True yet almost completely ancillary story; the first time I saw this movie, I watched it on one of my favorite programs of all time, TNT’s Monstervision. Hosted by the hilarious Joe Bob Briggs (AKA John Bloom), it was a Saturday night double-movie creature feature wherein Joe Bob, a Texas good-ol’ boy who just so happened to know a LOT about horror movies, would show two cheesy horror flicks back to back, and during every (or every other) commercial break would hang out with a beer in his hand and talk about the cast, crew, and plot of the movie in a laid-back, shooting the shit style of discourse. He knew almost EVERYTHING about these movies, and he would just let it roll off the tongue like he did this in his off time. He made the movies fun with his style of riffing on the film, funny asides to his own crew about whatever they were watching, and an amazing set of “Drive-In Totals”, where he makes a tally of all the great death scenes and gratuitous breast shots in the movie (“We have 13 dead bodies, 2 hacks to the neck, dynamite fu, laser fu…”). It was an amazing show, and TNT really shot itself in the foot the day it canceled Monstervision and decided that it “knows drama”, which it doesn’t, by the way. And Monstervision was my first exposure to this little Stephen King movie that, otherwise, would have eluded my knowledge. It’s an interesting spin on your typical werewolf movie that focuses more on WHO the werewolf is, rather than how they can kill it.
In a small Maine town (apparently Maine is where ALL the magic happens according to Stephen King), a series of bizarre deaths have been racking up, once every full moon. It started out as just one, which was explained away as a railroad accident, but when people are found brutalized in their own bed, the townsfolk start to get suspicious that a murderer might be on the loose. One kid in particular, a paraplegic kid named Marty, doesn’t think it’s just any old murderer, though. He thinks that it’s a werewolf, and he’s determined to prove it and stop these horrible killings. With the help of his crybaby sister Jane and his drunk but Gary Busey-esque Uncle Red, Marty might be the only person who can save the town. But can he discern the werewolf’s identity before more people have to die?
Interesting cast here. We have Corey Haim as a foul-mouth “cripple”, Gary Busey before the motorcycle crash as a weird loser, and Terry O’ Quinn as the bad-ass sheriff! Everyone’s different, and they all bring a surprising dynamic to what would have been just some generic werewolf movie. Corey Haim isn’t half bad as werewolf-overachiever Marty, who wants someone to believe him but knows that his wheelchair breeds distrust in the inbred backwoods of Maine (not true in the movie, but possibly true in real life; “Get that artificial conveyance OUT OF OUR TOWN! God will smite us all for you defying his will!!!”) The real shocker here is Gary Busey, who is far more lucid than I remember him being back then. He plays Uncle Red close to the chest, and it’s a character that I can’t help but enjoy considering the last movie I saw Gary Busey in was The Gingerdead Man. I would call this a comeback, but this was made in 1985, so it’s really just more of a “back”. Oops!
The main attraction here is the mystery. Who is the werewolf? Empirical thinking would suggest that if there were a werewolf killing people in town, the werewolf would need a place to hide out in during its down-time. And what better place to hide out in than the town you kill in? It’s interesting to watch Haim play detective, sorting out the possibilities in his head. There were a few red herrings here, so when it all comes together, there’s definitely an “a-ha!” moment. Not the 80s A-Ha, but the accusatory “a-ha!”, like “A-ha! I knew Gary Busey wasn’t psychotic before the crash!”
The creature make-up for the werewolf is passable, but not as good as, say, An American Werewolf In London, and yet better than, say, Teen Wolf. He looks a little fleshy; not enough hair for a were-wolf. Perhaps a were-sphinx or a were-human, but not incredibly impressive otherwise. The deaths at the hands of mystery wolf are fairly gory, but it’s “tasteful”, if that’s the right word. It’s not overtly violent, but you can most certainly tell that some horrific stuff happened to the victims. I don’t think gore-snobs will like it, but anyone who can take their gore however they find it will be impressed with the work.
So, all in all, an interesting movie bolstered by solid performances and decent special effects. What more can you ask for? Not much, I’ll tell you that. I enjoyed myself quite a bit with this movie, and I think we can all relate to being a foul-mouthed paraplegic kid living in Maine hunting down werewolves, right? Right?!? Well, anyway, good show, everyone, and for your efforts I give Silver Bullet 8 mystery wolves out of 10. Long live the schlocky movie!
Keep an eye peeled later today for my indie hipster review of Brothers of The Head!