Silver Bullet

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In fourth grade I took Stephen King’s Cycle Of The Werewolf out from my public library. It was Halloween season and my best friend and I thrilled to Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations and King’s stories. At that time Wrightson’s werewolf drawings were the goriest illustrations that I had ever seen. That experience solidified my lifelong interest in lycanthropy.

Silver Bullet (1985) doesn’t ignite the imagination the same way that the novella did. Stephen King, in adapting his work for the screen, lost some of the mystery and a general sense of dread. Cycle Of The Werewolf felt like folklore while Silver Bullet feels like a children’s horror film. Daniel Attias’ direction is effective and eerie, but if Don Coscarelli had stayed on the production I imagine that Silver Bullet would have had more heart and an overall feeling of childhood wonder.

The core conflict between Everett McGill’s homicidal preacher and Corey Haim’s Wiz Kid is right out of Night Of The Hunter (1955). McGill is tremendous as the villain and really hams it up. But the strength of Silver Bullet isn’t in Haim’s sleuthing or McGill’s ominous performance. It’s the odd little asides that add local color and a sense of place to the film that are the strongest points. King really captures Southern blue-collar culture and language really well.

Silver Bullet is a cult classic now and how could it not be with Gary Busey freaking out the way he does? In comparison to The Howling (1981) and An American Werewolf In London (1981) the effects in Silver Bullet leave something to be desired. But Silver Bullet, like so many movies based on King’s books, is ultimately a children’s film and on that front it works.