“Over. Done with. Gone.”
Imagine, if you will, a live-action Disney cartoon shot by Jan De Bont. A bunny rabbit is frolicking gaily through the forest as the camera pans out to reveal a beautiful Saint Bernard playing with her. Butterflies are flying, hummingbirds are flapping their gossamer wings in the meadow and everything is peaceful. Without warning, our happy puppy is attacked mercilessly by vicious, pestilence spreading VAMPIRE BATS!!! This is the story of Cujo.
Across town, a little gay boy (Danny Pintauro) is trying to go to sleep but cannot keep from pretending to be all the grande dames in British literature and imaging terrible monsters in his closet. His mom, Dee Wallace (formerly Stone), is over it. She has herself embroiled in a bit of a Harold Pinter situation, fucking the neighborhood handyman behind her loving husband's back. She knows that Danny loves his dad much more than he loves her and she’s looking for a way out! She never really wanted this family or this life that she finds herself stuck in. Dee Wallace (formerly Stone) is a moron. They have a six-bedroom home overlooking the ocean, Dee’s husband has a sick body, he makes good money, he’s a wonderful father, and her son delivers line readings as though they are all original thoughts! Some women just love to self-sabotage. Much to Danny’s disappointment, Dee finally drives her husband away and the two of them are left alone together with their broken down Chevette.
That lovable Saint Bernard, Cujo, lives with the white trash family from The Prince of Tides. They are too preoccupied skinning animals and drinking Mountain Dew to realize that their dog is now covered in open sores and dripping with novelty machine slime. Cujo has himself a case of the rage and Dee Wallace and Danny are in the wrong place at the wrong time. My mom was always dragging my gay ass on errands as a kid. Usually I’d wind up in the back seat talking to myself or singing showtunes with the windows rolled up for hours at a time while she exchanged stockings or got her nails done. Dee Wallace (formerly Stone) is much the same.
Cujo is a domestic drama that takes lots of time to establish character and location. By making us care about these people and their lives, Cujo is a terrifying film when the shit finally hits the proverbial fan! Danny Pintauro is not an actor. Danny Pintauro believes without any question in his mind or heart that the mangy dog outside their car is going to kill him and his mother. Danny Pintauro becomes so unhinged, so hysterical that he brings Dee Wallace and the entire film to a level of genius seldom seen before or since. Dee's suburban ennui transforms into something primal and raw as she fights for a life she once took for granted. Despite the ludicrous nature of a monster Saint Bernard, this movie is very well edited and full of real emotions - thus garnering my gay stamp of approval.