“It’s your oven, but it ain’t my bun ya got bakin’ in there, huh? See ya.”
Based on the Stephen King novel, Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet (1985) tells the story of tiny Tarker’s Mills and its nightmarish summer. A series of gruesome murders throws the town into a panic, with many of the residents wondering who the maniac is killing their neighbors. A handicapped boy named Marty Coslaw (Cory Haim) learns the horrifying truth: the killer is a werewolf. Nobody believes him.
Marty’s life falls apart around him as the murders continue. His best friend is killed, the town’s fireworks celebration is cancelled, and his insecure, jealous sister, Jane, turns against him. Even his favorite uncle, Red (Gary Busey), begins to think the boy is delusional. When Marty and his sister discover the identity of the werewolf, they must convince Red to believe them. And to melt a piece of jewelry into ammunition: a silver bullet.
Silver Bullet bears a strong resemblance to King’s novel, and it should. King provided the screenplay for Silver Bullet, ensuring his plot would not be turned on its head as it was in Kubrick’s The Shining.
The main characters – Marty, Jane (Megan Follows), Red, and the parents, are true to their characters in Cycle of the Werewolf. Busey, huge teeth and all, steals several scenes as the black sheep uncle, and Haim is sympathetic as a boy bound to his wheelchair. The production quality is strong, the small town setting is both gorgeous and convincing, and yet there seems to be something…missing…from this movie that prevents it from being an 80s classic.
One criticism I have for Silver Bullet is that it too often intersperses intentional comedy into scenes which should be pure terror. An example of this is the classic hunt through the fog, when the vigilantes unwittingly run into the werewolf. The camera shows a hunter’s hand holding a baseball bat and beating the werewolf. A second later, the werewolf’s hand emerges from the fog with the bat and turns the tables. I snicker every time I see this scene, as did most of the audience when I saw Silver Bullet in the theater. This scene had the potential to be quite frightening, and for some reason, the direction opted for comic relief.
Another criticism, echoed by many horror fans, is for the werewolf’s costume. Frankly, it doesn’t look “werewolfy” at all; if anything, it looks like a bear costume, so much so that for years I referred to the monster as a bearwolf. Or is it a werebear? Never mind.
But I’m nitpicking. The most important point to make is that Silver Bullet is a good horror movie with plenty of scares. It’s a popcorn-munching fun flick in the same way that Friday the 13th Part 2 is, yet Silver Bullet can be downright terrifying when it wants to be.
If I had to pick a most memorable scene from Silver Bullet, it would be the discovery of the blood-splattered kite after Corey’s friend, Brady, went missing. Just a simple visual, yet so effective. The big climax is full of heart-pounding tension, and even though I know how it turns out, it still creeps me out to this day.
While not an absolute gem, Silver Bullet is pretty darn good horror flick, a relic from a time when horror movies were a lot more fun, and not everything was about misdirection, trendy edits, and torture. We need more werewolves running amok.
You can find Silver Bullet on DVD at Amazon.