The film begins with a rabbit hopping out of its hole, when a St. Bernard chases it, until it stops and curiously sticks its nose in a bat cave, and a rabid bat bites its nose. The Trentons – Vic, Donna and their son Tad – are an upper-middle-class suburban family. Vic works in advertising, Donna is a housewife and Tad is a sensitive little boy who has a strong fear of monsters in his closet. One day, the Trenton family takes their car to the rural home of abusive mechanic Joe Camber for some repairs, where they meet Cujo (the dog in the beginning) – the Camber family’s easy-going St. Bernard who still has the bite on his nose received from the bat while chasing the rabbit in the cave. Donna suspiciously notices the bite but thinks little of it. Vic and Donna’s marriage on the rocks is tested when Vic learns that Donna is having an affair with her ex-boyfriend from high school, Steve Kemp, while Vic’s advertising for a cereal commercial is failing and he tries to save his marriage with Donna. After Joe’s wife, Charity, and her son, Brett, leave for a week to visit her sister, Holly, Cujo’s bite from the rabid bat drives him mad, and he kills the Camber’s alcoholic neighbor, Gary Pervier, and Joe in the garage, who attempts to call the authorities for help and fails to defend himself from his now rabid dog. Meanwhile, Vic goes out of town on a business trip as Donna and Tad return to the Cambers’ house for more car repairs where Cujo attacks them (with Donna presumably realizing the reason of the bite on Cujo’s nose). Donna and Tad take shelter in their Ford Pinto as Tad tries to convince Donna to drive home, but the alternator dies and the two are trapped. Therefore, they are forced to stay inside their car while Cujo attacks repeatedly. The hot sun makes conditions nearly unbearable and Donna knows that she must do something, before they both die from heatstroke or dehydration. Attempts at escape, however, are foiled by the mad Cujo’s repeated attacks. Vic returns home to rekindle his marriage, only to find Donna and Tad missing and his house vandalized by Kemp. He suspects the possessive Steve Kemp of kidnapping, but then realizes his wife and son might be at the Camber’s residence. The local Sheriff comes to the house for a brief standoff, before Cujo brutally kills him, knocking him off the catwalk and biting him. Meanwhile, Donna takes advantage of a momentary distraction and hits Cujo with a baseball bat until it breaks off, leaving only a jagged handle. Cujo jumps at her and is impaled in the stomach by the broken bat. Donna then breaks the back window of the Pinto with the sheriff’s revolver and retrieves Tad, as Cujo broke all of the door handles. As Donna revives the dehydrated and over-heated Tad in the house, a recovered Cujo breaks through the kitchen window and tries one final attempt to kill them, but Donna fatally shoots him just as Vic arrives and is reunited with Donna and Tad.
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