So with Stephen King movies returning to the spotlight of the silver screen after way too long with the long anticipated Dark Tower movie in August and the equally anticipated remake of It in September, I’ll cover some King on the way. I’ve heard it confirmed that Cujo will have a cameo in the Dark Tower film (before his turn I imagine, I’d like to think a rabid St. Bernard wouldn’t get too far in New York City.) so I figured why not not start with this underrated King classic.
Cujo is a simple, confined story of a mother and son trapped in there busted down car in the middle of a empty farmhouse at the mercy of the blazing summer and a massive, diseased St. Bernard gone insane after getting bitten on the nose by a rabid bat. The Trenton family, mom-Donna, dad-Vic, and young son Tad are a reasonably happy young family living in the small burg of Castle Rock, Maine, at least at first. Donna had an affair with tennis player, furniture fixer uper, and total douchebag Steve Kemp. On top of dealing with Donna’s infidelity and his Ford Pinto breaking down all the time, Vic’s small advertising business is caught up in a scare involving defective breakfast cereal and the backlash of legal weight accompanying it, putting everything Vic worked so hard for and his family’s lively hood at stake. Vic has to go away to try to save his business, leaving Donna to go to the town mechanic’s house in a last ditch effort to save that dying Pinto with her son. Joe Cambers is the town mechanic, and a abusive alcholic; Charity, Joe’s wife, wins a small lotto pool and tries to use the money to take herself and there son Brett up to her well to do sister’s place and disappear from Joe’s assholery. He agrees to let her go, planning on going into town with his buddy and scoring some hookers and booze while the wife and kid’s away. This just leaves us to the most tragic character, the lovable St. Bernard Cujo. He’s kind and loves his family but sadly chased the wrong rabbit, ramming his head into the wrong hole where the fateful bats lurked. Cujo slowly loses his mind, his slow, loving nature deteriorates into relentless crimson hate and a lust for blood. When Donna and Tad venture up to the Cambers house on the outskirts of town, Cujo has already slaughtered Joe Chambers and his buddy and will not stop until he kills the Trentons.
So, for the most part the book and movie are similar, though I will recommend the book over the movie for two critical reasons. The first being Cujo’s change which King hauntingly narrates through the big dog’s perspective, being both tragic but also more frightening as the dog almost comes to symbolize the devil coming to make Donna pay for her lustful sins. The second reason is the ending to the book is more heartbreaking but more harrowing than the movie’s. In the movie, Donna pulls a unconscious, dehydrated, and overexposed Tad into the house, giving him CPR desperately until Cujo appears where she finds Joe’s shotgun and blows Cujo’s filthy, bloody ass away, Tad wakes up, happy ending. Well, the book says F you happy ending. Donna has had several severe infected wounds from the mutt; Tad never wakes up and dies scared wanting his daddy; Donna beats Cujo to death in the hot sun until Vic and the police pull her off of him. By no means is the movie bad, it’s actually a solid movie and the imagery of the dog is terrifying as hell.
There is a flaw either way: it drags a bit either in book or film. The book handles it a little better. I’d suggest shortening it but it’s already a little over 350 pages which is short as hell for any Stephen King story. I have to say, I hope the rumors of a remake are false because a lot of this story would be null in void if told in our modern day (one cell phone call- end of story in twenty minutes.) Definately pick up the book or catch the movie on netflix and may the gaming gods bring you glory and don’t send Cujo on your asses.