Cujo - Limited Edition Blu-ray

Monday, 13 May 2019 16:02

An adaptation of an early Stephen King novel, “Cujo” is about a lovable St. Bernard dog that catches rabies and turns very nasty. Donna (Dee Wallace – “ET - The Extra-Terrestrial”, “The Howling”) is having an extramarital affair whilst her relationship with Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly – “Star Trek: Insurrection”, Hardcastle and McCormick) is stagnating. Young son Tad (Danny Pintauro – Who’s the Boss?) is the glue that is keeping them together.

When Vic goes away on a long business trip, Donna takes Tad to an out of town mechanic to get her car fixed. She arrives at the remote location only to discover that there is nobody around, and mum and son become trapped in their vehicle, terrorised by a slobbering, snarling Cujo. The thriller was directed by Lewis Teague (“The Jewel of the Nile”, “Alligator”).

The movie features some excellent performances, particularly from Wallace, Pintauro and an assortment (five to ten, depending on whose account you believe) of St. Bernard dogs. Films about killer animals tend to live or die on the credibility of their beasts, and – thanks to some brilliant make-up, dog handling and judicious cutting – this is one of the best. As the making-of explains, they also used a man in a dog suit and a puppet pooch head, but you genuinely are none-the-wiser. Amusingly, the St. Bernard dog suit designed for a smaller dog to wear was not utilised.

To make matters more interesting, even when the dog is at his most delirious and aggressive, the director maintains a level of sympathy for him as we have witnessed his reluctant, gradual progression from an adorable pet into a terrifying, 100KG man-killer.

Wallace is given some fantastic material to get her acting chops into, first with the fragile marriage and guilt-ridden affair, and then battling alone for her life and more importantly that of her defenceless son. The exhausted, baked-in-a-car desperation is written large on her face as she tries to find a way past the berserk mutt.

The film has a few jump shocks but the main atmospheric traits are dread, claustrophobia and tension. No matter how addled Cujo gets, he always seems to be right there when an apparent escape opportunity arises. It is not a comforting watch from any perspective, a bit like a canine version of Jaws, only not quite as surgical.

If I had to place the movie in a hierarchy of Stephen King adaptations, it probably would slot in around the upper middle area, which in my view means it is better than the original “Pet Sematary”, “Children of the Corn” and “The Dark Tower”, but not quite up to the standards of “The Green Mile”, “The Shining” and “Stand By Me”. If you like your horror films grounded in reality, this is the one for you, especially in its revamped, HD glory.

Special features include:

  • 1080p presentation of the film, on Blu-ray for the first time ever in the UK
  • Uncompressed LPCM mono soundtrack
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • New and exclusive feature length audio commentary by Lee Gambin, author of Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo
  • New interview with Dee Wallace [40 mins]
  • New interview with composer Charles Bernstein [35 mins]
  • New interview with stuntman Gary Morgan [25 mins]
  • New interview with stuntwoman Jean Coulter [21 mins]
  • New interview with casting director Marcia Ross [20 mins]
  • New interview with visual effects artist Kathie Lawrence [13 mins]
  • New interview with special effects designer Robert Clark [12 mins]
  • New interview with dog trainer Teresa Miller [28 mins]
  • Dog Days: The Making of Cujo archival documentary on the film's production [42 mins]
  • Q&A with Dee Wallace from Cinemaniacs & Monster Fest 2015, moderated by Lee Gambin [96 mins]
  • New interview with critic and author Kim Newman [25 mins]
  • Hardbound Slipcase, featuring newly commissioned artwork by iconic British illustrator Graham Humphreys
  • Reversible sleeve featuring artwork by Justin Osbourn and original poster artwork
  • A LIMITED EDITION 60-PAGE collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Lee Gambin, author Scott Harrison, and Craig Ian Mann; illustrated with archival imagery from the film's production

If you tot it all up, the extra content comes in at over 7 hours, the majority of which is new to this release. As Newman explains, whilst the film follows the book’s plot quite closely, they diverge at the end; it is a shame they did not film the book’s conclusion to see how it changes the feel of the story.

“Cujo” (1983) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 93 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £29.99, or less from

Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2019 16:07

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