- Movie Rating -

Silver Bullet (1985)

| October 11, 1985

The legacy of the werewolf is silly all by itself.  Let’s face it, the notion of person who turns into a fur-bearing monster by the light of the full moon is logistically hilarious.  It begs the question of what happens to a werewolf as the clouds pass by the moon.  Does he keep changing and changing back?  What about the other phases of the moon?  I recall a cartoon in MAD Magazine years ago in which a man became half of a werewolf at the sight of a half moon.  Makes you wonder what happens during a lunar eclipse.

That kind of detachment of logic is largely what kills a movie like Silver Bullet.  It’s not just bad, you’re laughing at how bad it is.  I don’t know if this was the intention of Stephen King, who pried this from his own short novella “Cycle of the Werewolf” (unread by me) but I can say that is only goes to prove that he’s a novelist and not a screenwriter.

The movie takes place in one of those idyllic movie towns where everyone knows each other, the wind is always blowing and the citizenry is made up of types – the mean old man, the haunted parent, the beleaguered mayor, the housewife, etc.  So that means, of course, that the town is besieged by horrors beyond their understanding and the old people who understand it aren’t old enough to drive.

The movie takes place in 1976 so that the story can be told back to us in narration by the person remembering it.  She is Jane Coslaw, who remembers how sleepy and uneventful the town use to be until the unpleasantness.  The town is Tarker’s Mills, Maine, the kind of town found in nearly every King novel where things look normal but the people are either beatific saints or indifferent sinners.  Much of the action around town takes place at the local watering hole where mean old drunk down whiskey and beer and maintain their status as poster children for poor life choices.

In a short time, local railroad worker is found decapitated, a pregnant woman is attacked in her home and a man is found torn to shreds in his green house.  The point of view of all of this madness is little Jane Coslaw, a local girl whose brother Marty (Corey Haim) is a paraplegic, and whose Uncle Red (Gary Busey) is a washed-out drunk.  The kids know that there is a werewolf afoot, and eventually their uncle comes around.  But who is old wolfy?  The movie keeps that a secret for a long time but the viewer clues in right away.

Yeah, there is the standard kids-facing-off-against-the-monster story but much of the film deals with little Marty and his adventures in that wheelchair.  It takes up so much of the plot that you begin wondering why the movie even needed a werewolf.  Red gives him a new chair, that is slick and souped-up and named The Silver Bullet (aiy!)  The kid learns to do wheelies and gets adept at moving around in it and so we are not surprised that he can outrun the villain’s car.  It has to be seen to be believed.

I’m not sure where the movie should have been focused because I’m not sure of the point.  Either we get a kid in a wheelchair or we get a werewolf story.  Why do we get both in the same movie?  It feels awkward.  As a family story, it feels like a bad TV movie.  As a horror movie, it feels like a student film about a bunch of local ya-hoos who form a posse to go look for the werewolf and kid picked off one by one.  Either way, it’s doesn’t do much for the ridiculous lore of the werewolf nor for King as a writer.  Better luck next full moon.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Horror