Color, 1985, 95 mins. / Directed by Daniel Attias / Starring Gary Busey, Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Everett McGill, Robin Groves / Music by Jay Chattaway

Paramount (US R1 NTSC), Momentum (UK R2 PAL) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9)


Though Stephen King had dabbled with adapting his stories to the screen in films like Creepshow and Cat's Eye, the werewolf saga Silver Bullet found him finally translating a complete, feature length narrative into script form, with more inconsistent results. Lifting the general storyline of his novella, Cycle of the Werewolf, while dropping the twelve-month structure and the whodunit angle, King's adaptation focuses on two teen siblings, Jane Coslaw (Megan Follows) and her wheelchair-bound little brother, Marty (Corey Haim). Their small town, Traker's Mill, is torn about by gruesome monthly deaths in which the victims are found mauled or dismembered. Their alcoholic uncle, Red (Gary Busey), tries to keep the kids under control when Marty expresses a more than passing interest in the crimes, while the sheriff (Terry O'Quinn) and local preacher (Twin Peaks' Everett McGill) cope with the townspeople's mounting hysteria... especially when a hairy beast is seen skulking through the woods.

Some good performances and strong scope photography make Silver Bullet an enjoyable if largely disposable offering, while some splashy dollops of gore make a valiant attempt to recapture the gruesome tableaux of Berni Wrightson's illustrations for the original text version. As usual, the big problem lies in the fact that King's dialogue simply doesn't translate well to the screen-- at all. The best adaptations (The Dead Zone, Carrie, etc.) realized this and tailored his characters in a more realistic fashion, but as with Pet Sematary and company, the actors here are saddled with too many unworkable lines and situations (not to mention the soppy narration). Another problem is Jay Chattaway's score, which starts off quite well but inexplicably veers off into grating, mid-'80s synth hell for no particular reason.

The U.S. DVD from Paramount at least offers the film in its original aspect ratio; considering how crucial the widescreen compositions are to the film's effectiveness (particularly a fogbound werewolf hunt), this is a huge improvement over the dreary laserdisc and VHS tapes. Unfortunately the solid transfer is about all the disc has going for it, as Paramount evidently didn't feel the film was worth any further effort. On the other hand, the British DVD from Momentum offers a commentary track by director Daniel Attias and the theatrical trailer. Since this version also sports an anamorphic transfer, fans with Region 2 capability will find this option a wiser investment.


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