31 Days of Terror: Cujo
31 Days of Terror will cover a wide array of horror films leading up to Halloween. We'll be posting our thoughts and feelings on some of our favorites every day for the next 31 days. If your favorite doesn't make it, it doesn't mean we don't like it, so speak up in the comments below!
American's fun, lovable Saint Bernard is back at it again in Beethoven's Car Troubles. When a young mother and her child are trapped inside of their car, it's up to Beethoven to save them. When the big, silly pooch accidentally knocks over a gallon of red paint onto his coat however, all kinds of shenanigans ensue as everyone mistakes him for a rabid monster, but Beethoven will do everything he can to smother the humans with hugs and kisses.
Jaws in a car is how I'd describe Cujo. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name that the man can't even remember writing because he was so hopped up on drugs at the time, Cujo is a reflection of that time in King's career where it felt like he was just crapping out ideas left and right; making harmless things seem horrifying. The perfect example of King's drug-addled euphoria is the movie Maximum Overdrive, which is a story for another time but Cujo, while a simple premise of a dog attacking Maine residents, still made for an entertaining film.
The filmmakers really play with the Jaws formula by doing shots from the dog's POV but then deceiving the audience by having the dog appear in front of the camera, which makes for a fun surprise. The action scenes are still brutal and when Cujo's attacking the mom, Danna, it feels like a real dog attack and Dee Wallace's performance is immersive enough to feel her anguish at trying to push back against this massive canine. Secondhand to Wallace is Danny Pintauro's performance as her son, Tad. His constant screaming and whining can be noxious to some but a child in any situation like that would be reacting in the same manner and he pulls it off perfectly
Cujo though is a beast all on his own. Anytime he's on screen, snarling, staring, or even just lying down covered in blood, he's intimidating. It's no surprise that his name is synonymous with big dogs, whether they're Saint Bernards or not.
Cujo feels like a fever dream but it holds up as the last situation you'd ever want to be in and he's the last thing you wouldn't want to see before you die.