Culture Magazine

Halloween Kingathon – Cujo (1983) From Flashback/Backslide

By Newguy
Today we have Cujo review from Damien from Flashback/Backslide lets see what he thought
Cujo helps keep modern horror movies in perspective. It’s not that today’s horror movies are bad (and there have been plenty of good ones like The Babadook and It Follows). The genre itself is just prone to badness. Even with Stephen King’s brain contributing there are still huge flaws throughout this film starring a rabid dog who traps a woman and her son in their car for days.logo The film is weak basically in every moment when Cujo is not attacking someone. I really didn’t need to watch the marital problems of Donna (Dee Wallace) and Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly). Or see how Steve (Christopher Stone) turns so deranged so quickly. Let’s focus on Steve for a second. He shows up in a handful of scenes, starting out as a suave partner and transforming to a creepy, jealous stereotype in record time. The real issue is his feather cutting rampage late in the film. He goes through the Trenton’s house, shreds all of their pillows, and cuts up Donna’s picture. All for what? The entire situation is resolved with two sentences of exposition given by a cop we’ve only met for a minute or so. What does Steve bring to the movie? Sure you could say “Cujo’s not the only monster. We’re monsters too. HUMANS ARE MONSTERS TOO.” But is that what the movie is going for? Is that our theme? I’m all for symbolism but that’s shaky. This disjointed feeling pervades the entire film. Dee Wallace gives the movie the gel it needs. She’s believable as both the grieving wife and the panicking mother. She also steps in for some of the movie’s biggest cliches. Like the fact that she didn’t instantly die when the 200 pound rabid St. Bernard attacked her. The script gives her some pretty thick plot armor which it forgot to give the police officer who Cujo takes down immediately. Speaking of Cujo vs the Police, I’m glad to see Cujo had the wherewithal to smack the officer’s gun out of his hand right away. Then when Donna tries to make a run for it in that same scene, Cujo trots over and barks at her as if to say “Hey. Hey! Get back in that car. I’m eating over here!” I feel for the dog in this movie. Both the character of Cujo and the dog actor who had to wear five pounds of slime for days of filming. Even when he’s rabid, Cujo shows some signs that he’s still fighting for control. Which means the dog was out-acting most of the cast. The only crewmember working harder is the composer who busily adds piano tones to dramatic moments, letting us know that these moments are in fact dramatic. This might be because of my more modern tastes but the movie works best for me when it’s silent, letting the tension build until the next attack or fake-out. And despite its many genre cliches (most notably the “one last scare” cliche), there are some well executed moments. One visually striking scene is the 360 degree camera spin just after a Cujo attack. As young Tad wails in the back seat, the camera spins to look at him and then his injured mother in the front, spinning faster and faster until the cut. The 360 shot functions well here but is used to better effect in It Follows. In that newer film this shot is a tool prior to an attack, not after one.cujo Like most horror movies, my viewing was a bit tainted by the film’s age. Audiences today are well aware of genre cliches and familar with unneccesary plotlines used to justify the film’s length (this really could have been a 30 minute movie and wouldn’t have been much worse for it. The performances by Dee Wallace and most importantly by Cujo keep the movie interesting even if the outcome is assured. Rating: 4/10 Favorite moments: -Police officers arrives on the scene, drives right past a bloodied car, starts to radio in to HQ, hears a noise, and decides “hey that sounds suspicious. I better go check on that. No need to tell HQ about that literal horror scene of a car. I probably ought to keep my pistol in its holster. There might be kids around.” -A blood covered Cujo startles his owner in the same room where a man was recently eaten alive. Once the owner sees his loving dog he mumbles “Oh god…you’re rabid.” You got it guy. It’s nice of you to explain it to Cujo or anyone who ducked out of the theater to get popcorn during the introduction’s endless, music-filled prairie scene. -Donna gets out of the car and is wearing high heels. Why would you be wearing those with a killer dog on the prowl? That’s definitely a time to go barefoot.

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