What Stephen King’s adaptation of “Cycle of the Werewolf” has going for it, beyond everything else, is heart. In many ways, “Silver Bullet” is a multi-faceted horror film that can appeal to fans of family dramas and murder mysteries. “Silver Bullet” is a tension soaked eighties horror film that demonstrates rich characterization and complex feelings with a villain who isn’t completely black and white when all is said and done. Even the worst afflictions can rot anyone who means well enough, and “Silver Bullet” shines a light on two characters with afflictions they can not battle who have potential to rot from the inside out. One individual has embraced the darkness, and the other insists on seeing the bright side of everything, even in the face of pain, misery, and pure evil staring him right in the face.
“Silver Bullet”, as all King’s tales, takes place in a small town, that sleepy burg where you wouldn’t expect vampires, a demonic clown, or a vicious werewolf would loom. The story is simple, there’s a werewolf roaming the town killing off local residents, and no one knows how it got there. When one of the town’s residents discovers their son mutilated in the middle of the woods, the town immediately rules out any chance of there being an actual serial killer, and form a lynch mob to seek out and kill the beast. Marty is one of King’s classic inadvertent heroes. He’s the kid who basically is unaware of the world outside his life, but also experiences his own daily obstacles. Marty is disabled and is bound to a wheelchair, not to mention his sister Jane is jealous of all the attention he receives because of it. One night after receiving fireworks from his uncle, he sneaks out to play with them and stumbles upon the werewolf.
He luckily gets away unharmed thanks to the motorized wheelchair given to him by his uncle, but now that he’s injured the beast. The beast, angered by the near fatal confrontation is still out there, and Marty knows that it has a score to settle. Intent on breaking the town curse and saving his own life, Marty seeks out the identity of the werewolf, before it finds him in the next full moon. Oh yes, and the beast may just be one of the town’s people. One of the best aspects of “Silver Bullet” is the simple way these three loved ones must band together to fight off this intruder beyond all costs. The werewolf remains hidden only being revealed until the climax where “Silver Bullet” transforms in to a tense mystery. The rest of the film features Marty, his sister, and his Uncle Red attempting to find a way to discover the identity of the beast and keep themselves from being killed.
Gary Busey steals the show as the erratic and hilarious Uncle Red who stays with the children and has to grasp this outlandish concept yet keep them in line. When events occur beyond his comprehension, he then has to save his niece and nephew even if he thinks they’re crazy. With a top-notch script by King, the character’s relationships make up the tension of the story as they bicker, and argue, and snipe at each other, but have to get close to fight this entity off. Corey Haim, in particular, gives a sympathetic role as a sarcastic but clever hero who has to depend on his bitter sister to exercise her resources, and the results are disastrous even when they find answers. “Silver Bullet” features one of the best climaxes in a horror film thanks to director Daniel Attias, and garners a very entertaining and creepy story that develops beyond a typical werewolf movie. When I think of great horror films, when I think of great werewolf films, and when I think of a great King film, I think of this.