“It’s not a monster . . . it’s just a doggy . . . .”
No American horror film did more to spike cat adoptions than Cujo (1983). Based on Stephen King’s psychological thriller about a rabid dog, the terror story remains forever etched into the minds of filmgoers, as well as in the grip marks on many theater seats.
Lee Gambin analyzes the film scene by scene, including exhaustive coverage of the production from its problematic early days with originally-assigned director Peter Medak to the final edit by ultimate director Lewis Teague. Drawn from interviews with Teague, screenwriter Barbara Turner, and cast and crew, including Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Danny Pintauro, Jan de Bont, Jennifer Jason Leigh, composer Charles Bernstein, and stunt man Gary Morgan.
With its sophistication and deep subversive intelligence, Cujo is a biting critique on the breakdown of the American family, an electric take on the “woman in the storm” story trope, a personal and introspective ecologically themed horror film (a subgenre usually socially and politically motivated), and a perfectly realised example of the power of circumstance. It also thoroughly scrutinizes fear—both real and imagined—in a sharp and magnetic manner.
- -the film’s problematic early days with originally assigned director Peter Medak being fired.
- -Lewis Teague being brought in to take over as director along with cinematographer Jan de Bont.
- -detailed insight into screenwriter Barbara Turner’s take on the source material.
- -over thirty candid interviews with cast and crew, such as stars Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kell, Danny Pintauro, director Lewis Teague, composer Charles Bernstein, and stunt man Gary Morgan.
- -remembrances from Danny Pintauro’s parents.
- -highly deserving and loving insight about the late great animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller from his daughter, Teresa Ann Miller.
Index. Illustrated with over 200 pictures (most never before seen).
About the author: Film historian Lee Gambin has written for Fangoria, Shock Till You Drop, Delirium, and Scream Magazine, among others. His previous works include Massacred By Mother Nature: Exploring the Natural Horror Film, and We Can Be Who We Are: Movie Musicals of the 1970s. He is the director of Melbourne-based film collective, Cinemaniacs.