The source material for 1985's Silver Bullet is a unique book in the King canon, as it was a collaboration between King and artist Berni Wrightson who originally intended this project to be a calendar.
Cycle of the Werewolf is at best a novella(aka "novelette") about a small town being terrorized by a killer who strikes during full moons. A young boy in a wheelchair discovers that the local menace is a werewolf and teams up with his older sister and uncle to stop the monster, who is now targeting them as prey for the next major moon rise.
Sounds like a fun little story,right? Well, it is but in truth, the plot is secondary to the amazing artistry of Wrightson's illustrations and put together, King's tiny terror tale works well with the artwork in a peanut butter and jelly style.
However, the film adaptation has none of the visual flair that Wrightson brought to the book and instead of a PB&J, you get something that's more like a potato salad and jelly sandwich.
The special effects are particularly bad when it comes to the werewolf, which looks like a mutant bear costume rejected by Party City. There is some variety in the make-up department in one dream sequence,where Reverend Lowe(Everett McGill) finds himself presiding over a funeral service taken over by a lycanthrope congregation, right down to the lady playing the church organ. This is supposed to be scary but it plays out more like a bad comedy skit:
Trust me, the movie is quick to spill the blood soaked beans on that aspect of the plot, so don't feel too bad about knowing that before you see this sucker.
Meanwhile, our young hero, Marty Coslaw(Corey Haim) discovers the true identity of the monster late one summer night, thanks to his less than reliable Uncle Red(Gary Busey, in fine for him form) providing his favorite nephew with a rocket powered wheelchair,named Silver Bullet, of course, and illegal fireworks to boot!
See, due to the recent string of gruesome murders,which includes one of Marty's pals, the annual fireworks show was canceled, which seems to bother our boy hero much more than the grisly demise of his friend. Sure, kids do the darnest things, even at the worst of times, but it just comes across as a set-up for young Marty to shoot off his last firework as an act of self defense:
After that, Marty gets his big sister Jane(Megan Follows) to do a search for the new one eyed person in town and sure enough, she sees that it's Rev. Lowe. Other than the bandage over the guy's eye, Jane's biggest clue is a baseball bat found in Lowe's garage, which used to belong to the local bartender(Lawrence Tierney in a truly waste of his time role).
Said bat was used against the bartender during a vigilante raid gone wrong(which is par for the course as those "private justice" outings are never a good idea) and kept as a souvenir, I guess? So many question arise from this that are never answered.
For that matter, why would a werewolf use a bat in the first place? Sure, it was conveniently on hand at the time but why not leave it there as no one has been convicted on werewolf murder charges due to fingerprints! Do werewolves even have or able to leave fingerprints? So many questions. I know Stephen King wrote the screenplay but this script feels like a first draft rather than an adaptation.
Oh, just one more question-why does the werewolf use the bat AGAIN, when the sheriff comes a-calling? What, you can only use your claws during an official moonlight hunt, not a casual attack?:
To be fair, this could have been a good small town scare show, an Our Town meets The Wolfman, but in the end, Silver Bullet fizzles out faster than any of the fireworks that Uncle Red gave to Marty.
Thank you one and all, for joining in the fun of this Stephen King fest of film flops. Despite the mixed reviews on the Dark Tower movie that came out earlier this month, I still hope to see it and more than likely will enjoy it. I'll be doing a reading challenge in 2018 that cover the Dark Tower books, so stay tuned for that,folks!
In the meantime, we do have the new film version of IT to look forward to this fall and many other King related movies to arrive on screens big and small in the near future. Enough to create a cinematic universe? Perhaps but then again, there are other worlds that this!: