Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo by Lee Gambin

When Stephen King’s novel Cujo made it to the big screen, it made a huge impact. Man’s best friend had betrayed us, and even more so because it was the lovable St. Bernard breed, renowned for helping people. I’m sure that after watching Cujo, people were taking a second look at dogs and wondering. The terror was all the more real because the rabid bite that turned Cujo into a beast wasn’t supernatural. I’m a huge fan of books that take you behind the scenes of horror movies. Lee Gambin brings us an incredibly in-depth look at the movie with Nope, Nothing Wrong Here. That title is a phrase that makes multiple appearances throughout the movie.

The author takes us through the film scene by scene, examining the action and the wider cultural references around it, interspersed with interviews. The comprehensive nature of the book covers the soundtrack, the cinematography, and no stone is left unturned.

Besides the author’s examination of the film and discussion of the making there are some great images. Some of the gems include pages from Stephen King’s original screenplay draft, deleted scene stills, lobby cards, sheet music, and lots of behind the scene photographs. There are interviews with much of the team behind the movie. Gambin talks to director Lewis Teague, composer Charles Bernstein, makeup artists, and camera assistants. There are also extensive interviews with the cast including Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, and Daniel Hugh Kelly. The interviews all throughout the book provide fascinating insight into the film, the characters, and what they were trying to do with the film. I especially enjoyed hearing about directions that the plot was going to go in but didn’t for the final production. The part I was most looking forward to was the discussion of the pivotal siege scene where Cujo stalks a mother and son trapped in their broken down car.

At over 500 pages, you may be worried that such in-depth examination of one single movie might be boring. It didn’t launch a franchise, and there is no wider world built around it. However, that is absolutely not the case. It’s a fascinating read. You really get to know all the actors and crew. If behind the scenes books interest you, or if you have any fondness for Cujo, then you will love this book.

9/10

Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo Book Cover Blurb:

Based on the bestselling novel by prolific author Stephen King, Lewis Teague’s masterfully conceived, created and performed film adaptation of Cujo hit theatres in 1983 – a year that became a benchmark for King adaptations with both The Dead Zone and Christine also terrifying audiences around the same time. Cujo would impress critics and fans alike, and would be regarded as one of the most successful of King’s stories brought to the screen during the eighties.

The film would also showcase a phenomenal performance from star Dee Wallace, who throws herself into the rich and complicated part of alienated adulteress Donna Trenton, making it a true tour de force role for a woman. Along with Wallace’s poignant and dedicated control of the protagonist, this horror classic would feature some of the most thrilling and exhilarating animal action ever put to screen. Lead by dog trainer Karl Lewis Miller, the multiple St. Bernards used to portray the titular rabid canine would terrify hardened horror devotees with brilliantly orchestrated attack sequences during the film’s climactic siege sequence that would see Dee Wallace trapped inside a dead Ford Pinto with child actor Danny Pintauro along for the harrowing ride. With it’s sophistication and deep subversive intelligence, Cujo is a biting critique on the breakdown of the American family, an electric take on the “woman in the storm” story trope, a personal and introspective ecologically themed horror film (a subgenre usually socially and politically motivated) and a perfectly realised example of the power of circumstance. It also thoroughly scrutinizes fear – both real and imagined – in a sharp and magnetic manner.

Lee Gambin’s book analyses the entire film scene by scene – and along with the academic input there is exhaustive coverage of the production. This is the ultimate in “making of” books, where no stone has been left unturned. From the film’s problematic early days with originally assigned director Peter Medak being fired, to detailed insight into screenwriter Barbara Turner’s take on the source material, to Lewis Teague being brought in to take over as director along with cinematographer Jan de Bont and beyond, this definitive tome features over thirty candid interviews with cast and crew such as stars Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly and Danny Pintauro, director Lewis Teague, composer Charles Bernstein, as well as stunt man Gary Morgan who played Cujo in many scenes (care of a St Bernard costume). There are many more additional voices who were on set represented in the book such as Danny Pintauro’s parents as well as some highly deserving and loving insight about the late great animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller, from his daughter Teresa Ann Miller.