Horror Movie Review: Cujo (1983)

“Fuck you, dog.”

The Trentons – Vic, Donna and their son Tad – are a normal suburban family. Vic works in advertising, Donna is a housewife and Tad is a sensitive little boy who has a fear of monsters in his closet. One day, the Trenton family takes their car to the rural home of mechanic Joe Camber for some repairs. While there, they meet Cujo – the Camber family’s easy-going St. Bernard. Donna notices that Cujo has a bite on his nose, but thinks little of it.

Vic and Donna’s marriage is tested when Vic learns that Donna has been having an affair with Steve Kemp (apparently her ex boyfriend?). Meanwhile, Cujo’s bite came from a rabid bat and his previously docile nature begins changing as he succumbs to the disease. Mrs. Camber and her son, Brett, leave for a week to visit her sister. Cujo is soon completely crazed and kills the abusive Joe and his neighbor Gary Pervier.

Vic goes out of town on a business trip. Donna and Tad return to the Cambers’ house for more car repairs and Cujo attacks them. Donna and Tad take shelter in their car, but the alternator dies, meaning the two are unable to leave. Therefore, they are forced to stay inside their Ford Pinto while Cujo attacks repeatedly.

The hot sun makes the conditions nearly unbearable and Donna knows that she must do something before they both die from heatstroke or dehydration. Attempts at escape, however, are foiled by the mad Cujo’s repeated attacks. The local Sheriff comes to the house for a brief standoff, before Cujo kills him. Donna decides that she must risk leaving the car, but Cujo bites her on the leg and forces her back inside. Eventually, the badly wounded Donna makes another desperate escape attempt but is again attacked and must return to the car.

Vic arrives home to rekindle his marriage, but finds out Donna and Tad are missing. He suspects the possessive Steve Kemp of kidnapping, but then realizes his wife and son might be at the Camber’s residence.

Meanwhile, Donna takes advantage of a momentary distraction and hits Cujo with a baseball bat until the bat breaks off, leaving only a jagged handle. Cujo jumps at her and is impaled by the broken bat.


Is that the end? Has she finished him off? And what about the Sharp account?!

Cujo is a predictable movie, but satisfying – a pretty good story considering Stephen King apparently was so out of it at the time he doesn’t even remember writing it. The two main actors – Dee Wallace (Donna) and Danny Pintauro (Tad) – I personally think do an amazing job from when they’re stuck in the car onwards. The raw emotion they show and the way they both react to Cujo trying to break in is powerful, especially when you see what Donna would do to protect Tad and herself. The film itself is pretty horrific, it may not have amazing modern effects but Cujo is still painful to look at and menacing. Finally, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Cujo because ultimately it wasn’t his fault, had the Camber family gotten him vaccinated or even noticed the huge bite on his nose, then it would have all been fine.

Although it’s not a terrible movie and holds up pretty well, it’s still not amazing and very predictable. Dee Wallace is definitely the best thing about it, as well as Cujo’s scenes. Plus, I have to praise Danny Pintauro for his acting when he was so young – apparently he couldn’t even read!


*Some questions about Vic – why was Vic blamed for what went wrong with the cereal? Surely seeing as he only works in advertising he has nothing to do with the actual product, just the promotion of it, so wouldn’t the manufacturers be to blame for anything being wrong with it? And also, why was he in charge of keeping the Sharp account? Wouldn’t that be a lawyer’s job or something…?
Unimportant to the story really, but still so confusing and weird…


  • Sally Powell

    Editor/Writer - Stay at home mum educating the horror minds of tomorrow. If it's got vampires or Nicolas Cage in it, I'm sold. Found cleaning bums or kicking ass in an RPG. (And occasionally here reviewing all things horror and gaming related!)

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1 thought on “Horror Movie Review: Cujo (1983)

  • Great review, been a while since I last saw it but may see it again in the build up to Halloween.


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