror on this man's face and finally him muttering "Jesus Cujo…you're rabid!"
10) Filmed beautifully.
- This film features some great directing (to think, the same guy who made Navy Seals made this, huh!) I love the tracking shots with the credits around the house, and of course the suspense building into the pinto making the audience think they are trapped inside with the film's leads. I loved the POV shots and of course how well this movie has held up. I own the blu-ray and it's transfer is by far one of the most crystal clear ones I've ever seen!
So go gobble down some doggy treats and sit back this warm summer evening to Stephen King's classic Cujo!