Silver Bullet (1985)
aka Stephen King’s Silver Bullet …. by way of Producer Dino De Laurentiis.
Cartoonish and bloody seems to be a good choice of words in describing Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf adaptation for the big screen. King is the credited screenplay writer on the film as well.
I didn’t catch if this was set in the fictitious Castle Rock like some of King’s other tales, but the townsfolk are on the lookout for a serial killer of sorts after the likes of James Gammon are turning up mutilated in the early morning light. The tale is narrated though it doesn’t need to be by Megan Follows character who is the older sister of the wheel chair bound Corey Haim. Like most young siblings they have their differences.
The family is off to church on Sunday morning to listen in on Everett McGill deliver a sermon only to awake the next day with another woman’s body torn to pieces. This one in a little more graphic detail and the appearance of a man sized wolf. The townsfolk are getting a bit nervous and contemplating vigilante styled action as they gather at Lawrence Tierney’s bar where the future Reservoir Dog plays it tough.
Into the story comes Haim’s Uncle and bad boy hero played by none other than Gary Busey. Busey’s a hard drinker, three time loser at the altar. But in his nephew’s eyes he’s a man among men as we all know Gary to be off camera as well. Busey dotes on his crippled nephew and custom designs him a motorised wheel chair dubbed The Silver Bullet. Time for a couple more mutilated victims including a young friend of Haim’s which sets the vigilante squad lose despite pleas from clergyman McGill not to take the law into their own hands. They should have heeded his advice as more than one of the squad’s members should have just stayed home. This turned into one of the film’s better scenes as the heavy fog kept all from knowing who was next to feel the grip and teeth of the werewolf.
At about the half way point, the film turns more towards Haim and Follows as they track a werewolf after Haim has a very close call with the creature late at night. He leaves the beast with a nasty wound leading his sister to scour the town looking for matching injury on a citizen within. This is where the fun really starts. Now if they can just get Uncle Gary to believe their story.
Silver Bullet proved to be a likable flick during the VHS days and another in the line of King adaptations that were rapidly turning up in movie houses across the continent. The werewolf should come as no surprise based on the casting alone. The actor makes for an intimidating presence when in human form but it’s the werewolf suit/make up that is somewhat of a letdown. The creature is too friendly looking for my taste. That’s likely because by the time of this film’s release on the home video market, I had already been exposed to An American Werewolf In London and The Howling.
The heavy dose of blood thrown about seems to give the film an uneven tone. At times it’s like one is watching an episode of The Hardy Boys with Haim front and center trying to track a demon in a made for TV production, then a teddy bear of a werewolf turns up only to splash red stuff about and scare the hell out of everyone. Just doesn’t mix right.
According to the trivia link at IMDB, this was first to be directed by Phantasm’s Don Coscarelli. I’d like to have seen that version. As it is we have Daniel Attias in the director’s chair. Still directing today for television and cable, this would appear to be his only theatrical credit.
Far from bad, far from great, but it’ll do and that’s mainly thanks to our villain who shall remain nameless. You’ll have to see for yourself.