The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent Tony Farinella.
The work of Stephen King has usually produced highly entertaining and enjoyable films. Not everything has been great or even good, but for the most part, there is usually something to take away from them which is unique and falls right in line within the realm of King’s wonderful and twisted brain. That is definitely the case with “Silver Bullet,” which is based on his novella “Cycle of the Werewolf.” King also wrote the screenplay as well, so he was very hands-on with his approach to this film and in making sure his vision was seen clearly on screen. The fine folks over at Scream Factory have brought it back into the public eye with this special collector’s edition on Blu-ray.
The film was released in 1985, the year I was born, and it stars Corey Haim as Marty, a 13-year-old boy who is stuck in a wheelchair. Because of this, he tends to get special treatment from his family. This does not endear him to his sister Jane, played by Megan Follows. She feels as though her parents are always taking his side and that he can get away with anything and everything. He is also very popular with his Uncle Red, played by Gary Busey. Red is coming off his third divorce, and he is not shy about hitting the sauce as often as possible.
Deep down, however, Uncle Red has a lot of love and affection for Marty, and this leads him to build Marty a special wheelchair he names Silver Bullet which allows him to get around and have a little more fun. But suddenly, this quiet and quant town where they live gets turned upside down when they start to notice people are being killed off left and right. First, there was the local town drunk. And then a young child, an angry father and a pregnant woman also end up dead in a matter of days. The people of this small-town start to get restless and they want answers right away, but the local sheriff Joe Haller (Terry O’Quinn) is not able to provide them. Because of this, they decide to go out looking for some private justice of their own. Even the local Reverend Lowe (Everett McGill) doesn’t know what to say to the people anymore about the deaths which are occurring, and it is about to get worse before it can possibly get better.
“Silver Bullet” is only 94 minutes, but a lot happens in those 94 minutes. There is never really a dull moment or a scene which doesn’t make sense to the overall film. At times, the category it falls under can be a little confusing. Is it a straight up werewolf movie? Is it a horror movie about a werewolf for young children to watch? At times, the film goes full throttle with the gore which set up some gruesome and enjoyable death scenes. During other scenes, it cuts away from the gorier aspects of the killings. It seems to want to have its cake and eat it too.
What I mean by that is it wants to be accessible for young children as a horror movie they can watch, but it doesn’t want to go too far. Tonally, it seems to be trying to please young children and horror fans, and this is not an easy task to pull off. There is a brother/sister relationship which is something a lot of kids can relate to, and the kids are trying to get the adults to see there is a werewolf out there. On the other hand, they deal with topics such as divorce, suicide, and alcoholism. While the film worked for me, I could see it having a tough time finding an audience back when it was released.
According to IMDB, the budget was seven million dollars, and it grossed 12 million worldwide. It was not a total bust, but it didn’t set the world on fire either. That is why Scream Factory is perfect for films like “Silver Bullet.” I had never seen it in the past, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. The film has a good sense of humor, great performances from Haim, Follows and Busey, and it contains some pretty cool kills. I think it will find a whole new audience on with this collector’s edition Blu-ray.
* * * out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “Silver Bullet” is released on Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray from Shout Factory/Scream Factory. It has a running time of 94 minutes and is rated R.
Video Info: “Silver Bullet” is presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1), and it looks out of this world on Blu-ray for being thirty-four years old. At this point, we should expect no less from Scream Factory. They do not disappoint with their transfers, and there is not a single shot in the film which is grainy or dirty. It is clear, bright and filled with life.
Audio Info: The English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono is also top-notch. It must be mentioned that the music was composed by Jay Chattaway who will forever hold a place in my heart for his work on the “Maniac Cop” Rap. He does a great job with the music in knowing when to keep it calm and mellow and when to take it up a notch.
NEW Audio Commentary with Producer Martha De Laurentiis
NEW Cutting to The Bone – An Interview with Editor Daniel Loewenthal
NEW A Little Private Justice – An Interview with Actor Kent Broadhurst
The Wolf Within – An Interview with Actor Everett McGill
Full Moon Fever – The Effects of Silver Bullet – An Interview with Special Effects Artists Matthew Mungle And Michael McCracken
Audio Commentary with Director Daniel Attias
Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interview with Composer Jay Chattaway
Should You Buy It?
I love what Scream Factory is doing for the horror genre and how they are bringing new life to films which have long been forgotten unless you are a super hardcore horror fan. I like to consider myself very knowledgeable when it comes to the genre, but they always find a movie here and there which I haven’t heard of before, or have heard of but never seen in the past. With “Silver Bullet,” they add plenty of special features that are worth watching and which add a lot to the film. Scream Factory has become like the Criterion Collection for horror fans. As far as the film itself, it is a nice 94-minute ride that is paced perfectly. It is one of those films where you sit back, relax, laugh, scream and just enjoy yourself from start to finish. I recommend you pick this one up if you get any Amazon gift cards over the holiday season. You will be pleasantly surprised by it, despite some of the flaws I mentioned in my review. Still, those flaws do add to the charm of the film.