• The Saint Bernards used in the film adaptation of Cujo were not as terrifying as the character they portrayed, with their tails constantly wagging during filming.
  • Filmmakers had to tie down the dogs’ tails to make them appear less enthusiastic in scenes, and even used a rottweiler for some scenes due to the Saint Bernards’ behavior.
  • Despite the dogs’ lack of ferocity, Stephen King considers Cujo to be a “terrific” film adaptation, appreciating the director’s faithfulness to the novel and the overall interpretation of the horror.

A quality Stephen King horror film adaptation needs to be as terrifying as possible, but one classic King film, Cujo, almost wasn’t. Adaptations like Andy Muschiettit’s 2017 IT brought King’s villain to life through Bill Skarsgård’s incredible performance as Pennywise The Dancing Clown. While King may have despised Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, it’s undeniable that Jack Nicholson also embodied Jack Torrance.

Nonetheless, none of the actors behind these roles were as evil as the characters they were portraying. They had to really bring their acting chops to the table to portray such terrifying Stephen King villains. Unfortunately, a few actors weren’t so good at playing their shared villain role, and it nearly ruined the movie.

The Dogs Used In The Cujo Movie Wouldn’t Stop Wagging Their Tails

Stephen King's Cujo

The real-life Saint Bernards used in the adaptation of King’s Cujo were far from as terrifying as the film’s main character. The canine actors would have been better used in one of the several Beethoven movies, as they wouldn’t stop wagging their tails during filming. According to NYFA, the dogs’ tails had to be tied down during filming to prevent them from looking so enthusiastic, so much so that a tied-down tail is even visible in one of Cujo‘s scenes. Apparently, the dogs weren’t great at understanding the difference between play time and work time, which led filmmakers to use a rottweiler for several scenes.

Related: Cujo: Every Animal (& Human) Used In The Stephen King Movie Explained

It’s quite funny to hear such a frightening dog was played by such joyful actors. Though, it’s for the best that the hired Saint Bernards weren’t as vicious as the animal from King’s story. While using a Rottweiler in place of a Saint Bernard might feel like a betrayal to viewers who thought they were watching a vicious Saint Bernard the whole film, it’s not uncommon for filmmakers to play tricks on audiences for the benefit of the movie.

Why Stephen King Considers Cujo One Of Best Adaptations Of His Books

Cujo Stephen King

In a 2014 Interview with Rolling Stone, Stephen King called Cujo a “terrific” film adaptation. This means a lot to any filmmaker who remembers the harsh criticism King had for Kubrick’s The Shining. Despite changing Cujo‘s ending to be more satisfying for audiences, director Lewis Teague stayed mostly true to King’s novel, which the author likely appreciated. While the actors were nothing like Cujo in real life, and there was one scene that exposed the filmmakers’ technique to keep Cujo’s tail under control, the film interpreted the horror from King’s novel quite well. Stephen King’s love for Cujo could also be connected to his little memory of ever writing the story.

Sources: NYFA, IMDB, Rolling Stone

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