The Coslow family reside in the quiet town of Tarker’s Mills. Marty and Jane Coslow are brother and sister, with Jane bearing a heavier load than most siblings, since she’s tasked by her parents to constantly assist Marty, who is paralyzed and requires a wheelchair. Jane and Marty’s normal sibling rivalry carries with it an undercurrent of resentment, since Jane feels her parents give Marty special treatment.
Also popping up is the gregarious Uncle Red, the kind of guy who blows into town and out again, the only constant presence in his life being a bottle of booze. It is he that encourages Marty to be a “normal” kid, gifting him with fireworks and what is essentially a motorcycle modified to fit a wheelchair instead of a saddle for Marty’s amusement. He adores his nephew, in particular, but Red is the kind of guy who doesn’t take anything seriously at all.
Tarker’s Mills begins to experience grisly murders, something which begins to change the Coslaw family. At first, the town believes the murders are accidents, but after a young boy is ripped to shreds, the town mobilizes into a vicious mob to seek some old-fashioned vigilante justice, only to have some of the mob attacked by the werewolf.
Marty’s new motorcycle, dubbed Silver Bullet thanks to Uncle Red, is shiny and fast, which is why Marty sneaks out in the middle of the night to ride on the back roads of Tarker’s Mills. Naturally, he encounters the werewolf and only survives by shooting one of Red’s procured fireworks into the eye of the werewolf. When he shares this information with Jane, they hunt for a townsperson with only one eye.
The werewolf turns out to be the most unlikely suspect – the local preacher, Lester Lowe, who is both tortured by his conscience and rationalizes his own set of murders. Marty and Jane band together with the reluctant Uncle Red to fight the menace to Tarker’s Mills.
If you view Silver Bullet against the collected adaptations of Stephen King’s works, it falls far to the bottom of the list. It lacks a lot of the emotional punch of King’s other adaptations and the special effects are a bit dismal, even if you view them in the context of 1985, when the movie was made.
The King book this is based on is Cycle of the Werewolf, one that I’ve never read, but I was inspired to revisit Silver Bullet after finally finishing King’s newest book, Under the Dome. The batshit crazy preacher of Under the Dome reminded me so strongly of Silver Bullet‘s Lester Lowe that I moved the movie to the top of my Netflix queue. In an odd, sad sense of timing, I received Silver Bullet around the same time that Corey Haim, who played Marty Coslaw, died. In many ways, the movie has some movement and power solely off the performances of Haim, who played sweet and innocent so very well, and Gary Busey as fun-loving Uncle Red.
Silver Bullet is flat and not very sharp; I have better memories of it from my childhood than it deserves. It’s important to note Stephen King has been a large part of my life and was a large part of my childhood – quite a few of my childhood fears were shaped and molded by Mr. King himself. I still shudder remembering parts of It, The Tommyknockers, The Stand and The Mist – either their film adaptations or the books themselves. Stephen King has been sort of synonymous with horror for much of my life and I think it’s worth it to point out that I was never scared by a damn thing in Silver Bullet. Perhaps the most lasting image is Lowe in his eyepatch, and that’s about it.
It’s a film that doesn’t carry much weight that I only viewed for the nostalgia factor, really, and I don’t know that I could wholeheartedly recommend it unless you’re longing for a movie from your childhood. I can’t comment on how faithfully they adapted King’s book since I never read Cycle of the Werewolf, but hell, give me The Langoliers any day over this.