Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Silver Bullet: A See-Again Movie for Halloween

Photo from Google Images (2014)
It's almost Halloween, and as the holiday approaches, I enjoy seeing a few good horror movies. However, the key word is “good,” because I like to think that I have discriminating taste when it comes to choices in cinematic fare, including horror movies. As a result, I don’t watch just any horror movie. For instance, I do not care for “slasher films” like Halloween (The 1978 film, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, is a different story entirely), Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or other splatter-fests. My idea of a good horror movie is one that meets the following criteria:

  • Suspense that keeps you on edge.

  • Well-developed and likeable characters.

  • Good acting.

  • A tight script.

  • A believable plot. (Yes, I know that horror movies don’t exactly reflect reality, at least the reality I know; nevertheless, their storylines should allow the viewer to enter that state Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “a willing suspension of disbelief.)

  • No gratuitous blood, gore, or profanity.

So, that said, I am going to tell you about my all-time favorite movie for Halloween viewing.

Stephen King's Silver Bullet 

 Circa 1985 and classified as a psychological horror/teen film, Silver Bullet is based upon a Stephen King novella, Cycle of the Werewolf. Directed by Dan Attias, it stars:

  • Gary Busey as the reprobate Uncle Red

  • Corey Haim as Marty Coslaw, Uncle Red’s nephew

  • Megan Follows as Jane Coslaw, Uncle Red’s niece

  • Everett McGill as Reverend Lester Lowe

  • Terry O'Quinn as Sheriff Joe Haller

  • Robin Groves as Nan Coslaw, Marty's mother and Uncle Red’s sister

  • Leon Russom as Bob Coslaw, Nan’s husband and Marty and Jane’s father

  • Other assorted actors and actresses, plus a good many extras

Set appropriately in October, in the small town of Tarker Mill, Maine (Aren’t all King’s stories set in Maine?), Silver Bullet is a superior horror film, mainly because of the relationship between Uncle Red, Marty, and Jane. Plus, the film has heart and even contains moments of humor.

Plot Overview

 Jane Coslaw (Follows) narrates the story, and she sounds rather eerily like the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird, though I’m sure they aren’t one in the same since the film based on Lee’s novel was released 23 years before Silver Bullet. Anyway, the storyline revolves around Jane’s strained relationship with her brother Marty, who is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair, and their parents, who Jane feels are overly protective of Marty and treat her unfairly as a result.

Google Images (2014)

The siblings’ often tumultuous relationship changes for the better, however, after a series of gruesome murders occur in Tarker Mill. As the murders continue and the police get no closer to catching the perpetrator, the town establishes a curfew and cancels its annual October Fest, which includes a fireworks show. The event happens to correspond to Marty’s birthday (I think it’s his birthday), so Nan and Bob, not wanting to disappoint Marty, decide to have a cookout and invite Nan's brother (Uncle Red), who, regardless of his black-sheep standing in the family, is Marty’s favorite uncle. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Red is Marty’s favorite uncle. He certainly isn’t boring. In fact, he’s anything but.  

Google Images (2014)

Uncle Red, obviously mechanically inclined, has made Marty a souped-up wheelchair/motorcycle nicknamed the “Silver Bullet” (probably because it’s silver and fast, but also because it’s an analogy—silver bullets, as you know, kill werewolves). Uncle Red also gives Marty a large bag of fireworks, so Marty, riding in the Silver Bullet, goes zooming off into the night (As if I would go zooming off into the night with a manic on the loose) to shoot his fireworks. Marty stops on a bridge in the middle of the woods, where he lights some fireworks and is having a rousing good time when he’s confronted by—you guessed it—the werewolf. Marty, being resourceful however, launches a rocket, hits the werewolf directly in the eye socket, and high-tails it for home, where he shimmies up the trellis, rolls through the window, climbs into bed, pulls the covers over his head, and shivers until he falls asleep (Could you sleep after seeing a werewolf?).

The next day Marty tells Jane that a werewolf is on the prowl in and around Tarker Mill. She tells her brother that he’s nuts, but Jane later changes her mind when she notes Reverend Lowe’s bandaged eye and finds a bloody baseball bat in the church’s garage. The kids, though, know they can’t handle a werewolf by themselves, so they solicit Uncle Red’s help. Uncle Red, despite his care-free Peter-Pan outlook on life, is a realist, so he doesn’t believe for one moment that a werewolf is terrorizing the town. Wanting to placate the kids, however, he agrees to help them kill the monster. The first step, Marty and Jane decide, is to take Jane’s silver crucifix to a master gunsmith who can melt the crucifix down and turn it into a silver bullet. The next step is to wait for the full moon¸ which appropriately is scheduled to occur on Halloween night.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot; otherwise, there’ll be no need for you to see the movie.

Silver Bullet Rating 

Although you special-effects aficionados will probably cringe over the werewolf’s appearance (It isn’t exactly up to 2014 standards), Silver Bullet is a see-again movie. It’s suspenseful; it’s entertaining from beginning to end; the characters are likeable; the storyline, though fanciful, is believable; the acting is outstanding; it contains very little if any profanity (none that I can recall); and though it’s rated “R” for violence and gore, that violence and gore are mild compared to what you see in movies today. In fact, though the movie isn’t for very young children, I personally would not rate it R. If anything, Silver Bullet should receive a PG-13 rating or perhaps even a PG. After all, compared to recent horror movies, as well as a great many from earlier years, it’s tame. And, it’s fun to watch.

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