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Silver Bullet

It's unfortunate that Steven King's Silver Bullet is R-rated, because if it weren't it would make a good kids' movie. Though pitched as a horror film when released in 1985 (and it does have gore in it), it's really about youths facing demons and learning sibling support, making it more like a fairy tale than the typical drive-in fare. The story revolves around the Coslaw family: Wheelchair bound younger brother Marty (Corey Haim) is both a friend and a curse to his sister/narrator Jane (Megan Follows), who feels that she always has to look after him. Both love their thrice-divorced screw-up alcoholic uncle Red (Gary Busey), who comes to visit about once a month and is building Marty a motorcycle-like wheelchair called "The Silver Bullet." But their town of Traker's Mill is in trouble because of some strange recent homicides. Though the sheriff (Terry O'Quinn) is doing what he can, the townsfolk are getting antsy after a boy — who was a friend of Marty's — dies, with many leaving the area while others look for some "private justice." As the town closes in on itself for protection, Marty grows restless during the holiday season and sneaks out at night to play with fireworks that his uncle Red gave him, only to be confronted by a werewolf. He narrowly escapes by shooting a rocket into the beast's eye, but now he's stuck learning to protect himself from werewolves before the next full moon, and he has to get someone besides his sister to believe his story. Thankfully, Red is willing to humor him while his sister tries to find a townsperson with something wrong with one of their eyes. Written for the screen by Stephen King (adapting one of his short stories), there's some clunky dialogue throughout Silver Bullet, and the film feels like a cheap TV movie — which isn't hard to believe considering director Daniel Attias's television background — but when Marty and Uncle Red are on the screen it becomes involving. Busey plays the perfect uncle who never grew up; with his puffy face, foul mouth, and drinking habit, you can see why the kids love him and why their parents are so nervous about having him around. Busey enlivens every moment he's on screen, and he makes for the kind of uncle everyone wishes they had; it's no surprise the kids turn to him for help. Though Carlo Rimbaldi's special effects never match the grotesque majesty of Rick Baker's in An American Werewolf in London (nor do they even come close), it's an effective coming-of-age film, with the interactions between Busey and kids enough to make up for the awkward elements. Paramount's DVD release of Silver Bullet presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and DD 2.0 mono audio, sans extras. Keep-case.

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