Silver Bullet

(Daniel Attias, USA, 1985)

BY HANS SMITH | April 19, 2022

There’s so much to love about ’80s horror, especially for those of us raised on the films of that era. They routinely feature endearingly predictable plot twists, spooky synth soundtracks, characters who do the stupidest possible thing at the worst possible moment, corny comic relief, secondary antagonists taken out by the killer, and awesome movie monsters created with old-school, non-CGI effects. The creature bursting from a woman’s chest in Aliens, Freddy pushing his way through the wall above Nancy’s bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street, the transformation in An American Werewolf in London: those are real special effects, and they are spectacular. 

Silver Bullet (1985), the only feature made by TV director Daniel Attias (taking over for Don Coscarelli, who quit after shooting an undisclosed amount of the film), has all the elements mentioned above, and then some. It stars an impressive 13-year-old Corey Haim in his first leading role, as the wheelchair-bound Marty Coslaw, and a pre-crazy Gary Busey as his alcoholic Uncle Red. (Haim would carry on the monster-movie momentum with the 1987 vampire hit The Lost Boys.) The effects showcased in the “congregation of werewolves” scene may seem campy by today’s standards, but they’re still indelibly chilling.

The film also includes a moonlight walk in the ominous, mist-filled woods; an evil priest; a car chase; a garden variety bumbling horror-movie sheriff; and a loudmouthed town drunk who gets his comeuppance. Last, but most definitely not least, is the final showdown with the werewolf, including the classic last gasp of the not-quite-dead-yet monster. Even when you know what’s coming, it provides a jump-scare every time.

Written by Stephen King, based on his 1983 novella Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet is narrated by the grown-up version of Marty’s big sister Jane (voiced by Tovah Feldshuh). Narration often serves to move a story along and avoid unnecessary exposition, and Silver Bullet certainly doesn’t waste any time, or scenes, getting to the action. The bodies start piling up quickly, even as we’re still getting acquainted with the main characters. Many of the best Stephen King screen adaptations aren’t overly complicated, and Silver Bullet works well because it keeps things simple. It doesn’t attempt to make grand statements about our culture or try to teach us a lesson (except maybe that you shouldn’t go for a walk in the woods at night during a full moon). It’s just a satisfyingly fun movie about a werewolf on a killing spree in a perfectly creepy Smalltown, USA locale. 🩸


is an old-school horror fan who writes for fun and won’t be quitting his day job anytime soon.

How to see Silver Bullet

Shout Factory! released a collector’s edition Blu-ray in 2019; the film is also on DVD.
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