Saturday, June 27, 2009

Film Review: SILVER BULLET (1985, Daniel Attias)

Stars: 5 of 5.
Running Time: minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Written by Stephen King, starring Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Terry O'Quinn, Everett McGill (TWIN PEAKS, HEARTBREAK RIDGE, THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS), Lawrence Tierney (DILLINGER, RESERVOIR DOGS), werewolf suit by Carlo Rambaldi, who did the SFX for E.T., Argento's DEEP RED, Fulci's LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, and scores of other classics.
Tag-lines: "It started in May in a small town and every month after that whenever the moon is full... It came back..."
Best one-liner: "Holy jumped up bald-headed Jesus palomina. From him I'd expect it. Sometimes I think your common sense got paralysed along with your legs. But from you Jane? You're Miss Polly Practical!" (said by Gary Busey's 'Uncle Red.')

Stephen King's best screenplay + a load of Italian names in the credits (De Laurentiis, Capone, Postiglione, Rambaldi, etc.) + Gary Busey (fresh off of the insanity of D.C. CAB) saying "I feel like a virgin on prom night"

+ Terry O'Quinn exuding way more pathos than is necessary + paralyzed Corey Haim in a hot rod wheelchair

+ a really intense priestly Everett McGill (TWIN PEAKS, HEARTBREAK RIDGE) + Lawrence Tierney wielding a ball bat named "The Peacemaker"

+ some good old New England mysticism + nearly as much eye trauma as a Fulci fick = serious, unarguable quality.

That's right, SILVER BULLET is top-notch 80's horror. And somehow, having a largely Italian crew is the best thing to even happen to a Stephen King adaptation. King movies fall flat on their faces when the delicate tonal balance (of scares, humor, corniness, weird speech patterns, Americana, etc.) is upset. And that balance is, unfortunately, VERY easily upset. THE SHINING succeeds because there's only one tone- impassive, emotionless, mind-numbing terror. CREEPSHOW succeeds because it's played only for E.C. Comics-style, blood-soaked laughs. SILVER BULLET has only one tone, too- and it's ITALIANO! The Italians bulldoze through the scary and cornball stuff alike, oblivious to the difference between them, but with a shit-ton of gleefully macabre enthusiasm. And it works!

Then they let Busey do his own thing, too, which is always a must. Busey plays lovable drunk 'Uncle Red,' a man as prone to heroics as he is to passing out in a driveway during a family function. And no one, least of all the script girl, can possibly predict what'll come out of his mouth next. He's on fire. And instead of it merely being a sideshow of insanity, it's perfect for the character, makes Uncle Red a true jewel in the crown of 80's horror flickery, and provides the true humanist core of the picture.

A textbook example of escapist entertainment at its best. Five stars.

-Sean Gill


Anonymous said...

First of all: Gary Busey. 'Nuff said.

Secondly, and finally, my favorite scene was actually when they go to that old gunsmith and the guy is totally nonchalant about the whole fucking thing.

"You want a silver bullet?"

And after he makes it, he mentions how it could be used to kill a werewolf, so fucking smoothly, like everyday people just walk in off the street and ask him for silver bullets to shoot werewolves with. This guy knew what was up. He was probably friends with the grandpa from THE LOST BOYS. They should make a prequel movie about those two guys. They were probably vampire and werewolf hunters in their prime.

Sean Gill said...


Thanks for stoppin' by! That's hilarious about the gunsmith, and so true. And by God, I would watch the hell out of that prequel.