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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Cujo (1983)

- Tad (Danny Pintauro)

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer   
Published: April 05, 2002

Stars: Dee Wallace-Stone, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh Kelly
Other Stars: Ed Lauter, Christopher Stone
Director: Lewis Teague

Manufacturer: wamo
MPAA Rating: R for (violence and bad language)
Run Time: 01h:32m:54s
Release Date: August 21, 2001
UPC: 017153114010
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Okay, we all know that Stephen King novels are very difficult to translate to the screen. It's taken some of the world's top directors, like Stanley Kubrick and David Cronenberg, to make his stories work. So why would anyone want to film Cujo, a story about a rabid St. Bernard? The idea is silly enough on paper, "woman and child trapped in car while big dog putzes around outside," but on film it's just ridiculous.Cujo opens with the title dog chasing a rabbit. The rabbit goes into a burrow, and the dog sticks its head inside, trying to find its wily prey. Instead it finds a cave full of bats, one of which bites Cujo on the nose. Then we cut to the Trenton family, Donna (Dee Wallace-Stone), Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly), and their son Tad (Danny Pintauro), who seem like a nice, normal family. But as it turns out, Donna has been having an affair with family friend Steve (Christopher Kemp); Vic finds out, and decides to leave for a while to sort things out. When he's gone, Donna takes her car in to be fixed. Of course, the mechanic happens to be the owner of Cujo, who by now has become completely rabid. So Donna and Tad get there, and her car dies, and Cujo tries to get in. This goes on for literally four days.The plot sounds simple, and it is. But the writers realized that the film would only be scary if the audience cared about the characters. So they devote almost half the movie to the dynamics of the Trenton family, making sure we know all the details. What we find is that Vic is practically a saint, working hard to support his wife and child, while Tad is a whining baby, and Donna is an ungrateful wife. By the time Donna and Tad get stuck in the car, we're rooting for Cujo to rip them to shreds. Tad becomes especially annoying when he has what appear to be asthma attacks, or maybe heatstroke.This year's Panic Room may have proved that you can have a movie about two people stuck in a small space and make it interesting, but Cujo suggests Fincher's film is the exception to the rule. The scenes with Donna and Tad in the car are not scary at all. They don't try to think of a way to get away from Cujo, they simply sit and hope that someone will find them or Cujo will leave long enough for them to make an escape. When there is a showdown between Cujo and Donna, it's utterly boring, and badly shot, being shown from Cujo's point of view. Are they trying to get us to identify with Cujo, or what? All I know is that by the end, I was sad to see who lived and died.

Rating for Style: F
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: While I can't be certain, Cujo looks like it is presented in an open matte transfer. This immediately garners a lower grade than had we had the same transfer in widescreen. Add to this the washed out colors, and the excessive grain present in many shots, and we see a transfer that is below DVD standards in just about every way.

Image Transfer Grade: D-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Cujo's mono mix sounds wonderfully cramped. The dialogue is flat and tinny, and the sound effects and score are a joke.

Audio Transfer Grade: D-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras on this disc. None.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Cujo is silly, not scary. It's as simple as this: don't see it. Even if you like the movie, Artisan's featureless disc with a terrible full-frame transfer and subpar sound should be enough to keep all but the most ardent Cujo-crazy fans at bay.


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