31 Days of Terror - 'Silver Bullet' (1985)
I have a special place in my heart for Stephen King's Silver Bullet. Apart from being a mandatory annual family viewing it's also a damn good old-fashioned werewolf flick with some great practical effects.
Dan Attias's Silver Bullet takes place in the small rural town of Tarker's Mills, Maine. Corey Haim plays Marty; a young paraplegic boy that, after mysterious and violent deaths throughout the town, figures out that one of the locals is actually a bloodthirsty werewolf.
The more I watch this film, the more I love it. As an adolescent, this movie absolutely terrified me. Silver Bullet depicts werewolves as they should be depicted; as ferocious, unrelenting forces of nature that feel no sympathy for their victims while the full moon is out. So many filmmakers today seem to prioritize making something look cool before making it look scary. Here, they made sure that this werewolf was the last thing you wanted to see; something horrifying and believable. It also helps that this takes place in a small community nestled in the middle of a foreboding forest i.e., the perfect stomping ground for a feral werewolf. I attribute this to Stephen King, who knows all too well that the setting is just as responsible for the scares as the actual antagonist is.
There are some absolutely fantastic scenes that still scare me to this day. There's one particular sequence that is perfectly geared for maximum suspense and terror. Marty takes his new ride out to a secluded bridge in the forest to set off some fireworks. The fireworks draw the attention of the werewolf who is lurking in the woods. The build-up and climax of this scene, for me, is probably the scariest werewolf-related moment in cinematic history and the film is worth watching for that alone. There are plenty more scenes worth witnessing that send tingles up my spine to this day, along with some gleefully graphic killings that you just don't really see anymore today.
Silver Bullet also features my favorite Gary Busey performance. He plays Martey's drunk uncle, Red, who is one of the few that ends up backing Martey in the end. Busey gets some of the best one-liners and he's just a joy to watch as he chews up scenery. Everett McGill, who plays Reverand Lowe, is also a stand-out. He gets some excellent scenes and does a phenomenal job of selling a conflicted religious man with a dark secret.
SIlver Bullet does just about everything right when it comes to being an engaging horror film. The tone is spot on, the setting is great, the characters are actually characters and not card-board cut-outs that exist merely to get mauled, and the story is consistently engaging. Any way you slice it; this is one of the best Stephen King adaptations, and if you like a good werewolf flick, look no further than this little gem.