Cujo (1983)

Directed by: Lewis Teague

Written by: Don Carlos Dunaway & Lauren Currier
Novel by Stephen King


Dee Wallace Stone .... Donna Trenton
Danny Pintauro .... Tad Trenton
Daniel Hugh Kelly .... Vic Trenton
Christopher Stone .... Steve Kemp
Ed Lauter .... Joe Camber
Kaiulani Lee .... Charity Camber
Billy Jacoby .... Brett Camber
Mills Watson .... Gary Pervier

Release Date: Theatrical: August 12, 1983; Fantasporto Film Festival: February, 1987

*Images courtesy at:






A frusterated housewife named Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace Stone) has a great husband named Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly) and a 5 year old son named Tad (Danny Pintauro) but yet she has been having an affair with another man named Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone) but she tries to break it off with him but Vic finds out about the affair with Kemp and goes away on business for 10 days to think about their marriage.
Meanwhile, they have one of their vehicles which is a pinto being repaired by an owner named Joe Camber (Ed Lauter) as him and his family owns a Saint Bernard named Cujo whom is supposedly friendly but Cujo was bitten on the nose by a bat while chasing after a rabbit in a cave and ends up having rabies.
Noises disturb Cujo and slowly he gets moody eventually getting sicker all the time from the bat bite to the point where he ends up first killing Ed's friend Gary Pervier (Mills Watson) and then Ed spots Gary's corpse in his friend and then Cujo attacks him as well leaving them both dead.
Donna and Tad drives up to Ed's ranch to find out how their pinto is coming along and thier car battery dies right when they arrive and are pitted against Cujo as the two of them are stranded trapped in their car.


A nice well focused moment with the dog Cujo chasing after a robbit as you watch carefully while this moment is happening wondering if the rabbit will be okay as well as the rabbit escaping down a hole and this dog pointing his nose trying to searching for this rodent along with a nice shocking moment on a bat biting his nose as this for sure leaves a nice clue that later on this dog will turn sick and not himself.
A nice situation with the little boy Ted Trenton running to his bed and jumping on it for fear of monsters which looked good and natural by what we see here since most of us were like that on being afraid of the dark and monsters lurking under the bed. Plus this is a good drawing card later on in the story on the terrifying incidents on what he will experience later on. Also a great dark shot on his closet door slowly opening which looked creepily done and in good taste.
Nice impressive moments with the parents Donna and Vic at the breakfast table talking along with Ted acting cute towards them in which this looked incredibly uplifting to watch all of this and was well focused by everyone's reactions to everything.
Also we spot a situation with Donna and Steve Kemp lying near a bed which leaves an impression that she's havin an affair as beforehand she looked like that she has a happy relationship with her husband which adds more mysterious moments that she's not happy with things and adding some dysfunctional values.
A good moment with both Donna and Tad going to the place with Cujo's owners as well as a nice shot on the dog tromping up towards everyone with Tad wanting to pet the dog and Donna being a little cautious in which we spot this moment it does leave an impression that there's something wrong with this animal but then there's good liners on the boy Brett Camber letting them know that this dog's breed isn't vicious and things look uplifting with Tad petting this dog which shows a nice happy moment. Plus a nice camera shot on the dog's nose revealing the bite mark as this leaves a nice clue to what will happen eventually.
Nice intense situation with the family man who owns the dog Joe Camber coming home and acting grumpy stomping into the house and grabbing a beer as you wonder if he will act abusive to his family. Plus some nicely focused moments on Cujo being disturbed by the noises going on as well as revealing his looks by being sicker than usual as this for sure keeps you in suspense that he will turn vicious any second now since the rabies are kicking in more.
Some good strong moments with Steve trying to make out with Donna and she tries to stop him in which there's great aggressive moments happening here as well as her spilling some stuff and suddenly Tad and Vic nearly catching them in the act since this gives you a sinking feeling that Vic himself knows about their previous affairs. The timing on here was dead on.
Perfect intense and loud sarcastic moments between both Joe and his buddy Gary Pervier having a drink and talking shit as well as Cujo being disturbed more by the noise along with Joe insulting this dog by being harmless as this makes you cringe wondering if he will turn just yet by all that goes on here. This scene looked powerfully done.
Perfect touch on the morning fog with Gary trying to search for Cujo and then this dog slowly sstaring at him and sneering at him with his teeth as this for sure looked terrifyinhg and wondering if he will be killed by this beast.
A perfect intense moment on Cujo attacking Gary and him trying to defend himself as there's perfect fast action camera shots on all of this.
Perfect moment with Donna and Tad driving up to the place and their car breaks down which works in perfectly for a horror film giving it a psychological feel of showing no escape with that vicious dog around. Plus a good moment on her having her vehicle door open and the camera zooming in which leaves an impression that an attack will occur and boy there's a perfect still moment and suddenly a perfect jumping moment with this dog having a change of heart with this happy little boy being terrified by what's going on. Plus them trapped in their vehicle for a few days adds a more psychological feel to everything as well as this boy having athsma attacks which doesn't look pleasant at all. All of this was perfectly disturbing. What's more terriftying is when the phone rings in the house and the dog goes haywire bashing himself against the vehicle showing more of a powerful force wrecking stuff since in a horror film these killer animals are more powerful than you'd expect and it totally works in well.
Perfect vengeful moment with Donna swinging a bat at the dog which totally gives you that feeling to let this beast have it as this looked perfectly intense by the going ons.
Nicely focused and close up shot moment on Donna doing CPR on Tad which makes you watch carefully if he will be revived. Also a good camera shot on her near a window which leaves an impression that the dog will come crashing through and gives you the chills while watching this.
Bottom line: Someone advised me that this was a good movie but I found it pointless. Yes, it is suspenseful and disturbing as you wonder how the mother and child will be able to survive in their car with that dog as you want that dog killed for being deadly but the story lacks a stroong plot as basically the rest of the time it's set with the mother and child trapped in their car pitted again that vicious beast. The book by Stephen King is apparently much better.

