Cujo and The Inclusion Of The Supernatural

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CriticAndProud

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2013
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Australia
I re-read Cujo over the last couple of days, and I was kinda surprised with how heavily it leant on drawing comparisons between Cujo and Frank Dodd/the entity and the cupboard. I remembered it as having only some mild allusions to the supernatural, but it really seemed to go out of its way to suggest that there is more to the situation than just a rabid dog. While I enjoyed the book overall, I honestly think that tying the story to the supernatural makes it lose some of its impact, by taking a feasible story into the realm of the fantastic unnecessarily. I think it would have worked even better if it were more like Misery, entirely devoid of the supernatural. A minor complaint, but I am curious to see if anyone feels the same way.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
85,409
342,139
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Cambridge, Ohio
I re-read Cujo over the last couple of days, and I was kinda surprised with how heavily it leant on drawing comparisons between Cujo and Frank Dodd/the entity and the cupboard. I remembered it as having only some mild allusions to the supernatural, but it really seemed to go out of its way to suggest that there is more to the situation than just a rabid dog. While I enjoyed the book overall, I honestly think that tying the story to the supernatural makes it lose some of its impact, by taking a feasible story into the realm of the fantastic unnecessarily. I think it would have worked even better if it were more like Misery, entirely devoid of the supernatural. A minor complaint, but I am curious to see if anyone feels the same way.
...I waffle back and forth between thinking it was superfluous and if it added depth...
 

mal

content
Jun 23, 2007
4,178
23,546
57
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I agree that the inclusion of the supernatural was not needed, the story would have had the same strong impact. I don't think it detracted from it. I read it so long ago that I only vaguely remember something about the bats being 'mystical' (for lack of a better word) or them having a history? I could be barking up a tree about the bats, it's been a long time. I think a re-read is in order!
 

RichardX

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2006
1,713
4,312
I felt the supernatural elements detracted from Rose Madder but not so much Cujo. At the time King was strictly considered a "horror" novelist and it was sort of his leitmotiv. It gave the Cujo an even more sinister vibe that I think complemented the real life nastiness of the book.
 

kingricefan

All-being, keeper of Space, Time & Dimension.
Jul 11, 2006
29,289
122,348
Spokane, WA
I agree it wasn't really necessary. I had a similar issue with Rose Madder, I thought it would have been more effective without the supernatural element.
King could have written a very powerful spousal abuse novel here if he had only left out the supernatural elements. One that could have given him a much needed cross-over element- meaning that it would have sold a gazillion copies to the mainstream literary types and probably would have been featured on Oprah in her book club. I could be wrong but I think the publisher forced him to include some type of supernatural element as that's what he was known for at that point in his career.
 

kingricefan

All-being, keeper of Space, Time & Dimension.
Jul 11, 2006
29,289
122,348
Spokane, WA
That I would doubt, no one tells SK what to do. I'm guessing in fact it was his idea. It's what he's most comfortable with.
I had a conversation with Marsha before and she did in fact tell me that a publisher did indeed 'suggest' that a supernatural element be included in a novel, but I'm not positive that it was Rose Madder. Maybe she could clear it up when the board opens on Tuesday? Moderator Or maybe I'm just hallucinating or having a senior moment.....:icon_eek:;-D
 

Neesy

#1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side
May 24, 2012
59,663
228,507
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I had a conversation with Marsha before and she did in fact tell me that a publisher did indeed 'suggest' that a supernatural element be included in a novel, but I'm not positive that it was Rose Madder. Maybe she could clear it up when the board opens on Tuesday? Moderator Or maybe I'm just hallucinating or having a senior moment.....:icon_eek:;-D
You silly old fart! :yes_pig:

But seriously - I kind of liked the fantasy element in that one (but I have always liked the supernatural/fantasy etc. like The Chrysalids for example).
 

Dynamo

Well-Known Member
May 12, 2017
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Denton, TX
Yeah, I mentioned the same thing in the "Ending Of Cujo" thread and it's my main gripe with the book. Not just because it feels unnecessary to me but because I find it distracting and it doesn't really fit with the rest of the story. It's a great premise for a horror story because it's plausible and plays on a natural fear that we all have. Even those of us who aren't wary about dogs want nothing to do with a rabid one. Add the supernatural element and it stops being "scary because it could happen" and just starts being a supernatural yarn that's fun to read but no longer all that scary.
 

raperm

Active Member
Aug 22, 2016
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I didn't care for it, either. I much prefer it as a totally natural occurrence; no supernatural aspect needed. Had the same issue with The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, with her hallucinations of a "monster" that was just a bear. The bear alone is scary enough; no need to add the rest.
 

Gerald

Well-Known Member
Sep 8, 2011
1,790
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The Netherlands
I always saw it as a minor idea of the novel and it didn't take away at all from me enjoying it. In the film they took it out altogether and it wasn't missed. SK was not entirely satisfied with the book (and the film is among his favourite adaptations), but I don't think he ever said why he wasn't and if it was because of this element. I believe that it was just that general feeling of expecting the book to be something 'more' or 'better'.
Still it has often been regarded as one of his best books for sheer horror impact, and certainly the most mentioned in other films in general.
 
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Joseph Burdette

Well-Known Member
Jul 26, 2018
74
265
38
West Virginia
I think this was a way that, if someone protested that they wanted a super natural, he could point and say 'look see, I did it". But I don't know anyone who wanted a ghost story in Cujo. The whole Frank Dodd thing is just a mcguffin. Cujo doesn't need supernatural any more than Ger lad's Game or Deloris Claiborne needed the who eclipse meeting. They could stand on their own, like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption or Apt Pupil.

Personally I do't think ol Frank was in Cujo. Cujo was Cujo. It's his 'spirit' that comes back to face Gaunt at the end of Needful Things.

Now, the only supernatural nod to Cujo that I accept is his mentioning in Pet Sematry. Castle Rock and Ludlow aren't that far apart...
 
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