Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Dee Wallace Stone, Christopher Stone, Daniel Hugh-Kelly, Danny Pintauro, Ed Lauter
Directed by Lewis Teague
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Man, they sure don't make them like they used to. Or in the case of horror scribe Stephen King, they don't write them like they used to either. Cujo, King's most claustrophobic work, made the jump from page to screen way back in (Christ, I cannot believe I am referring to the Eighties as way back, but alas) 1983. Lionsgate has come through with another worthy addition to our ever-growing high-definition King video libraries as Cujo finally comes home in all its 1080p glory.
Meet Cujo (played with varying amounts of vigor by several different St. Bernards, the exact number of which remains a mystery). He's just your ordinary lovable pooch until one day he sticks his drooling snout into a rabbit hole that also happens to be home to a bunch of rabid bats. Poor Cujo gets himself a bite on the nose, quickly followed by a mean case of mange and one hell of a bloodthirsty attitude. These results are especially troublesome for Donna Trenton (Wallace Stone) and her son, Tad (Pintauro), because old Cujo has made them the object of his fury by trapping them helplessly in a car for much of the movie.
Just like the book, these events bring to life an almost unmatched feeling of claustrophobia. Cujo works on every level that it should, and considering how poorly most of King's work has translated (one way or another) to the screen, we need to hold onto these few good gems whenever we can.
Surprisingly the film actually looks pretty good here in high-definition. Given its age I'd hazard to say it's never looked better. While not a stunner by any stretch of the imagination, there's more than a reasonable amount of detail present in the visuals, and you can instantly tell that what you're seeing is indeed a new transfer. That's more than I can say for a lot of older films that have made their way to this new format.
Just like on its recently released DVD cousin, there aren't a whole lot of extras to be found here. Don't get me wrong; what's here is noteworthy and more inclusive than anything else to date, but come on, man! We're talking going on thirty years' worth of memories! Surely this could merit an entire bonus disk all its own. Afraid not.
Things start off with an insightful and at times funny commentary with director Lewis Teague as he waxes on and on about what went into every little detail of bringing this film to life. This is a pretty good listen, and I highly recommend it for people who are looking for their behind-the-scenes fix. From there we get a three-part documentary that totals out to a scant forty-two minutes, examining everything from the origin of the dog's name and other assorted tidbits with King biographer Douglas E. Winter to how to make the normally loving and cute as a button St. Bernard breed scary. On a more interesting note, also discussed are the details surrounding the editing of the film. For those not in the know, upon filming, Cujo, needed to switch editors because the first guy who got the gig just wasn't cutting the proverbial mustard. Thankfully Neil Travis stepped in to deliver the project that we've all come to love. And with that, there's nothing else. See what I mean? It's like taking a bite out of a steak dinner and then leaving the table.
One thing cannot be argued, though, and that's the fact that no matter how you slice it, this edition of Cujo is the best out there. Even better than the DVD given its high-def transfer. Double dip without fear. The water is fine. Just look out for that nasty mouth foam floating around. It's pretty gross.
3 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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