They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge (unless you count that time Jack Giroux was challenged to prove that hairy palms don’t come from excessive masturbation), so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy!
Written by Stephen King at the height of his fame, Silver Bullet tells the story of mysterious and violent deaths happening in the small Maine town of Tarker’s Mill. At first, they are dismissed as accidents, but soon people suspect a killer is on the loose. Young paraplegic Marty Coslow (Corey Haim) and his older sister Jane (Megan Follows) uncover some evidence that leads them to believe that the killer is actually a werewolf. Marty and Jane try to convince their wayward uncle Red (Gary Busey) that not only is the killer a literal monster but the werewolf has now targeted them because they know the secret.
Forget the gore and the violence. A really strong scene in a horror movie is best achieved with a level of suspense. While this movie carried and R rating and had some levels of blood and creature effects in it, one of the best scenes features Marty in his wheelchair on a bridge in the middle of the night setting off fireworks. He is surprised by the werewolf, which has been stalking him. While it plays relatively short, it’s an effective moment in the film, and it allows Marty to display an uncommon level of cogent thinking (which is pretty rare for a horror movie) in order to escape. It’s also one of the most effective uses of a bottle rocket you’ll ever see in cinema history.
Yeah, it was the 80s when many horror movies showed their fair share of tits with an R rating. It was also in the middle of the PG-13 switch-up that followed 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins. However, this movie isn’t about the taboo of teen sex. It’s about a child’s fears, so there’s no skin scenes at all.
Tame by today’s standards, this was a pretty bloody movie back in 1985, and it was even more grisly because one of the victims was a teenage boy (killed off-screen but revealed as a blood-soaked kite). There’s also multiple werewolf deaths, including a decapitation in the opening scene, a female victim’s back shredded to ribbons and mutilated victim in the swamp. Though some have criticized the movie for pulling its punches, from a violence and gore perspective, it’s still an effective film, mixing suspense and blood to achieve its most powerful moments.
Silver Bullet is the essence of a 1980s Stephen King film, even more than the more revered films like The Shining. It captures the juxtaposition of horror against an idyllic small-town backdrop that King often does. The idea of a killer on the loose in a small town is where the heart of the scares are in this movie, as well as the innocence of children facing a terror that no one else believes. The aforementioned suspense works rather well, and the up-front werewolf effects give a nice update to the werewolf legends throughout the previous decades of cinema. It might seem soft to a contemporary adult audience, but when I was only 14 (which is approximately the age of Marty), it was one hell of a scary flick.
Silver Bullet is based on Stephen King’s novelette “The Cycle of the Werewolf.” The book was originally conceived to be a calendar which would feature twelve vignettes by King and twelve original illustrations by Bernie Wrightson, who had also illustrated the graphic novel version of King’s Creepshow script a few years before. When King was unable to restrain himself to the short vignettes, he found the project growing into a full story. This resulted in a somewhat unevenly delivered work. However, King smoothed out a lot of the wrinkles from the original novelette to make a more well-constructed screen story. To date, this is one of my favorite screenplays King has written of his own work, and the movie feels like quintessential mid-80s King. Oh, and I would have never guessed back in 1985 that Gary Busey would out-live co-star Corey Haim. That’s the most shocking thing of all about this movie.
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