Silver Bullet comes from a story (Cycle of the Werewolf) by Stephen King, who also penned the screenplay. Not all of King's works translate as well to the screen as they made read on the page. This one, however, is very effective and remains a strong scare more than twenty years later. Getting better chills from the less-is-more theory, very little is seen of the werewolf until the end of the movie (revealing a less than believable costume, but more than decent for 1985). The story itself is a good one–it has intelligently written, well-fleshed out characters to help make this a memorable film.
Silver Bullet takes place in a small town. Marty (Corey Haim) is an eleven-year-old boy who's paralyzed from the waist down and gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He seldom gets along with his fifteen-year-old sister Jane (Megan Follows), who often feels she must bear the burden of always being responsible for Marty (who never seems to land in trouble). Gary Busey plays Uncle 'Red', Marty's trusted ally who builds him a custom motorcycle, aptly named The Silver Bullet. Uncle Red borders on alcoholic; he makes a great character with his very frank opinions and colorful language.
Small Town Werewolf Murders
Just before the 4th of July, people start turning up dead, including Marty's best friend. The murders do not go unnoticed and the town gets restless, but an attempt at vigilante justice goes sorely awry. Everyone starts locking their doors and staying off the streets, knowing there's "a killer out there." Only when Marty sneaks out at night to set off a stash of fireworks given to him by his uncle does he come face to face with the werewolf, shooting a firework in its eye before making his escape. Forced to ask Jane for help when Uncle Red won't listen, she finds herself searching around town for anyone with just one eye, finding the killer where she least expects. Both kids employ Uncle Red to have their silver chains melted down into a single bullet and at the next full moon, falling on Halloween, they wait, knowing the werewolf is coming for them.
Silver Bullet is a little unusual in its execution. Most werewolf movies are shown from the creature's point of view or at least take a large portion of the time to show the inner struggle of being a werewolf. Only one very short scene suggests the killer, initially, may know and fear what he'll do. But for the majority of the film, he appears to have no qualms about killing, even cornering and threatening Marty in daylight while in human form. This werewolf movie is all about painting the scariest werewolf imaginable–one that's just as scary when he's a man.
A Memorable and Scary Movie
The tense scenes (of which there are several) are all accompanied by music as effective as the Halloween theme. All the characters are well developed, making for an engaging movie. The characters are believable and the dialogue is often funny. Many may have nostalgia for this film, but it holds up remarkably well. The outfits and songs may date the film a little, but it's easily overlooked as the whole package is a genuinely fun, scary horror movie.