SILVER BULLET (1985) Reviews and overview

 

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‘Part human. Part wolf. Total terror.’

Silver Bullet is a 1985 American supernatural horror film based on the Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf. King adapted the screenplay himself. The film was directed by Dan Attias and produced by Dino De Laurentiis (King Kong). Artist Berni Wrightson illustrated an early edition of the novella.

The movie stars Gary Busey, Everett McGill, Megan Follows, Corey Haim (Watchers), Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather), Lawrence Tierney (Bloodrage), Bill Smitrovich, Kent Broadhurst, David Hart and James Gammon.

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Plot:

Smalltown, USA. All is peaceful, all is calm, or at least it is until a series of gruesome murders take place. The townspeople gather together to suggest various solutions and decide to send out a search party to track down the murderer. But when the search party is massacred, it seems that the only hope for the town might be a young handicapped boy and his sister, both of whom are convinced that the killings are the work of a werewolf…

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King asked that the werewolf be ambiguous, plain, and hard to see, in contrast to the hulking monsters seen in other werewolf films and books in the early-to-mid-1980s, with the end result being a creature which looked more like a black bear than anything else and did not really have any identifying characteristics. After seeing Carlo Rambaldi’s design, per King’s request, producer Dino de Laurentiis was very unhappy and demanded a change, which both King and Rambaldi refused.

Eventually, pre-production fell behind schedule and director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm and sequels) opted to start filming the non-werewolf scenes without knowing what would happen with the werewolf suit. After completing the non-werewolf scenes and not having any clear picture about what would happen with the film Coscarelli resigned as the director and was replaced with Attias.

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When pressured to either cancel the film or accept the design de Laurentiis relented and allowed filming to continue with Rambaldi’s werewolf suit. A modern dance actor was hired to perform the stunts inside the suit but de Laurentiis was also unhappy with his performance and demanded a change.

As a result, Everett McGill, who played Reverend Lester Lowe in human form, wound up acting out most of the scenes in the werewolf suit and was credited with a dual role.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

Silver Bullet is a goofy, unintentionally bad movie that transcends itself to become surprisingly entertaining. Where else can you see a werewolf monster that looks more like Fozzy Bear than a terrifying mutation of nature? The script is peppered with oddball dialogue and strange characters which could only come from the master of suspense (and sometimes crappy horror movies), Mr. King.” DVD Verdict

“Some good performances and strong scope photography make Silver Bullet an enjoyable if largely disposable offering, while some splashy dollops of gore make a valiant attempt to recapture the gruesome tableaux of Berni Wrightson’s illustrations for the original text version. As usual, the big problem lies in the fact that King’s dialogue simply doesn’t translate well to the screen– at all.” Mondo Digital

“As in so many film adaptations of King’s stories, the characters are drawn crudely and speak crassly, and thus come off as rather silly at points, but the movie still gets the job done, proving to yet another example of the “don’t worry/be afraid” dynamic so prevalent in the decade.” John Kenneth Muir, Horror Movies of the 1980s

Blu-ray releases:

Silver Bullet was released by Scream Factory as a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray disc on December 17th 2019. The new artwork is by Devon Whitehead (whose designs also grace Sleepwalkers; Silent Hill; The Green Inferno; Trick ‘r Treat; et al) the original poster will, of course, be reproduced on the reverse side. The special features are:

Audio commentary with producer Martha De Laurentiis (new)
Audio commentary with director Daniel Attias

Isolated score selections and audio interview with composer Jay Chattaway
Interview with actor Kent Broadhurst (new)
Interview with editor Daniel Loewenthal (new)
Interview with actor Everett McGill
Interview with special effects artists Matthew Mungle and Michael McCracken
Theatrical trailer
TV spot
Radio spot
Still gallery
In Stephen King

In January 2018, Australian company Umbrella Entertainment released Silver Bullet for the first time on Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary with Director Daniel Attias
The Wolf Within – An Interview with Actor Everett McGill
Full Moon Fever – Interviews with Special Effects Artists Michael McCracken, Jr. and Matthew Mungle
Dino’s Angel Takes on Lycanthropy: Martha De Laurentis Remembers Silver Bullet (25 minutes)
Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway
Theatrical Trailer (HD)
TV Spot
Radio Spot
Still Gallery

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Berni Wrightson art from the novella

Cast and characters:

Gary Busey … Uncle Red
Everett McGill … Reverend Lowe
Corey Haim … Marty Coslaw
Megan Follows … Jane Coslaw
Robin Groves … Nan Coslaw
Leon Russom … Bob Coslaw
Terry O’Quinn … Sheriff Joe Haller
Bill Smitrovich … Andy Fairton
Joe Wright … Brady Kincaid
Kent Broadhurst … Herb Kincaid
Heather Simmons … Tammy Sturmfuller
James A. Baffico … Milt Sturmfuller
Rebecca Fleming … Mrs Sturmfuller
Lawrence Tierney … Owen Knopfler
William Newman … Virgil Cuts

Technical details:

95 minutes
Technicolor
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Mono

Trailer: