Thursday, 2 June 2016

From Hellflix They Came #1: Silver Bullet (1985)

Silver Bullet is a 1985 horror film. Directed by Dan Attias and starring Corey Haim (The Lost Boys), Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon), Everett McGill (The People Under the Stairs) and Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather, Lost). The film is Stephen King’s adaptation of his own novella “The Cycle of the Werewolf”.

The film is set in Tarker Mills, a sleepy new England town. Marty (Haim) is a 10 year old boy in a wheelchair with only his crazy Uncle Red (Busey) for amusement. Suddenly the town is gripped by a series of gruesome murders perpetrated by a suspected werewolf. When Sheriff Haller (O’Quinn) fails to uncover the true identity of the beast, and a group of vigilante locals also come up short, Marty and his sister Jane take it upon themselves to solve the mystery. Despite being happy to supply Marty with illegal fireworks and a high powered wheelchair-cum-motorbike (the titular Silver Bullet), uncle red is initially reluctant to believe the bizarre story and help the children. However, after being confronted with hard evidence that the beast walks among them, the three of them devise a plan to end the curse and save the town.

Silver Bullet isn’t one of the better King adaptations, which seems to be an ironic side effect when he adapts his own books, but by no means the worst either. It boasts a really strong cast that holds the film together, particularly the chemistry between Haim and Busey and the movie is a lot of fun, despite not featuring too much of the werewolf (perhaps for the best considering the special effects). There’s a lot of outrageous dialogue, mostly referring to “the cripple”, which hugely dates the film but the sight of Corey Haim (playing a disabled 10 year old) ripping up and down the country lanes on his motorbike is really something to behold.

It’s a shame most of the gore from the book doesn’t really make it into the film but I suppose they were aiming for somewhat of a family friendly horror film. All the subplots are set up well but they do seem to have trouble drawing them together, perhaps another symptom of the book being set over the course of a year. The only thing that really irritated me about the film was the inexplicable voice over by Marty’s sister. There’s no context for the movie being a flashback and the technique is used so infrequently that it makes no sense.

As a werewolf movie, Silver Bullet doesn’t really hit the mark. But as a Stephen King movie, it feels thoroughly authentic and is filled with so much 80s cheese and fantastic performances, you’ll probably forget it’s meant to be a werewolf film. If nothing else, fans of Gary Busey will leave satisfied.

*** 3 Stars

Have you seen Silver Bullet? How does it rank among King adaptations?


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