Movie Illusions Shattered: Cujo

Sometimes you just shouldn’t read the trivia sections on IMDB.

I’m currently reading The Howling (which continues to be very, very different from the movie). One thing I do almost all the time I can is read or listen to a book and then watch the movie. I’m only about 30% done with the book and have been having a difficult time fending off the urge to watch the movie. Eventually I realized that I could get my Dee Wallace fix by watching Cujo.

I’ve read the book, which is very good and very similar to the movie save for the ending. Pretty much anyone with a soul prefers the movie ending, including Stephen King himself. In Cujo, Dee Wallace and cute little Danny Pintauro are amazing actors. Dee’s exhausted yelling at poor little Danny and the way she reacts to him in every frame is so realistic. From the little shakes to holding him to crying when he does, the woman plays a terrified mother in an incredibly realistic way.

Danny Pintauro though, for his age, was phenomenal. Hell, for any age. He was terrified and annoying and had seizures and wailed and cried like a child would in that situation. Unless they violated every single child protection law in existence and actually tortured the child, he deserved at least a Golden Globe or a Tony or a Little League trophy. Something. In the behind the scenes feature on the Blu-ray, Dee Wallace says that she has been fortunate to work with all sorts of wonderful child actors in her career, but little Danny Pintauro in that role was the most amazing. The director himself said that Danny wasn’t acting the role, he was being the role.

So why the shattered illusion? I read this: The dogs featured in the film would often have their tails tied down to their legs because the dogs would be enjoying themselves so much that they would wag their tails during filming.

It goes on to tell that they missed this little trick once when Cujo was about to attack, and the dog was wagging his tail “enthusiastically”.

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. When Cujo attacks the white trash hoarding neighbor, his cute little tail is just wagging! And watch every time they show the dog’s tail. It doesn’t move, but you can see it trying to. He goes to attack the car? Tail tied underneath him. He just wanted to play, damn it! He’s attacking Dee Wallace? Bound and trying to wag. His ears are back sometimes like he’s trying to play. When he attacks Dee Wallace when she finally gets the bat, watch his hind quarters in the back. You can’t see the actual tail, but his hind quarters are wiggling back and forth…because he’s wagging his tail in happiness. He legitimately wanted to play with Dee Wallace. How did they get the dog to attack the Pinto? Played with him and put one of his toys in the car.

Cujo was legitimately just trying to play.

I sincerely hope that I can learn to ignore this, because it gives the movie a whole different spin. I like the movie quite a bit and the book just as much (maybe a teeny, tiny, little bit less because of that damned ending). It’s effective and tragic.

The real Cujo was just spending time with some new friends and repeatedly licking off the egg and sugar concoction they used for rabies foam. It makes Cujo a giant, affectionate puppy unless you willfully ignore it. I hope I can.


~ by Darren Endymion on July 18, 2016.

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