Every year we have a tradition in the Forto house where we celebrate the greatest month of the year, October, with scare your socks off, hide under the covers, turn on all the lights, sleep with one eye open, fright fest, movie marathon every night of the month! We call it 31 Days of Horror.
Day 14 Movie: Cujo
As dog trainers, how could we not include Stephen King’s Cujo in the 31 Days of Horror. While this movie (I think ) changed the perception of rabies for ever I also think it put a cramp in the ownership of Saint Bernard’s, at least until Beethoven came along.
I haven’t seen this movie in years and I didn’t remember it being such a dramatic endeavor and the first coming of what would become “The Hoff” look-refrerring to shirtless male sex symbols made famous in the 1990’s by the hunk of all hunks, Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff.
I also forgot what a whinny kid Danny Pintauro, who played Tad. At least he had the lovely Alysa Milano to carry him in is older years on Tony Danza’s Who’s the Boss.
We didn’t even see the rabid Cujo until well into the 45 minute mark.
To make the St. Bernards attack the car, animal trainers put the dog’s favorite toys inside the car so the dogs would try to get them.
Five St. Bernards were used, one mechanical head, and a guy in a dog costume.
“Cujo” is an ancient Indian word meaning “unstoppable force.”
The foam around Cujo’s mouth was made of a concoction of egg whites and sugar. The dogs caused problems on the set by constantly licking the tasty stuff off.
A rottweiller was used for some of the scenes because they couldn’t get the St. Bernard to look mean enough.
The dogs featured in the film would often have their tails tied down to their legs because the dogs would be enjoying themselves so much that they would wag their tails during filming.
The story was inspired to Stephen King when he met his mechanic’s intimidating dog while having his motorcycle repaired one day.
The scenes where Donna and Tad are trapped by Cujo are suppose to be sweltering hot and appear that way on film. Yet the conditions were actually very cold during filming. At one point it got so cold inside the car that heaters were placed inside to keep the actors warm, but they would have to be turned off for shooting to prevent their sound from interfering.
Karo syrup dyed red was used for fake blood.
Stephen King cites this film as having the most effective scare of any of the movies based on his works, referring to the jolting scare where Cujo first leaps at the passenger window of the car.
A number of cars were used for the filming, each was disassembled for specific camera shots.
After the film Dee Wallace went on record saying she hoped she’d never see another Pinto in her life.
The original novel was a sequel of sorts following The Dead Zone. Since killer Frank Dodd was killed he became a kind of bogeyman in Castle Rock and supposedly haunted Tad. It is hinted that Dodd possessed Cujo. Sheriff George Bannerman, played by Sandy Ward here, makes specific references to Dead Zone hero Johnny Smith. Both this movie and The Dead Zone were developed at the same time, with this film released two months before, by different studios so the references were removed.
The character Sherrif Bannerman also appears in The Dead Zone, played by Tom Skerritt. The original novel functions as an indirect sequel, as the serial killer Frank Dodd is mentioned several times, and may have possessed Cujo.
Stephen King has admitted several times that he was so into his alcohol addiction at the time that he does not remember writing the book.
In the original Stephen King novel, Tad Trenton dies of dehydration while Donna contracts rabies from her fight with Cujo. There was a rabies scare following the incident, not mentioned in the film. The outcome of the Sharp account was not mentioned, in the book he had saved it.
Stephen King said that if he could go back and change anything from one of his books it would be letting Tad live. This is why he survives in this film
What is your favorite scary and/or Halloween movie? I would love to hear from you!
I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please comment below.
- 31 Days of Horror. Day 11: Trick ‘r Treat (robertforto.com)
- 31 Days of Horror. Day 12: The Dark Half (robertforto.com)
- 31 Days of Horror. Day 6: Night of the Living Dead (robertforto.com)