A mild lycanthropic romp based on Stephen King’s The Cycle of the Werewolf.
The peaceable town of Tarker’s Mills finds itself beset by a series of brutal slayings, all of which take place on the night of the full moon. Marty Coslaw (Haim), a paraplegic teenager, learns the terrible truth for himself when he is attacked by the bloodthirsty werewolf, only managing to escape certain death by shooting off a firework into the beast’s eye.
With the aid of his sister Jane (Follows) and his rowdy Uncle Red (Busey), Marty discovers that the monster is none other than the town priest (McGill). And once the holy man realizes his secret is out, he becomes willing to fight the boy to keep it that way… by tooth and by claw.
Although it’s crimped by some irritating habits of King’s that come through in the final script (the presence of at least one idiot drunk, immature dialogue), Silver Bullet manages to be mostly clean and efficient pulp that goes down smoothly. It helps that the werewolf kills on hand are fairly spirited if a little out-there—at one point the monster beats a man to death with his own baseball bat.
Somewhat similar in tone and plot to Fright Night from the same year, the film strives to wring some suspense out of the “character who knows too much” dynamic, but this is again hampered by some rather silly set pieces, such as when McGill and Haim play cat and mouse with automobile and motorized wheelchair, respectively.
McGill does exude a dark charm as the tortured clergyman and his dream sequence of the town’s inhabitants transforming into werewolves during a church sermon is a nice moment that allows the effects department to go all-out in a skin-tearing orgy. His own bipedal man-wolf is more cuddly than creepy, but we’re happy to give the crew an “A” for effort.
Though at times it feels neutered, this wolf still has some bite.