Sunday 27 May 2012

Silver Bullet (1985)

Based on a novella by Stephen King, Cycle Of The Werewolf, this is an enjoyable, if unspectacular, horror movie with a distinct 80s charm to it and a decent cast with many familiar faces.

The tale is narrated by a reminiscing Jane Coslaw (Megan Follows is the actress depicting the younger version of Jane onscreen) but the main events focus on her wheelchair-bound brother, Marty (Corey Haim), and the fear that encases the small town that they live in after a series of violent and random murders. Marty starts to consider the possibility that the killer is a werewolf but nobody really wants to believe him. He can only hope to convince Jane and perhaps his Uncle Red (Gary Busey).

Fondly remembered by horror fans who caught this movie when it first hit cinemas and then video shelves, Silver Bullet is one of many movies that seems to keep getting a lot more love than it deserves. It's certainly not a bad movie but it falls quite far down the ladder when compared to other films in the werewolf subgenre.

The direction by Daniel Attias is unspectacular, and the screenplay by Stephen King includes a lot of his favourite tropes (the narration by someone recalling their youth, the small town residents turning on each other, the use of religion to defend some horrible actions, etc), but there are a few moments that keep the movie just above average. A search party looking for a killer as they wander through mist-covered ground is an undoubted highlight, anything showing actual werewolf activity is pretty good and the whole third act is a great mix of tension and fun.

However, the most fun comes from simply seeing such a great cast going along with all the furry fun. Corey Haim had so much success as a youngster that revisiting any of his past performances makes you remember with sadness just how much of his life he wasted before his death in 2010. The young lad was likeable and capable and starred in a number of firm favourites in the 1980s. Megan Follows is a fine young actress who does well but, despite the film being told from her point of view, things always liven up when it goes back to the male cast members. Gary Busey is great as Uncle Red, a man who gains the disapproval of his sister (Robin Groves) but retains the adoration of his nephew. Terry O'Quinn isn't given all that much to do, he's the typically ineffective small town sheriff that King loves to write, but he's always good to see onscreen. Lawrence Tierney may only have a small role but he's as tough as usual and Everett McGill is very good in the role of Reverend Lowe.

If you remember Silver Bullet with fondness then you won't revisit it and find that you now absolutely hate it, not at all, but I do think that you may find your reaction similar to mine - the movie is a bit of fun, an amusing "time capsule" for a number of reasons, but it's nothing worth going out of your way to rewatch.


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