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Cujo (1983)


Cujo tells the now-often-imitated story of a vicious animal/monster and a couple of people trapped by it. In this case, the animal is a once-super-happy St. Bernard bitten by a rabid bat, and the people are mom Donna (Dee Wallace) and her son Tad (Danny Pintauro).

There’s plenty going on before that happens: Mom turns out to be having an affair despite her boyish looks, and Dad (Daniel Hugh Kelly) leaves on business for 10 days as part of an attempt to fix a marketing campaign for a cereal that’s making kids sick. That’s an awful lot of character development for a movie about a rabid dog, but none of it will matter the minute Cujo takes his first big snack by eating some dude’s face. This movie is all about Donna and Tad, trapped in their crappy Pinto in the middle of nowhere, while a vicious dog tries to wiggle into the car to eat their faces off, too.

The suspenseful film is quite memorable, and there’s a legacy here, of course. Since the movie’s appearance, the name “Cujo” can no longer be used for any animal unless you want people crossing to the other side of the street when they see you. It’s a little like the name Damien for kids.