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|“||It would perhaps not be amiss to point out that he had always tried to be a good dog. He had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He had never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor.||„|
|~ Stephen King about Cujo and his tragic fate.|
Cujo is the titular main antagonist of Stephen King's 1981 novel and its 1983 film adaptation of the same name and a minor antagonist in the 1985 film Cat's Eye. He was once a friendly and playful companion, but when he was bitten by a bat and contracted rabies, he went insane and was turned into a vicious killer that attacked anybody who came near him.
He was portrayed by Moe and his vocal sound effects were provided by Frank Welker.
Cujo was once the beloved St. Bernard of the Camber family, but was bitten by a rabid bat in the nose when his head got stuck in a bat cave while chasing a rabbit (which was shown at the beginning of the movie).
Cujo then went mad with rabies and killed any person he came across including one of his own owners, conducting a murderous reign of terror on Castle Rock.
In the end of both the book and movie, Cujo was seemingly killed by Tad Trenton's mother named Donna (who also tried to save her son from dying of heat stroke), by being shot by the sheriff's gun. In the novel, he was killed after being hit by a baseball bat.
When Sheriff Bannerman came, Cujo comes and attacks him, Donna who's desperate to save her son she grabs a baseball bat and attacks Cujo with the bat killing him in the process, however it's too late for her to save Tad as he died of dehydration and heatstroke. After Vic came Donna was rushed to the hospital, and Cujo's head is extracted for a biopsy to check for rabies before to the cremation of his remains.
Along with Christine, he makes a cameo appearance in the 1985 film Cat's Eye, where he chases the titular cat known as General. This might hint that Cujo was back to his old, friendly self (or alternatively that the movie took place before the events of Cujo).
Cujo is given some more insight in the novel while the film portrays him as merely a dog gone mad due to rabies. It is said in both versions that Cujo was a friendly dog that loved to play with the local children. After being bitten by a bat and unknowingly infected by the virus, he was afraid his master would be mad and think that he was a bad dog showing how much he thought of his owners and their opinions. When infected, Cujo starts to slowly lose his mind to where he could no longer recognize even his owners (the young Brett Camber) as human seeing them akin to actual monsters barely recognizing his voice and fights off the urge to kill the boy by leaving.
Based on Cujo's perspective, he seemingly only identifies them through small descriptions in all caps like: "THE BOY" and "THE MAN" when thinking of them. As the book progresses, we see that he does not kill for pleasure but due to some of their loud noises and other habits which intensifies his pain thus making him lose what little restraint he manages to retain. Cujo wants to be left alone after being infected to the point he is willing to kill those around him if needed. As his mind continues to deteriorate, Cujo becomes more violent and insane from the pain and starts to believe it is the people around him causing him to be sick.
It should be noted that Cujo isn't a villain by choice, or does he enjoy hurting these people. This makes Cujo one of the most tragic Stephen King villains if not the most tragic. One who wasn't even in control of his actions.
- Gary Pervier: Neck bitten out.
- Joe Camber: Face ripped off.
- George Bannerman: Knocked off of catwalk and mauled to death.
- Tad Trenton (book only, indirectly): Sunstroke and dehydration due being trapped in the car too long.
- In some scenes of the film, a painted Rottweiler was used since actual St. Bernards were not capable of performing convincing simulated attacks. The Rottweiler's tail was strapped to its leg to prevent it wagging and undermining the sense of fear.
- To make the dogs attack the car in the film, their favorite toys were placed in the car so they would try to get them.
- There was an early draft where Cujo was also going to be possessed by a spirit of a serial killer, but it was scrapped because it was seen as too outlandish and would detract from the fear the writers wished to portray in the film.
- However, it has still been theorized that Cujo was possessed by Frank Dodd, from another Stephen King book, The Dead Zone.
- 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. This tactic was missed once in the editing where they show Cujo from behind ready to attack and his tail is wagging energetically.
- A rumor has circulated that "Cujo" is an ancient Indian word meaning "unstoppable force". In reality, Stephen King made it up himself when writing the novel.
- Despite being the main antagonist, he has only around 15 minutes of screen-time in the film.
- Cujo is one of the far more tragic of Steven King's villains. The normal Cujo was a gentle giant, without a mean bone in his body. But he was infected with rabies, and the poor creature had lost his mind, not in full control of his actions. Killing him was actually a kindness as to end his suffering.
- Reggie from Disney's Lady and the Tramp II: Scamps Adventure is based on Cujo because he does have the same bad violent behavior as Cujo.
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