Silver Bullet (1985) Review

Since The Dark Tower is hitting theaters today and I likely won’t get to the theater to see it in the near future I decided that I would check out another Stephen King movie that I had never seen. There are a handful of his movies on sale at the Cineplex store so I happened to pick Silver Bullet. A werewolf film based on King’s short story Cycle of the Werewolf.

The film is set in 1976 in a small town that begins to be terrorized by something. It is originally believed to be a crazed killer but as the bodies start to pile up a pair of kids and their uncle realize that it could be the work of a werewolf. For some reason we get way less werewolf films than we get zombie movies and ghost movies. I don’t know if its because no one can do better than An American Werewolf in London or there just isn’t as much you can do with a werewolf as those other creatures, but I always find werewolf movies a little more entertaining because they are maybe a little more fresh.

The film is adapted from a King work but the script is also written by King after he didn’t approve of the first draft. He’s was basically at the peak of his powers in 1985. So much so that the film is actually called Stephen King’s Silver Bullet which is rare for someone who is only the screenwriter. What King has to offer is a handful of memorable characters, but I think its really the cast that makes the movie so watchable because the scares have dried up a bit. There are some classic King moments. A kid dies and I’m pretty sure that Stephen King loves to kill children in his work.

Corey Haim plays Marty, a young boy in a wheelchair and he and his sister Jane begin to follow the tracks of this werewolf after Marty has an encounter with it. Jane is the narrator of the story and it gives the film a bit of a coming of age feel alongside the horror. The siblings are unable to take down the werewolf himself so they try to convince their drunken uncle Red, played beautifully by Gary Busey to help them bring an end to the town’s paranoia by killing the werewolf.

Not to take away from the pretty solid child acting but Gary Busey is by far the highlight of the movie. Its nice to look back and see how great of an actor he was in this era before he became a bit of a joke. He plays the voice of reason despite being a drunken loudmouth. Busey obviously improvises a lot when onscreen and provides a solid amount of humor. Uncle Red is a role model to Marty but kind of a terrible one. This dude gives his nephew a rocket powered wheelchair (called the Silver Bullet) that is as fast as a car and lets him drive it on the road. Marty gets in a pretty cool car chase with the wheelchair that is one reason this film is worth watching. The film obviously never takes itself too seriously for this reason. There are a lot of fun moments between Busey and the kids and they become a pretty likeable group overall.

Believe it or not the main issue I had with the film was the werewolf itself. It stays in the shadows until over halfway through the movie so when it is finally revealed I was expecting a great first look but didn’t really get. The practical effects are pretty great as a whole but the werewolf was a let down. The costume seems really cheap and doesn’t hold up at all. It just looks like someone in a Halloween costume. You can see in the picture above. I don’t think the people involved in the production really liked the costume either but with deadlines looming they didn’t really have a choice but to use it.

The rest of the cast is fairly capable too. Twin Peak’s Everett McGill and Terry O’Quinn from LOST and The Stepfather both appear in fairly important roles too. Silver Bullet certainly isn’t anywhere near the best Stephen King adaptation but its fun and its no where near the worst.

Silver Bullet gets 60 out of 100.


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