Written by Stephen King
Directed by Daniel Attias
The small town of Tarker’s Mill was a place that was very peaceful, where nothing ever happened. Until one night, murders begin. The town people believe it’s some maniac killer on the loose and intend to hunt the man down. Marty, a young handicapped boy, believes that the killer is no man at all, but a werewolf. After a run in with the werewolf Marty and his sister, Jane hunt all over town for the man who is the werewolf.
It started in May in a small town and every month after that whenever the moon is full… It came back.
It’s possible I’m a bit of a sucker for Silver Bullet. It is one of my favorite King shorts, it takes place a couple of months before the Bicentennial, which is something I remember vividly. I was six years old in my small, Midwestern town, and pumped for the parade. I never saw it because my barefoot ass stepped on a broken beer bottle and missed the parade, getting a trip to the ER instead. The next day, a foot full of stitches, and jacked up on root beer and snacks; I got pampered at home. Part of the pampering included my mom letting me watch The Horror of Dracula late that night. Funny how these seemingly insignificant moments can impact your memories and perception of something all these years later.
Based on the short story, Cycle of the Werewolf, by Stephen King, Silver Bullet is a classic 80’s horror movie. There was a time when Gary Busey was “normal”, or at least he seemed like a normal guy then. He might have been huffing thinner in his trailer for all I know.
The sleepy town of Tarker’s Mill is about as boring as it gets. Marty Coslaw (Corey Haim), is a handicapped young boy that races around town in a gas-powered wheelchair, compliments of his well-meaning, but alcoholic, Uncle Red (Gary Busey). His resentful sister, Jane (Megan Follows), is never far behind, ready to provoke Marty since she’s so sick of his “Poor Marty” routine.
Tarker’s Mill seems to have produced the impossible, a serial killer descends on the jerkwater town and a body count begins. Marty, being a master of foreshadowing, mentions to Uncle Red that the killer must be a werewolf. Pissed that the town has cancelled the fireworks due to the safety issues that arise from murders, Uncle Red gives Marty a fat sack of illegal firework and turns him loose into the night on his newly built wheelchair/motorcycle. He warns Marty to not mention it to his mom, best to venture out into the night unsupervised, right? Best uncle ever.
“Oww! My eye! My doctor told me to not get fireworks in it!”
Marty has the terrible fortune of witnessing the stalking werewolf with his own eyes. Not limited by his handicap, our young and disabled hero fires a Black Cat rocket right into the wolves’ eye. What happens next involved Marty convincing Jane that the werewolf exists. The two begin a house to house Tarker’s Mill CSI detective bit as they try to catch the werewolf. The adult Jane narrates some of the movies scenes, making it sound like a Dollar Store version of Life Goes On. Corky would be so disappointed.
As Jane goes door to door, under the guise of just being really proactive about collecting empty soda bottles for the church fund-raiser, she makes a terrifying discovery. She delivers the bottles to the pastor’s (Everett McGill) home, and finds a bit of evidence in the pastor’s garage that she can’t ignore. The newly donned eye patch the rev is sporting isn’t really good news either. I won’t spoil the end for you; rent it if you haven’t, you have had plenty of time to have seen this one.
Terry O’ Quinn (John Locke of Lost) plays the local sheriff, which I had forgotten in the 15 + years since I’d seen Silver Bullet. This is not a tier one horror flick by any means, but it is a solid 80’s adaptation with some great scares and decent special effects. McGill as Reverend Lowe is magnificently spooky in his role. That black eye patch was like a portal into hell when I watched this as an impressionable 15-year-old.
In the end, this is a great horror movie, not The Exorcist great, but still a memorable and convincing entry. I found it charming and effective after all these years. Stay off the moors on your way to rent this. Or just increase your odds of living and watch this instantly on Netflix.