Cujo is the 1983 adaptation of Cujo directed by Lewis Teague from a screenplay by Don Carlos Dunaway and Lauren Currier. It was released on August 12, 1983.
Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) is a frustrated housewife whose life is in turmoil after her husband Vic learns about her having an affair. Brett Camber is a young boy and a son of a mechanic, Joe, whose only companion is a St. Bernard named "Cujo." Cujo is bitten by a bat with rabies and his behavior begins to change. While the dog begins to succumb to the disease, Brett and his mother leave for Connecticut to visit his mother's sister. When Donna and her young son, Tad, drive out to the home where Cujo and the Cambers live, the gentle Cujo has been driven insane by rabies and has killed Joe and the Cambers' neighbor. Making matters worse, their car battery dies at the Cambers' house. Donna and Ted are trapped inside while the massive dog waits outside, attacking repeatedly, all while Vic is out of town on a business trip.
Cujo brutally kills anyone and everyone who comes to the house, including the local Sheriff. Eventually Donna makes an attempt to dash for the house but is attacked by Cujo, the only safety being the car. After a brutal struggle between the desperate mother and the relentless animal, Donna takes advantage of a momentary distraction and beats Cujo with a baseball bat and then stabs him with the handle when the bat breaks. After Donna manages to revive her son, who had passed out due to the extreme heat, Cujo tears through the kitchen window and launches himself at the two. Donna kills Cujo with the dead Sheriff's revolver. She is joined by her husband outside who has just arrived as the carnage ends.
- Donna Trenton - Dee Wallace-Stone
- Tad Trenton - Danny Pintauro
- Vic Trenton - Daniel Hugh Kelly
- Steve Kemp - Victor Stone
- Joe Camber - Ed Lauter
- George Bannerman - Sandy Ward
For the character of Cujo the film used five St. Bernards, a Rottweiller, one mechanical head, and a man in a dog costume.
The movie had an estimated budget of $5,000,000 and grossed about $21,200,000. It was filmed in Glen Ellen, Mendocino, Petaluma, and Santa Rosa. All in California.
An uncredited Frank Welker provided some of Cujo's vocal effects during the attack scenes.
Cujo 2013 casting http://www.CujoTheMovie.com
The film recieved mixed reviews upon its release. Most critics said that the film was a cliche` and jump-scare ridden mess. However, since then, it has gained a gentle reception from fans, who call it a very good adaptation of the novel, praising the cast, how it follows the book so closely, and Cujo himself. The film was #58 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
Differences from the Book
- No mention is made to The Dead Zone or Frank Dodd. Bannerman is only called that once, very briefly.
- The Dead Zone was being adapted at the same time by another studio. They were released roughly two months apart, Cujo being first. (Although both movies would later be owned by Paramount, the company behind The Dead Zone).
- The film starts off with Cujo getting bitten. This is the only scene in which Cujo is not rabid.
- The film shows the Trenton's first visit to the Camber's during the course of the movie. Tad does play with Cujo but he is only in the early stages of rabies.
- The Sharp Cereal Incident happens during the movie.
- The film shows Donna sleeping with Steve twice before finally breaking up, where the book introduces Steve in the break-up scene.
- Kemp is shown to be a friend of the Trenton's. He plays tennis with Vic. And even comes in when they're eating.
- Vic never gets a letter from Kemp. Vic drives by and sees Donna and Steve and figures it out.
- Donna never tells Vic she has had an affair but the conversation is alluded to.
- Charity wins the lottery but tells Brett and Joe together. Joe agrees to let them go to her sisters without resistance. After that Charity and Brett are never in the movie again.
- Vic never calls the police asking them to check on Donna. He returns home of his own free will. It is only when he arrives that he finds out what Kemp did.
- Kemp never leaves town.
- Kemp isn't shown destroying the house. He never ejaculates on the bed. And does mess up the upstairs bedrooms.
- When Donna attempts to escape she does not throw rocks. Instead, she gets on her hands and knees and looks under the car. And instead of Cujo sitting there waiting he moves around the back and sneaks up on her from behind.
- Although Cujo does bite Donna, no mention is shown that she has gotten rabies.
- The fight between Bannerman and Cujo is longer and includes the inside of the barn.
- Tad lives in this version.
- According to one source, the producers thought the death of a child would be too traumatic. Other sources claim that this decision was to keep even those who read the book in suspense.
- Although Donna stabs Cujo with the bat that's not what kills him. Cujo breaks into the house as Donna is helping Tad and she shoots Cujo with Bannerman's gun.
- The movie ends with Vic finding Donna and Tad. There is no mention of the rabies scare, Donna's treatment, or the outcome of the Sharp account.