Silver Bullet (1985) has found its place in Octobers but I used to watch it all the time. I've wrote about it and wrote about as others 80s kids who grew up with it. Because it has a place in my heart doesn't mean I consider it a great film. Far from it. It is all over the place. Sometimes it wants to be taken seriously while other times goes for laughs. Characters are all gung-ho to go after the killer in their midst, with the town ready to come unglued, then when bar patron citizens go after the werewolf and many are killed, they all abandon trying! The sheriff is told to check out the reverend, gets killed by him, and nothing is done about it!
So why do some of us love it so much? I reckon it has a lot to do with us who grew up with Corey Haim and Gary Busey. You kind of either have them imprinted on you or wonder why some of us care so much about them? When Haim passed, my heart just broke. I so wanted him to find his way out of addiction and live a happier, healthier existence. His life is the very essence of tragedy. Fame and something awful occurring to him as a kid that should never happen to any child, along with easy access to drugs, sent this young man into a downward spiral never to recover. I look at him so young, seeing this kid with so much promise and potential and so the film takes me back to that time where I fondly remember what he once was before it all came crashing down on him.
Getting off the bum ride, also Gary Busey just cracks me up with his ad libs. Some doozies, with the Jesus Palomino and “Hardy Boys Meet Reverend Werewolf” especially colorful, and his treatment of Haim’s wheelchair cripple is part of what charms me. I have no doubt mentioned this, maybe even last year, that the firework rocket to the eye and church of werewolves nightmare sequence are the two key scenes I enjoy, with the Haim stare at his friend as if sensing this would be the last time he would ever see him (proving to be foreshadowing) works on a chilling level to me as well. The Silver Bullet motor vehicle and the chase as Reverend Werewolf pursues and tries to crash Haim is probably the most suspenseful moment in the film, especially as the rickety bridge could have been the kid’s final minutes on earth had a farmer not been conveniently in the area when he needed him the most.
Everett McGill seems to deteriorate, eventually cold blooded, ferocious, with a black beard and growly disposition, after being clean cut and hospitable at the beginning. The cheesy voiceover which means well, as this aging voice tells us of her brother Marty and how he could bother her so, narratively communicating to us the story of the werewolf plaguing their small town, kind of attempts to settle the film into a serious work, while the foggy hunting party attack is so undeniably hokey it is a giggler. The scene where I don’t know if it is awkward or compelling—or a bit of both—is the scene where Megan Follows’ Jane, sister to Marty, goes about town looking for someone with a bandaged eye due to the rocket her brother shot into it. The music accompanying it I like a lot which might be why it is tolerable at all, but scenes where the camera closes in on eyes kind of toyed with me to look away.
The ending was perhaps the big letdown because it kind of lasts all of a couple minutes. There’s quite a build to a showdown, with McGill attempting to kill Haim in the car chase and the subsequent attempts to take the reverend down, but the werewolf just emerges at the door of Marty and Jane’s parents ready to “RIP THEM APART”. One silver bullet (dig the visit to the gunshop where the “old style craftsman” gets to work for Busey’s Uncle Red), recovered from a ventilation shaft, and the rest is history….well, not before Busey is thrown into breakable furnishings. Even when I was a kid, I had always felt there should just be a bit more to the finale…it should be a bit more bang, but I guess after the sheriff and other locals were bludgeoned with a bat, a pregnant suicide-ready-to-happen is ripped apart like Marty’s prankster buddy, the trio of two kids and their uncle, and one silver bullet, was exactly the cure for the disease plaguing the town.
This was always a fast paced little movie…it’s over before you know it. Haim was really good in his early years to develop sympathy…the film goes out of its way (see the baseball game and how Marty forlornly looks on) to make sure we realize that those with the chance to walk should appreciate it. I like, though, that Marty doesn’t wallow in pity…he does rely on assistance, but you don’t see him so “oh woe is me”. Jane can be a bit selfish and frustrated with devoting time to her brother at her parent’s persistence, but Marty never takes it to heart. You don’t have those scenes where Marty reacts with furious anger at Jane for being able to walk as she can be a bit irritated attending to him.