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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Cujo can be found here.
Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace) and her young son Tad (Danny Pintauro) are trapped for three days in a hot car while a rabid St. Bernard named Cujo lies outside waiting to attack them.
Cujo (1981) is also a novel by American horror writer Stephen King. The book was adapted for the movie by screenwriter Lauren Currier.
The beginning of the movie, where Tad sees a "monster" in his closet much like Cujo, suggests to some viewers that there was something sinister at play in Cujo's attacks besides him being in the final stages of rabies, but that idea is never addressed during the rest of the movie. In the novel, Cujo is likened to a human "monster" named Frank Dodd who appeared in The Dead Zone (1979), also written by Stephen King, and some readers conclude that Cujo was possessed by Dodd's spirit. However, it's made clear in the opening narration that Frank Dodd is dead and "moldered inside his coffin." Anyone familiar with King's works knows that a sense of evil seems to lurk beneath the surface in Castle Rock (as well as in Jerusalem's Lot and Derry), and every now and then, it emerges in various forms. King refers to this "evil" as a monster that never dies. Whether Cujo is a manifestation of this monster, possessed by Frank Dodd, or just a dog with rabies is up to each viewer to decide.
The movie ends with Donna carrying Tad out of the Camber house, so what happens later to Donna is not addressed. In the book, it mentions in an epilogue that Donna was in the hospital for nearly four weeks undergoing treatment for rabies. She lost 20 pounds and went into a deep mental depression, but she did not develop rabies.
When Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly) learns that Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone) doesn't have Donna and Tad and that Officer Bannerman (Sandy Ward) has not been heard from in several hours, he heads over to the Cambers' place himself. Meanwhile, Tad has gotten much worse and lapsed into unconsciousness. While mumbling, "I'm losing my baby," Donna makes a dash for the house. Just as she's about to reach the steps, Cujo comes out from under the porch. Seeing a baseball bat lying in the grass, she picks it up and swings at Cujo, hitting him several times until the bat breaks in half. Donna trips and Cujo lunges at her, impaling himself on the broken bat. She picks up the pistol dropped by Bannerman and uses it to smash the hatch window in the car. She pulls Tad out of the car and races into the kitchen with him. She lays him on the table and splashes water on his lifeless body. When she realizes that he isn't breathing, she gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until he finally takes a breath. Suddenly, Cujo comes crashing through a window. Donna picks up Bannerman's gun and shoots Cujo just as Vic drives up. In the final scene, Donna comes out of the house carrying Tad in her arms. Vic rushes to her and takes Tad in his own arms.
The movie hit the theatres in 1981. Most likely, the theatrical version has been released on most of the first edition VHS releases. It is also included on the US DVD by Artisan. Later then, a director's cut has been released which is the most common version nowadays. Although the director's cut is longer then the theatrical version, it misses some footage too. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.
Several movies featuring killer dogs have been recommended by viewers of Cujo. They include The Breed (2006), in which a group of students are trapped on an island with a pack of mutated dogs intent on killing them, Trapped (1973), in which a man is trapped in a department store that is guarded by six vicious Dobermans, Wilderness (2006), in which a group of juvenile delinquents are confined on an island patrolled by a man with a crossbow and his pack of killer dogs, and Rottweiler (2004), in which an escaped prisoner is chased by a cybernetic Rottweiler. Other killer dog movies worth mentioning include Dracula's Dog (1978), The Pack (1977), Man's Best Friend (1993), where the dog is a genetic mutant, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978), where the dog is a minion of Satan, and White Dog (1982), in which a girl befriends a stray white dog not knowing that it has been trained to kill black people.
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