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Cult Movie: Stephen King's shaggy dog story Cujo offers basic horror fun

Cujo offers basic horror fun, even if its elderly star looks too cute to kill
Ralph McLean

Cujo

STEPHEN King's books have been adapted into movies more times down the years than Nigel Farage has made inexplicable appearances on Question Time.

With the cash registers still ringing loudly from the recent big screen re-boot of It, you can expect to see any number of dubious King classics revisited in the next few years. The money grubbers in the Hollywood studios will be desperate to squeeze the last cent out of the great man's work, so it's safe to say that particular trend isn't going to ease off for the foreseeable.

One side-product of the ongoing fleecing of one of America's most beloved authors considerable back catalogue though is that we're now starting to see quite a few old classics getting lifted off the shelf and given a much needed polish up for Blu-ray release.

In recent times, the likes of Christine and the original Pet Sematary have been given the old high definition make over – and now Cujo is getting the same treatment.

Few would claim that Cujo is any sort of high water mark in King's illustrious career, the man himself was deeply troubled at the time he wrote it and so loaded up on booze and medication he can barely remember even putting the thing onto paper, but it's still fun in a grimly gruesome 1980's kind of way.

The film, based on King's horror novel of the same name, was directed by Lewis Teague and hit cinema screens in 1983. Essentially, it's a one riff pulp tale of a lovable St Bernard dog called Cujo who is bitten by a rabid bat and becomes a regular hound from hell with a taste for human blood.

When Donna (Dee Wallace, who'd appeared as the mum in ET just the previous year) and her son Tad (Danny Pintauro) head out into the wilds of drab old rural Maine – classic King horror territory – to get their car repaired, they stumble upon the crazed beast who is lurking about his dead owner's garage just waiting for a little tasty meat to arrive.

If you can suspend your disbelief that such a lovely old dog is really a vicious murderer, then there's a lot of basic horror fun to be had here. Cujo becomes a matted mess of blood and sodden fur, but it's still hard to shake that cuteness factor despite all the slobbering and foaming at the mouth.

As with all the best King adaptations, there are a few tasty little subplots to explain what brings the mum and son out to the wilds, but once they're there it's all about the siege and the attack of the wild dog, which director Teague handles pretty impressively throughout.

Eureka have gone to town with this release summoning up an amazing seven hours of bonus material which is no mean feat for a film that barely clocks up an hour and a half on screen.

It's wild and woolly 80's nonsense of course, but as Stephen King adaptations go, Cujo still has plenty of bite.

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