Silver Bullet (1985)

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Dan Attias directs Gary Busey, Corey Haim and Everett McGill in this lesser Stephen King adaptation that is so chockablock full of camp, alternative pleasures the werewolf central hook seems more like a forgotten aside.

I missed this as a kid, not just from my adolescent aversion to horror either, I never knew of its existence until a decade after its release. And while it won’t be for everyone, frankly this ticked a lot of boxes for me. The main plotline (and I use those words cautiously) about a baseball bat wielding werewolf terrorising a small town feels almost like a spoof of Stephen King’s distinctive house sauce. But hanging off it is about a half a dozen other mini-movies, all effective. We have the pleasurable whodunnit aspect as we drift past a whole population of stock characters (well cast) who could be the werewolf. We have a Jaws-lite like situation where a community under threat turn against the sheriff in their thirst for vigilante justice. We have a young teenage narrator learning to accept her brother’s disability. We have Corey Haim’s wheelchair bound hero; who rides around on increasingly souped up motorised wheelchairs, firing fireworks off in nightbeast’s faces and racing cars on the open highways. This aspect is definitively less believable than all the werewolf scares and feels like something that even The Goonies or Monster Squad may have turned their noses up at as just being plain silly. But before you can write Silver Bullet off, I saved the best until last. We have Gary Busey going full throttle as the most irresponsible but loveable uncle ever. Boozing it up, hitting on underage girls, adding another hot rod engine to his nephew’s mobility chair while handing him some Mexican fireworks… it is the kind of unhinged, show stopping job that a young Nicholas Cage must have witnessed and thought “That is where I want to take my acting.” So for giving one of B-Movies finest sons their wildest hour (Busey out spectacles even the fine monster effect work), Silver Bullet transcends all its issues and coalesces into a great popcorn movie.

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