Where was Cujo filmed?
Mendocino and Santa Rosa, California
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Love dogs? You might feel a little differently about man’s best friend after watching Cujo. This 1983 horror film, based on a novel by a master of the genre Stephen King, is every dog lover’s worst nightmare.
Cujo tells the story of Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace), a lonely housewife who has just moved to Castle Rock, Maine, with her husband Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly) and son Tad (Danny Pintauro). Donna’s marriage is well and truly on the rocks after Vic discovers Donna’s affair with a tennis instructor.
To make matters worse, Vic’s business is failing, and he’s forced to head out of town for a while and leave Donna and Tad at home. And the Trentons are about to cross paths with another local family, the Cambers, in terrifying fashion.
Joe Camber (Ed Lauter) is a local mechanic who also happens to violently abuse his wife Charity (Kaiulani Lee) and young son Brett (Billy Jayne). Brett’s life is a sad one indeed, and the only ray of sunshine in many of his days is the family’s lovable St Bernard, a gentle giant named Cujo.
But that gentle giant is about to become a rabid monster. When Cujo chases a rabbit and ends up getting bitten by a bat, his behavior starts to become erratic, violent, and downright frightening. Cujo attacks and kills the Cambers’ neighbor, Gary (Mills Watson), then turns his ferocious glare on Joe, killing him too.
And when Donna and Tad drive their broken-down car to the Camber house for Joe to fix, little do they know the horror that awaits. Trapped in the car with no escape, and with the rabid, rampaging Cujo sensing blood, Donna faces a desperate battle to save herself and her son.
Today, Cujo is regarded as a cult classic. And the good news is that if you want to check out some of the locations where the best scenes in Cujo were filmed, you won’t have to go too far.
The Trenton family home, for example, is found on Crestwood Drive in Mendocino. The house looks a whole lot different in real life, however, as the home’s facade was specially constructed for the film in the pretty oceanfront location. The interiors for the Trenton home weren’t shot in the same spot, and were instead filmed in a mansion on Nielsen Road in Santa Rosa.
Several other Cujo film shoot locations are also found in this part of California. These include the house of the Cambers’ neighbor, Gary Pervier, Marshall’s Body Shop, and the house of tennis instructor Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone).
But the most important Cujo action scenes were of course filmed at the Camber family farm, which can be found on D Street in Petaluma and is where Donna and Tad faced their desperate fight for survival. If you’re keen to check out the best locations from Cujo, this is one spot you’ll definitely want to visit.
Cujo was played by multiple St Bernards, with some sources claiming as many as 13 dogs were used. However, some scenes also required the use of a mechanical dog or a man dressed in a dog suit.
Vic heads out of town scene in Cujo
44777 Crestwood Drive
For Vic Trenton, life ain’t going all that great. His wife has had an affair, and following a disastrous advertising campaign, his ad agency is in almost as much trouble as his marriage. And when it rains it pours, as a frustrated Vic can’t even manage to fix Donna’s troublesome car, while a devastated Tad struggles to come to terms with the fact that his dad is leaving town on a business trip.
Vic manages to reassure his son that all will be okay while he’s gone, and plans to take the car to Joe Camber’s for the mechanic to work on it. But as Vic hops in his car and prepares to leave for his business trip, he mentions to Donna that he forgot to take the car to Joe. “I’ll take care of it,” she mutters as Vic drives away. If only Donna knew what was lying in wait for her out at the Camber house!
The facade of the Trenton family home, with its spectacular ocean views, was built around a home at 44777 Crestwood Drive in Mendocino. You can find it about 100 miles northwest of Santa Rosa. Interestingly, many interior scenes in the Trenton home were shot at a different home, which itself is found at 3415 Nielsen Road, Santa Rosa.
Cujo kills Gary Pervier scene in Cujo
7301 Sonoma Mountain Road
The first 40-odd minutes of Cujo is something of a slow burn. As the tension builds and Cujo’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, the audience is just waiting for the massive dog to snap. That eventually happens in spectacular fashion, and the Cambers’ neighbor Gary Pervier is the unfortunate soul on the receiving end of Cujo’s rage.
As he empties garbage onto a trash pile, Gary is clearly unsettled to hear a menacing growl coming from the shadows. He eyes Cujo nervously, realizing that something is not quite right with his neighbors’ dog. “Cujo, what are you growling at?” he asks suspiciously, then decides to make a run for it.
The terrified man flees, but tripping on his porch he’s set upon by the hulking, vicious dog. A desperate struggle ensues, and Gary eventually throws Cujo off and runs inside his house. “You are dead, you stupid son of a bitch,” Gary growls, frantically trying to load his shotgun. But he’s too slow, and Cujo breaks through a window and mauls him to death in grisly, gruesome scenes.
Want to know where these memorable Cujo action scenes were filmed? You can find Gary’s house at 7301 Sonoma Mountain Road in Glen Ellen, California. It’s about 12 miles southeast of Santa Rosa, and you’ll need to be willing to tackle quite a narrow, winding road to get there.
Donna and Tad arrive at the Cambers’ house scene in Cujo
D Street in Petaluma
With Vic out of town trying to save his business, Donna and Tad are left to fend for themselves. So when Donna’s ailing Ford Pinto starts to show signs of giving up the ghost, she and Tad drive out to the secluded Camber residence to see whether Joe can fix it. Little do they know, however, that Cujo’s murderous rampage has already begun.
The car dies just as the mother and son arrive at the farm, and Donna tells Tad they’ve arrived. “Yeah, but is anybody home?” the boy asks innocently. It’s a fair question, as the place seems completely deserted, with both Joe and Gary already killed by Cujo.
Donna hops out of the car but Tad’s seatbelt is stuck. So, oblivious to the approaching danger, Donna sits back in the car and struggles to release the belt. But just when the camera angle makes it seem like Cujo is sneaking up behind her, the rabid dog instead leaps up in front of her at Tad’s open window.
The bloodied dog is foaming at the mouth, barking and growling, just inches away from Tad, and Donna frantically winds the window up to keep the dog at bay. But with Cujo prowling outside and the car refusing to start, Donna and her terrified son are now trapped.
The Camber family farm is at Scott Ranch, on D Street in Petaluma. You’ll find it about 20 miles south of Santa Rosa, quite close to Helen Putnam Regional Park.
The mere mention of the name Cujo is enough to send a shiver down many a spine. This 1983 horror classic contains many chilling scenes, including a few that you’ll remember long after the credits have stopped rolling. Of the many great Stephen King horror films, this tale of a rabid canine killer has definitely stood the test of time.
Best of all, it’s easy to check out several iconic Cujo locations in and around the Santa Rosa area. So if you’re a film buff planning a Bay Area day trip, why not check out some of the fantastic Cujo settings featured here? We promise you won’t encounter any possessed St Bernards along the way!