Legendary horror novelist Stephen King is revisiting an old classic of his, albeit in a bit of a strange way. During an episode of Bloody Disgusting‘s The Loser’s Club podcast, King came on for his first-ever interview for the site and was asked about some of his latest work which included a new novella titled Rattlesnakes. While he kept most of the details of the book close to the vest, he did drop one bombshell about the snake-centric horror tale — it will be a sequel of sorts to the dog-centric horror tale Cujo.
Cujo is King‘s 1981 psychological horror classic that sees the titular good boy Saint Bernard turned into evil incarnate thanks to rabies from a bat bite. It’s a remarkably bleak book, centering on the Trenton family who is dealing with the fallout of Donna’s affair, and the Camber family who is frequently abused by patriarch Joe. While the two families are dealing with their own separate issues, Cujo’s illness festers and eventually threatens the lives of both the Trentons and Cambers. It was eventually adapted into a slightly less bleak movie starring Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly, and Danny Pintauro which slowly became a cult classic among horror fans.
It’s unclear what exactly the connection between Cujo and Rattlesnakes is. There are some seemingly shared themes between the two books with the focus being on an uncontrollable evil affecting the lives of people by random happenstance. Cujo, however, has the added horror of the killings being perpetrated by a once-beloved family pet, only ramping up its bleak nature. The book never really sets itself up for a follow-up though. It’s entirely possible that Rattlesnakes is simply meant to be a spiritual successor, though it could still bring back some of its younger characters, like Cujo’s former owner and Joe Camber’s son Brett to continue the misfortune.
One thing that does ring very similar between the two books is that neither is afraid to put children in danger. King unveiled a grisly scene from the upcoming novella that highlights just how unrelenting evil and the violence of nature can be. “I just wrote a long story called Rattlesnakes. And it involves, at one part, twins who are only four years old… falling into a rattlesnake pit,” King told The Loser’s Club. “And the snakes get ’em. It’s a terrible scene.” It harkens back to scenes of a rabies-infected Cujo desperately trying to get inside the Trentons’ rapidly overheating Ford Pinto to kill Donna and her young son Tad, all while the threat of dehydration loomed over the two.
While King continues to work on his latest stories, the film industry is working hard in the background to adapt more and more of his work. Most recently, the new adaptation of Firestarter starring Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Zac Efron hit theaters, albeit to less-than-favorable reviews from critics and audiences. There’s also the highly-anticipated adaptation of Salem’s Lot coming later this year that’ll bring his vampire tale to theaters.
Cujo casts a long shadow in King‘s horror pantheon, but if Rattlesnakes looks to follow it up, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.