Friday, 26 June 2009

Cujo 1983

Ahhhh, St Bernards. Schnorbitz, Beethoven and little barrels of brandy. Wonderful animals.

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I had forgotten how sheer balls to the wall terrifying Cujo is. It has everything that a horror film needs in fear, tension and threat but something else that many do not. Realism. Cujo is believable, rabies does exist and it does cause affected animals to become irrationally violent. What really carries Cujo off is the fantastic performances turned in by Dee Wallace Stone, Gary Pintauro and Cujo himself. Gary is truly worth a mention as he is totally convincing as a terrified child. So often children let down a production but not in this case.

The story is deceptively simple. Cujo is the mild mannered St Bernard owned by Good Ol’ Boy Joe Camber. He gets bitten by a rabid bat and slowly succumbs to the illness. Donna and Tad Trenton take their Ford Pinto along the the Camber farm to get it fixed. Nobody is there, except Cujo.vlcsnap-307519

The tension and fear that is wrangled into what is essentially a story about two people stuck in a car is sublime. At all times Cujo is totally menacing with, for me, the absolute pinnacle being the excellence of the dogs performance. When Cujo is angry he looks it. There are no out of place tail wags to spoil the illusion here.

Another masterful touch that can be attributed to the King novel is the flawed characters that we see. Donna Trenton isn't a saint, she has been cheating on her husband, their previously good life is in crises and the one thing that Cujo manages to do is bring them back together.

Bernsteins score is also outstanding with the perfect level of menace in every scene. This is enhanced by the incredibly effective cinematography. Often people quote “The Shining£” as being Kings standout frightener. I would disagree. For me Cujo is the true name in terror.

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Paul out…and wondering about that bite on his pet Tiger.

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