Gettin’ Gory with Corey

Posted on Aug 7, 2012 in 80's Horror, All Reviews, Best of the Best, Please Rewind: Revisiting My Youth | 3 comments

REVISITING SILVER BULLET

Well, gore monkeys, it is time for another installment of Please, Rewind: Reliving the Saturday Night Frights of My Youth.  Our previous review in this category, The Lost Boys,  proved to be rather popular and I’m glad to see that people enjoy taking these trips down memory lane with me, even if our memory lane is more like Elm street.

This second film that helped pulled me into the abyss of horror also happens to be a Corey Haim feature too. Since revisiting The Lost Boys, the missus here at the Tavern has been teasing me for following up that viewing with additional Corey movies. License to Drive was unearthed. Even Dream a Little Dream got a screening.  Like it or not, the films of the two Coreys saturated the pre-teen entertainment market in those days, and all of us Gen-Xers get sentimental over them whether they’re good or bad (and whether or not we care to admit it). But all other Corey flicks aside, any real horror fan knows which one I was bound to end up really wanting to watch next.  Sure, there’s Friday the 13th Part 4 (one of my favorites in the series), and there’s The Burbs, which is all kinds of awesome… but no, you know which one you all saw as a kid — the one that made werewolves scary.

After all, vampires were Haim’s second nemesis as an underage slayer. His first encounter was with a lyncanthrope. I hadn’t seen Silver Bullet in over a decade, but I foamed at the mouth for it as a kid. Ultra violent and written by a guy who scared grown-ups, I was all about this one when I was a little shit. It became hard to find these past few years, being long out of print on DVD. But a new three-pack of King animal-horror was just unchained from the old yard — and now it is even on streaming Netflix and Amazon instant. So, clearly, it was time for me to hit rewind on this old monster romp.


SILVER BULLET (1985)

The movie opens with a sweet and sentimental score that swells alongside the image of a full moon. This is 80’s horror with a strong love for 50’s horror, which means we know who was behind this: none other than Stephen King, horror’s big dog daddy.

Silver Bullet is not only based on a novelette by King, but he also wrote the screenplay, which may explain why the film comes off as such a narrative, with Janey (Haim’s fictional sister in the movie) telling the tale while a myriad of colorful small town characters mingle across the screen. Even though this film focuses on a brother and sister, that doesn’t stop the script from swelling with a lot of well fleshed-out bit players, courtesy of a talented writer.

All of you film-makers take note: it pays off to hire a good writer. Don’t just try to do it yourself. Ok, I’ll let step down off the soapbox now….

Right off, the film gives us a glorious beheading, the kind of gore that lets you know this isn’t just an episode of Goosebumps. This is old school horror with kid characters, which means it is actually scary because the over-protective parent movement  hadn’t pussified juvenile horror yet. After this splattering, we are introduced to our main cast — including Marty, a handicapped boy played by a very young Haim, his slightly older sister Janey, and their alcoholic, gear-head Uncle Red, method-acted by Gary Busey.

I remember that as a kid, I thought it was so cool that the movie had this rad Uncle in it who turns Marty’s wheelchair into a dirt-bike. I didn’t understand then, like I do now, that he was also tanked up all the time. All the more perfect that the famously derailed train of Busey fills this role.

Because this was written by Stephen King, we get a nice glimpse into small town life as well as being faced with the threat of a supernatural monster. This time it’s a werewolf. The 80’s had its share of werewolf flicks, from the masterpiece An American Werewolf in London to the unique The Howling, but Silver Bullet stood out with its boy-verses-beast plot, making it targeted towards younger viewers such as my eight-year-old self… though how a movie this gory managed to get into my viewing cycle is somewhat questionable!

And gory it is. Solid mauling follows close behind that initial beheading, and even the chubby cop from In the Heat of the Night can’t seem to slow down what the town believes is the work of a cannibal maniac. The bodies keep turning up in grisly piles, but only young Marty has the imagination to suggest that perhaps what they’re dealing with isn’t entirely human.

Still, this doesn’t make him hesitant to go play with fireworks at night, alone, in the woods.

Damn it, Corey.

Anyway, the werewolf happens to be on the prowl that night and he attacks Marty. But Marty uses a firecracker as a weapon and takes out one of the wolfman’s eyes and then uses his dirt-bike wheelchair to escape. Afterward, he and his sister team up to find out who the werewolf is by looking for anyone suddenly missing an eye.

This is where the movie is at its most memorable. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll warn that the rest of the review is a SPOILER, so watch the movie first.

When I was a kid, the idea that a trusted member of the community — the kind of person you’d run to in a time of danger — could be living a double life as a monster…. Well, that made me want to shit my pants and cry with all of the lights on. Kids are so naïve, right? They trust that teachers, policemen, and other specific members of the community are always to be respected and trusted. Sadly this is not the case, as we learn as we get older.

