Cujo (1983)

Cujo (1983)

“There’s no such thing as real monsters; only in stories.”

A woman (Dee Wallace) who has recently confessed to her husband (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) that she’s been having an affair with a local handyman (Christopher Stone) takes her son (Danny Pintauro) with her to get their car repaired at the home of a mechanic (Ed Lauter) who has just gone away for the week, and a rabid dog named Cujo is lying in wait for victims.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Horror Films
  • Infidelity
  • Killer Animals
  • Stephen King Adaptations
  • Survival
  • Trapped

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “simply plotted, surprisingly nerve-racking adaptation of Stephen King’s novel” is “fast-paced,” with “economical direction by Lewis Teague, who’d later direct King’s Cat’s Eye.” He points out that while it’s “a good date movie”, it “may be too frightening for little kids” — no kidding! (There is no way I would show this film to my own kids, currently ages 8, 10, and 12.) However, I agree with Peary that it’s a nifty little flick, one which generates a surprising amount of suspense and terror given the (necessarily) limited setting and circumstances. Wallace is highly sympathetic as a woman given the ultimate opportunity to atone for her transgressions (she becomes the epitome of a bad-ass mom), and Pintauro is one of the more natural kid actors to grace the screen. Fine cinematography and location shooting add to the appeal of this movie, which remains worth a look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Dee Wallace as Donna
  • Danny Pintauro as Tad
  • Fine location shooting (albeit in Northern California rather than Maine)
  • Atmospheric cinematography
  • Many highly effective sequences

Must See?
Yes, as a good (horror) show.


  • Good Show


2 thoughts on “Cujo (1983)

  1. Not must-see; only for Stephen King fans.

    This is a King novel I haven’t read but my understanding is that the novel is more complex than the film. In the film adaptation, what we get is an inorganic cross of adulterous affair with terror striking in the form of a rabid dog.

    Is this a spin on cinema’s ‘woman must pay for sin’ trope? Maybe. But it’s simply an exercise in ‘who will win out?’. (As well, Stone’s character becomes schizophrenic in a way that doesn’t exactly make sense but it makes for added drama.)

    For what it is, it’s competent-enough and King fans may be more or less satisfied. But a date movie?! I wonder which two people would be on that date. 😉

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Slight, but effective horror flick based on a minor Stephen King novel. The first half of the film is devoted to the build up to the siege showdown and the failing marriage of Stone’s character.

    Well done all round and not as nihilistic as the 1981 book, which is a blessing. Charles Bernstein’s score is effective and on occasion reminded me of Carpenter-Howarth’s work, if only fleetingly.

    Not must see for film buffs though.

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