The general public often only gets to see the more glamorous side of Hollywood, from red carpet premieres to celebrities galavanting around town with famous friends. The level of stress that filming a movie can put an actor under will vary from production to production, with a horror film being one of the more intense experiences an actor can embark upon. According to Cujo star Dee Wallace, making the Stephen King adaptation was a far-cry from the vision many would have of making a movie.
In the film, a lovable St. Bernard chases a rabbit down a rabbit hole, only to get attacked by a rabid bat. The disease begins to manifest itself in the animal, causing the normally well-mannered Cujo to begin attacking and terrorizing those around him. Wallace plays a mother who takes her son out to run an errand who gets caught in Cujo's crosshairs, trapping the family in their car in hopes of avoiding mayhem.
Wallace recently spoke to The A.V. Club about the experience, as well as some of the other horror films she starred in over the years.
Wallace might not have undergone an intense amount of physical activity throughout the course of the film, but the emotional journey she went on was exhausting.
"Cujo was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s the film I’m proudest of," she confessed. "You know, how far can you break down? When do you break down? How do you break down? It was just relentless. At the end of it, they treated me for exhaustion for three weeks afterwards.
She added, "I’m still on adrenal supplements, because I just blew out all my adrenals! People don’t understand that when an actor goes through any kind of emotional stuff, your body chemically goes through it exactly like you were in fight-or-flight in your life. I was in maximum fight-or-flight for weeks."
The interviewer pointed out that the film doesn't contain much technology and,
Wallace agreed, saying, "Yeah, it still holds up. It’s just amazing how that film came together, all the different parts. Thank god for Karl Miller, thank god for Lewis Teague, and thank god for Dan Blatt, who also produced The Howling. He was a classy producer."
Cujo has a lasting legacy, with the name being directly connected to the concept of a crazed dog. To pull off the image of a horrifying dog, Wallace revealed the responsibilities were shared amongst multiple animals.
"Well, there were 13 of them," she explained. "And they were all trained so well by Karl Miller. All trained to go after different toys for different tricks."
Wallace received a resurgence in her career with the help of Rob Zombie casting her in his films Halloween and The Lords of Salem.
Of the filmmaker, Wallace gushed, "I adore Rob Zombie. I do! I adore Rob and Sheri [Moon Zombie, Rob’s wife]. I think he’s a genius in many different areas: music, directing, and writing. He likes to do his own thing, and he’s kind of out there, but he is genuinely one of the sweetest, nicest people I’ve ever worked with."
Wallace's character meets her demise in Halloween, but, apparently, Zombie wanted to ensure the actress got the kind of death she deserved.
Wallace admitted, "I was supposed to die when I was going down the bookcase, but three weeks later the producers called me and said, 'We need you to come back.' I said, 'But I’m already dead.' They said, 'Rob wants to kill you better!' So I went back, and that’s when we shot me crawling through the floor and into the other room and going to the table and all that."