Daily Archives: 04/07/2012

STEPHEN KING’S SILVER BULLET

STEPHEN KING’S SILVER BULLET-United States-1985

Directed by Daniel Attias

Screenplay by Stephen King

Based on the novella “Cycle of the Werewolf” by Stephen King

I used to read Stephen King’s books as if my very life depended on it. I literally soaked up every word of every page. Carrie, The Shining, Christine I loved each and every one of them. But I was always a little disappointed. Mr. King wrote about vampires, telekinetic teenagers, clairvoyant schoolteachers and even a haunted 1958 Plymouth Fury. But he seemed to avoid my favorite supernatural beastie, the werewolf.

Then along came a little book entitled Cycle of the Werewolf. Finally, King had penned a tiny masterpiece of lycanthropic literature. Even the premise of the story was a winner. He based the werewolf’s attacks on the lunar cycles as they tuned in with all the holidays. But the real kicker was the illustrations. Not just any illustrations, mind you; these were drawn by none other than comic book artist extraordinaire, Bernie Wrightson! Can you imagine my pleasure? I devoured that little book in one sitting.

Now, cut to a few years later when I find out there was going to be a movie based on COTW*. I was more excited than a ‘virgin on prom night’ (quote from the movie). I was ready for this one, ladies and gentlemen. Bring it on! Ah-ooooo! Werewolf time!

If this article were a movie, now would be the time where everyone is all excited and then all of a sudden you hear that sound effect of a needle scratching across a record player signaling the end of that spontaneous joy. For everything that Cycle of the Werewolf is, Silver Bullet is not. What makes it even worse is that King wrote the screenplay based on his own work. What was he thinking?

The story still revolves around paraplegic pre-teen Marty Coslaw and his discovery of a werewolf in the little town of Tarker’s Mills. Marty is portrayed by the late Corey Haim, who back in 1985 was the teen heartthrob of the day. You could pretty much see his face on the cover of Tiger Beat and 16 magazines all the time, so he was a good choice for the role of Marty as he brought a familiar face to draw the young crowd into the theater. On the feminine side, we have Megan Follows cast as Marty’s sister. To say that Megan pretty much acts rings around the grown-ups would be a gross understatement. Follows is reliable in everything she appears in and Silver Bullet is no exception.

Then we come to Gary Busey as Uncle Red. Is there an actor more qualified for the title of “Goofy as a Corn Dog”? Well, wait, there’s Charlie Sheen, so I take that back. With Busey in Silver Bullet, you have an actor who is at the end of his career as a bankable commodity. It’s too bad, really, because the man can act. As Uncle Red (Uncle Al in the novella), Busey achieves a camaraderie with the two young co-stars that is a wonder to behold. He’s good, dammit.

So, my problem is not with the acting. My problem with Silver Bullet lies in the telling of the tale. King tries to make the town of Tarker’s Mills the kind of place where everybody knows everybody and nobody has any secrets. He tries so hard to make the people of the town seem real to us that the more he tries the more they seem like actors in a movie.

The werewolf attacks are completely predictable. Each victim is foreshadowed long before their deaths. You just know the pregnant girl is going to get it. You secretly thank the beast for doing away with the loudmouth redneck. Unless you’re a six year old kid there’s just no excitement to it. Don’t even get me started on the way the werewolf looks, either. Just think Cujo meets E.T. the Extraterrestrial and you have a pretty good idea of how bad he looks. Topping it all off, there is this horrible ’80′s music from some band that doesn’t know whether it wants to be Dire Straits or Kajagoogoo.

If you love Stephen King, werewolves and scary shit, avoid Silver Bullet. If you still want to see it after all I’ve told you then don’t say I didn’t warn you.

TRIVIA

Early drafts of the film’s script, including the pressbook release, it stated that the werewolf speaks. In the actual film itself, the werewolf does not speak at anytime.

Producer Dino De Laurentiis was very unhappy with the werewolf used in the film. He was disappointed in both the way it looked and the way the costumed actor moved. This proved to be a bit of an insult to the actor wearing the suit as he was an accomplished modern dancer and was hired specifically for his movement skills.

Shooting started without a proper werewolf suit.

COTW stands for Cycle of the Werewolf and not Compulsive Obsessive Transvestites in Walgreens. Just so you know.

½

 

 

 

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