The acting is very good as we have a nice performance again by Dee Wallace Stone (Donna Trenton). I have never had an issue with her acting in any of the films and she does a great job in all of them. She knew how to drive her confusions on what choices she had to make and was also very good with her actions towards the Saint Bernard. Also does well acting troubled and upset when she is forced upon in which she uses up good energy on this. Also does well screaming in fursteration offering a great intensity. Shows great painful screaming when she's attacked or showing perfect blocking while swinging a bat at the dog using great strength within this. She's definetely a top scream queen without a doubt.
We have a debut film performance by TV former child star
Danny Pintauro (Tad Trenton) who has such a cute personality in the film as if you'd want to have a child like that in your life to make your day every day. He was terrific with his terrifying emotions when the dog attacks the car and when he was having seizures too wondering if they were really happening. Plus does well with his eyes rolled up expressions when having these seisures which looked lifelike. He really does his job. Beforehand shows off a nice charm as a happy go lucky little boy. A year after this film he'd be well remembered in the sitcom Who's the Boss?
Christopher Stone (Steve Kemp) added a ton of spunk into his part of the film in which he shows a perfect outgoing personality and a sleazy charm too. He was highly energetic throughout everything in this film. Also does a good job by acting forceful as well as showing some good aggressions in a certain part of the film. Also adds a nice vengeful attitude which shows off nicely too. Bless his soul as he will be greatly missed and a true character actor too.
Ed Lauter (Joe Camber) lived to play a redneck at his countryside in which he was great with his aggressive and verbal attitude along with having nice fast action blocking when trying to do something bringing it all to realistic values. Also had the perfect looks to play someone whom is somewhat dysfunctional into everything he did here. Does a great job with his drunken and sacrastic behavior as well as showing a perfect upsetting emotional attitude when spotting something devastating. Also shows a great shocked reaction near the end of his performance.
Billy Jacoby (Brett Camber) was great as an innocent pre teen in the film and studied this part quite well. Acts perfectly gentle towards his dog and having a convincing reassuring attitude too. Plus does a nice job by being cautious towards his dog when he growls at him and trying to speak peacefully in which he brought a great focus by doing this.
Mills Watson (Gary Pervier) was another noticeable supporting character actor in which he was another great asshole redneck while coming acorss as convincingly offensive with his discussions and acting strong about all of this. Plus does a great job shouting out towards the dog and acting tough and intense with his anger which also looked realistic too.

Two men are bloodily attacked by the dog.
The dog keeps looking gruesome too the sicker he gets.
Otherwise the gore in this film is a total bomb.

Charles Bernstein has some excellent composition with his music and I especially admired his deep echoing synthesizer sounds when it shows the vicious Saint Bernard with the banging sounds. He knows how to compose for a dark horror film for sure. Also has nice uplifting violin orchestral music in the peaceful spots especially the beginning as well as hearing nice mellow flute music too. The violin music sounds nice long and clear with the other suspenseful scene's used in this motion picutre. This composer often uses differenttypes of music for every different film I've seen him do unlike certain others who sometimes uses stuff from their other films. He for sure makes an effort here.

Vic Trenton: There are no real monsters.
Tad Trenton: Except for the one in my closet.

Donna Trenton: Fuck you, dog.

[Joe Camber has encountered Cujo in the garage. Cujo glares at him menacingly & growls]
Joe Camber: Cujo?
[the dog snarls again, and approaches him menacingly]
Joe Camber: Oh my God... you're rabid!
[Cujo barks savagely and charges at Joe. He puts his arms up to defend himself as Cujo attacks]
Joe Camber: [yelling] NO! NO! CUJO!
[the dog jumps on him & knocks him down]