In Silver Bullet, King goes all out and makes the local preacher the werewolf. There’s a reason this guy is considered the greatest horror writer of all time. Maybe he’s too mainstream now for younger generations, but the man turned horror clichés inside out and put monsters in our backyard. He is a genius writer and I love his work. His early novels changed the way I looked at monsters and the world when I was an avid-reading kid. As an avid-reading adult, I enjoy revisiting his work — including movies like this one.

Anyway, back to the movie. Marty and Janey identify the werewolf as being Reverend Lowe, played masterfully by Everette  McGill (The People Under the Stairs, Twin Peaks). Problem is, the good Reverend has identified them too and the only thing standing between these kids and this monstrous, bloodthirsty preacher is…

Well…

Gary Busey.

Good luck, kids. You’re gonna need it. You know your Uncle has an alcohol problem when you go for a two minute bike ride, and when you come back he’s just laying in the driveway… unexplained. Watch for that scene, it’s hilarious.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Silver Bullet is one of the better werewolf movies out there and it holds up very well. The Reverend’s hellish nightmare is probably the most terrifying moment in the film, but it isn’t alone. With the main characters in danger being not only children but also crippled, the level of empathy in the viewer goes up; and we actually care that Marty and his kin make it out okay — as opposed to the drunken, asshole teens in all the slasher movies who we can’t wait to see get a nice big ax in their face.

It also has great sentimental value even if you haven’t seen the movie before. It showcases a lost era, when even old ladies had firearms and werewolves loved baseball bats.

The ending of the movie feels a little rushed, but the ride getting there is truly grand. Loaded with old school monster FX, some great Busey humor, some fine King writing and a whole lot of adorable young Haim in a wheelchair that made wheelchairs cool, Silver Bullet isn’t horror movie silver, it is horror movie gold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Gary and I are off to save a small Mexican village from werewolf banditos. Copper Canyon or bust!

  • RATING: 4.5 out of 5
  • CHICK OF THE LITTER: not applicable.


BARTENDER’S NOTES

Well, I already know what you’re all thinking. Suggesting COORS is perfect, it being the silver bullet. It’s also a great throwback beer and this is a great throwback movie. If you want to pair the two I wouldn’t blame you, but might I add another option?

I already suggested Werewolf beer for Mom, so I’m going to name another underground horror-themed brew. Catawba Valley makes a fine summer Belgian called White Zombie Ale (not affiliated with Rob Zombie). From the Tavern’s home state of North Carolina, this white ale is very sweet, winking with bits of coriander and orange peel. It comes it a can, so watch out for that froth when you open it, because this zombie has a head on it. Delicious in the summer time, the 4.7% beer would be a great companion for this ol’ monster mash. Tasty and refreshing, there are worse ways than this White Zombie Ale to rot your brain!

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3 Comments

  1. Great Review.. I Got To this Movie Very Young as well… maybe when i was 4 or 5 at the latest (born in 85).. still remember how terrified that score made me.. Jay Chattaway Did wonders.. so much so that I own this Soundtrack On Vinyl (My Prized Record Right next To the Creepshow soundtrack by John Harrison) And i Still Wont listen to it if i’m home alone.. My Buddy Says thats Cuz it’s so engrained in My psyche that it evokes the same feeling of Dread i had as a kid hahaha… The Premise of Kids being in Danger was something i’d never seen before this movie.. so it made you feel like this could happen to you.. and to top that off the small town setting made it hit home that much more (i live in A Town Of about 500 or less) Everything About this movie Stuck with Me though…. The Way The Booze Sounded as Uncle Red Swilled it out Of The Bottle, The way The Fireworks Sounded echoing Across The Pond as we Go to the wolves Perspective, the Sound of the Cans in the reverends garage.. The Color of the Casings of the Fireworks.. or the colors of The Rocket Bike Or The Reverends Cars…. point Being i soaked up this movie… rite down to the colors and sounds of it… i Could Go On and on but i’m not an experienced writer hahaha… In A GREAT Note though… When My Local Video store went out of Buisnes Years and Years ago this is one of the VHS’s i bought… The Original one I Saw.. same copy… This Movie made my Childhood (as Did Ghostbusters, Big Trouble In Little China, Robocop and some Other noteables i’m forgetting hahaha) But Seriously if you havent seen it… GO DO IT!!! and if anybody has pictures of filming locations it be sweet to see the then and nows

  2. That’s so awesome that you have the original rental that you saw as well as that collectible score! I would also love to see some filming location shots. I lived in New England for six years and everything reminded me of Stephen King stories, it was out of control! Thanks for another awesome comment, Matthew!

  3. This movie was one of my favorites growing up. I remember as a kid (8 or 9, maybe 10) getting a copy of King’s Cycle Of The Werewolf and falling in love with it. The day after I got it, I saw there was this werewolf movie on TV called “Silver Bullet”. I sat down to watch it, and by the opening credits I was stoked (Based on “Cycle Of The Werewolf” by Stephen King it tells me). Gary Busey MADE this film great. Which also started a life-long admiration for Busey’s genius (or insanity, whichever you prefer). It also started my distrust of clergy. Never know when they could actually be a werewolf… Great film, great review!

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