the fresh films reviews

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Cujo (1983)

Lewis Teague
91 minutes
Daniel H. Blatt
Robert Singer
Screenwriter (based on the novel by Stephen King):
Don Carlow Dunaway
Lauren Currier

Cast includes:

Donna Trenton Dee Wallace
Vic Trenton Daniel Hugh-Kelly
Tad Trenton Danny Pintauro
Steve Kemp Christopher Stone
Joe Camber Ed Lauter
Charity Camber Kaiulani Lee
Brett Camber Billy Jacobi



I've always found that Stephen King was at his best when dealing with real and everyday horrors, as opposed to the supernatural, and this tight, well-spun and absolutely spine-tingling thriller is one of the best examples of just that. The story of how a 6-year-old boy and his troubled family end up face-to-face with a rabid dog is told straightforwardly and at face-value by director Lewis Teague (Alligator, The Jewel of the Nile), who wants his characters to be believable and the terror to be concrete, unhidden and very much palpable. He succeeds, largely thanks to some fantastic acting by Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro as the mother and child (although I'm not entirely convinced that all of Pintauro's work here is in fact acting), and because he knows which buttons to push and how much to push them. For parents, Cujo is visceral, going straight for the gut. And for dog-lovers, it's heart-rending. We can catch a glimpse of that good-natured St. Bernard behind his rabid behaviour, and what a clever and effective move this is; turning a St. Bernard, the dogs' symbol of helpfulness, into a deranged killer. He's as scary as Jack Torrane in The Shining, and almost as well captured on film thanks to Teague and his crew's excellent craftsmanship. When it all settles, we don't feel either cheated or rewarded; we feel we've earned the cessation after the emotional investment we've put in.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 15.10.2014 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review:
Copyright 5.9.1996 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang