Silver Bullet (film)

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Silver Bullet
Silver bullet poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDan Attias
Don Coscarelli (Uncredited)[1]
Written byStephen King
Based onCycle of the Werewolf
by Stephen King
Produced byMartha De Laurentiis
Narrated byTovah Feldshuh
CinematographyArmando Nannuzzi
Edited byDaniel Loewenthal
Music byJay Chattaway
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 11, 1985 (1985-10-11)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million
Box office$12.4 million or $5.4 million (North America)[2]

Silver Bullet is a 1985 American horror thriller film based on the 1983 Stephen King novella Cycle of the Werewolf. It stars Gary Busey, Everett McGill, and Corey Haim, with Megan Follows, Terry O'Quinn, Lawrence Tierney, Bill Smitrovich, Kent Broadhurst, David Hart, and James Gammon in supporting roles. The film is directed by Dan Attias, written by King and produced by Martha De Laurentiis.


The rocky relationship between Jane Coslaw, the film's narrator, and her paraplegic younger brother Marty changes after a series of murders in their small rural town of Tarker's Mills, Maine, starting in the spring of 1976.

Railroad worker Arnie Westrum is decapitated by an unseen attacker, pregnant Stella Randolph prepares to kill herself but is brutally murdered in her own bedroom, an abusive father Milt Sturmfuller is killed in his greenhouse, and Marty's best friend, Brady Kincaid, is also killed. After Brady's death, citizens form a vigilante justice group. Although local Sheriff Joe Haller attempts to stop the citizens, he relents after Brady's father Herb berates him. Reverend Lester Lowe fails to dissuade the townsfolk from causing further bloodshed.

While the vigilantes hunt for the killer in the nearby woods, three are attacked and killed. The survivors – especially Andy Fairton – later deny seeing anything unusual. Afterwards, Reverend Lowe dreams that he is presiding over a mass funeral when his congregation – including the bodies in the caskets – begins to transform into werewolves before his eyes and attack him. He awakens screaming and asks God to "let it end."

Because of the mounting unsolved murders, curfews are put in place, canceling the town’s Fourth of July celebration. The Coslaws decide to have their own backyard party and invite their mother Nan's alcoholic brother, Red. Red gives Marty a custom-built wheelchair/motorcycle, which he nicknames the "Silver Bullet," as well as a pile of fireworks so he can have his own celebration. Marty uses the Silver Bullet to go out in the middle of the night to a bridge where he lights the fireworks. The fireworks get the werewolf's attention, and it confronts him, but he escapes after launching a rocket into the creature's eye.

Marty enlists Jane's help to look for someone with a newly injured or missing eye. She discovers that Reverend Lowe is missing his left eye. Realizing that no adult would believe his story, Marty begins sending anonymous notes to Reverend Lowe telling him that he knows who he is, what he is, and that he should commit suicide in order to stop the killings. Lowe tries to run Marty off the road with his car. When Marty is trapped under a closed covered bridge, Lowe, whose condition has fractured his sanity, tries to rationalize the murders he has committed as doing God's work. Lowe apologizes and moves in for the kill until Marty calls for help from a passerby.

The siblings manage to convince Red that Lowe is connected to the murders and attempted to kill Marty. Red persuades Sheriff Haller to investigate. That night, Haller, still skeptical but desperate to find the killer, goes to Lowe's house and finds Lowe has locked himself in his garage to restrain himself from further killings. Before Haller can arrest him, Lowe transforms and bludgeons Haller to death with a baseball bat.

Knowing the werewolf is coming for them next, Marty and Jane convince Red to take Jane's silver cross and Marty's silver medallion to the gunsmith, who melts them down into a silver bullet.

On the night of the full moon, they wait for the werewolf, who cuts the power to the house and smashes its way inside, attacking Red. The bullet is nearly lost in the melee, but Marty is able to retrieve it and shoots the werewolf in the right eye. The corpse turns back into Lowe before dying. As the trio recover, Marty and Jane say they love each other and embrace, and Jane narrates that although she hadn't always been able to say it, she was able to say it from then on.


In addition, Joe Wright plays Brady Kincaid, Marty's best friend, while Tovah Feldshuh provides the narration as the voice of the adult Jane.


The film was shot around Wilmington, North Carolina.[3] Filming began in October 1984 and took about 2+12 months to complete, finishing shortly before Christmas. In the novella, the werewolf was said to snarl in nearly human words and the werewolf was supposed to speak in the original screenplay, although this was eliminated after a rewrite. Gary Busey felt a certain kinship with the Uncle Red character and was allowed to ad lib all of his lines in certain takes of each scene in which he appeared. Although he read the lines as scripted in most of the takes, Stephen King and Daniel Attias liked the ad lib scenes better and decided to include most of Busey's ad lib scenes in the final cut of the film.[3]

King asked for the werewolf to be plain, and hard to see, in contrast to the hulking monsters seen in other werewolf films and books in the early to mid-1980s, with the end result being a creature which looked more like a black bear than anything else and did not really have any identifying characteristics. After seeing Carlo Rambaldi's design, per King's request, producer Dino de Laurentiis was very unhappy and demanded a change, which both King and Rambaldi refused. Eventually pre-production fell behind schedule and director Don Coscarelli opted to start filming the non-werewolf scenes without knowing what would happen with the werewolf suit. After completing the non-werewolf scenes and not having any clear picture about what would happen with the film Coscarelli resigned as director and was replaced with Attias.[4] When pressured to either cancel the film or accept the design de Laurentiis relented and allowed filming to continue with Rambaldi's werewolf suit. A modern dance actor was hired to perform the stunts inside the suit but de Laurentiis was also unhappy with his performance and demanded a change. As a result, Everett McGill, who played Reverend Lester Lowe in human form, wound up acting out most of the scenes in the werewolf suit and was credited with a dual role.[3]


Silver Bullet was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures in October 1985. It grossed $12,361,866 at the box office.[5]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment in 2002,[6] on Blu-ray in Germany on September 14, 2017, under the name Der Werwolf von Tarker-Mills.[7] Then on Blu-ray in Australia on January 3, 2018 by Umbrella Entertainment,[8] and on Blu-ray from Scream Factory on December 17, 2019.[9]


On Rotten Tomatoes, Silver Bullet holds an approval rating of 45% based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 5.20/10.[10] Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four.[11] Ebert admitted that he thought that the film was a parody of the novella and of King's work in general, but said that he enjoyed the film.[11] Conversely, Vincent Canby of The New York Times dismissed the film as "very low-grade Stephen King fiction" and thought the werewolf "looks less like a wolf than Smokey Bear with a terrible hangover."[12] Variety wrote, "'Silver Bullet' is a Stephen King filmette from his scriptette from his novelette which may sell some tickettes but not without regrettes ... the kids have a silver bullet, the only known power that will stop a werewolf. Unfortunately, there's no known power that will stop films like this."[13] Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one star out of four and called it "a limp retelling of the werewolf legend that is about as frightening as a rubbery Richard Nixon mask."[14] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The human drama gives 'Silver Bullet' an extra warmth—and Marty's handicap and ingenuity make him a more attractive hero. But, with the exception of one startling dream sequence (a church congregation in mass vulpine metamorphosis), 'Silver Bullet' never really surprises you."[15] Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post remarked that the plot "is about as suspenseful as looking at your watch to see which minute will pop up next," but Gary Busey's lively performance "almost makes the movie bearable."[16]

In a retrospective review, Felix Vasquez Jr. of Film Threat and Cinema Crazed[17] wrote, "'Silver Bullet' features one of the best climaxes in a horror film thanks to director Daniel Attias, and garners a very entertaining and creepy story that develops beyond a typical werewolf movie. When I think of great horror films, when I think of great werewolf films, and when I think of a great King film, I think of this."[18]


  1. ^ "Stephen King: Why Silver Bullet's Original Director Quit the Movie". Screen Rant. 14 December 2020.
  2. ^ De Laurentiis PRODUCER'S PICTURE DARKENS: KNOEDELSEDER, WILLIAM K, Jr. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1987: 1.
  3. ^ a b c Corey, Joe (19 December 2019). "Blu-ray Review: Stephen King's Silver Bullet | Inside Pulse". Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  4. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2020-12-14). "Stephen King: Why Silver Bullet's Original Director Quit The Movie". ScreenRant. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  5. ^ "Silver Bullet". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  6. ^ "Silver Bullet (DVD)". Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  7. ^ "Stephen King's Silver Bullet Blu-ray Release Date September 14, 2017". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Silver Bullet Blu-ray Release Date January 3, 2018". Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Silver Bullet Blu-ray (Collector's Edition)".
  10. ^ "Silver Bullet". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (October 15, 1985). ""Silver Bullet" Movie Review & Film Summary (1985)". Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 11, 1985). "Screen: 'Silver Bullet'". The New York Times. C18.
  13. ^ "Film Reviews: Silver Bullet". Variety. October 16, 1985. 10.
  14. ^ Kogan, Rick (October 16, 1985). "'Silver Bullet': A sheep of a movie in wolf's garb". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 3.
  15. ^ Wilmington, Michael (October 11, 1985). "'Silver Bullet' Misses the Target". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 4.
  16. ^ Attanasio, Paul (October 17, 1985). "A Bomb of a 'Bullet'". The Washington Post. B10.
  17. ^ "Felix Vasquez Jr". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 28, 2019.
  18. ^ Felix, Vasquez Jr. "Silver Bullet (1985)". Cinema Crazed. Retrieved July 28, 2019.

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