Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Silver Bullet (1985)

Any movie based on a Stephen King book is usually bound to be, uh, interesting at least. This one, called Silver Bullet, is about a werewolf and a kid in a magic motorcycle wheelchair invented by Gary Busey. Do I even have to say anything else to get you to read more? I mean, really?

Director: Daniel Attias
Starring: Gary Busey, Corey Haim

Co-written with Nathan.

This thing starts with a truck driver guy hangin' out by the train tracks, digging with a shovel to find something I don't even want to know about, I'm sure. Then he gets decapitated by a werewolf, which is always really a bummer way to end the night. But people in town just assume he got decapitated by the oncoming train in a preventable accident. Because, you know, it's one of those trains that extends a mechanical arm holding a Japanese Katana to decapitate everyone standing in its vicinity. It's just how trains work and is pristine, prime technology!

So we've established that everyone in this town is truly stupid and/or doesn't care at all about their fellow townspeople. Great... now we establish that our main characters are a little boy and girl living in town. The little girl is especially suited to be the lead in a horror movie, we see, as she gets scared by an obviously fake snake hanging from a tree in the middle of the fucking day. I'm not sure why that scares her – maybe cardboard and paper fake animals and bad attempts at pranks are just terrifying for her.

"Do you have any Halloween props from the costume store? BECAUSE THAT WOULD TRULY SCARE ME TO DEATH!"

Then she and her wheelchair-bound brother, played by Corey Haim of many 80s movies fame, are going home and she blames him for the prank, being that his friend was the one who did it. She says it isn't HER fault that he's in a wheelchair – so why does she have to take care of him, right? Yeah, if it's not your fault directly that someone is wheelchair-bound, you can just say fuck it and toss them to the curb. That's how it works.

I guess their drunk loser uncle comes into the picture, played by Gary Busey, whose acting direction in this seemed to be “just do whatever you want.” He mugs for the camera a shitload, screams a lot, and then accuses the mother of not really knowing her son and thinking his only personality is to be stuck in a wheelchair forever. Yeah, I love it when loser relatives stay at my house because they have nowhere else to go and then criticize me, too.

"I'm the kind of jackass who just says whatever he wants."

While that's going on, we get introduced to this idiot redneck guy who is about every cartoon stereotype of that you can imagine - he talks to himself about kicking peoples' asses, he drinks beer and he screams at everyone. What a rich, compelling character. Apparently he's interrupted watching pro wrestling (the injustice!) by the sound of someone messing around in his greenhouse. So wait a second, how does this guy have a greenhouse again? He really just doesn't seem like the kind of guy to have one. What is he growing in there? Weeds he can trample all over when he's drunk tomorrow?

Hey now. I'm sure this man has a Shakespearean background that would totally vindicate him for us.

I love how seemingly every setting in one of these movies looks like the architect went, “Okay, just make it look like it belongs in a horror movie.” They're already fucking creepy places to begin with. Did this guy just ask for the Jurassic Park set to be built on his property? For that matter, it takes a while for the werewolf to kill him... this werewolf seems to have an unusual amount of patience and discerning for a bloodthirsty monster.

The werewolf is not content to just slash peoples' heads off anymore... he's got a taste for plotting now. He has blueprints and carefully constructed plans and shit.

The deaths of luminary town members like this guy prompts outcry around town as they plan to go on a manhunt for the thing. They do try that, and they even bring along their one black guy in town so he can die instantly, because this movie and others like it are the reason that trope exists in the first place!

Then one other guy attacks the wolf with a baseball bat, only for the wolf to, apparently, take it from him and start beating HIM up with it!

You have to admit, it would be worth it to die for a cause such as the badassery of this scene.

I fucking love that. A werewolf wielding a baseball bat. How is that not the new coolest thing ever?

After that, I guess, the whole town is in mourning and they have a funeral service where everyone else also turns into werewolves, which is probably not how their dead loved ones would've wanted them to react. But it's all just a dream by the priest... I guess his active imagination is getting way out of hand. Maybe he should quit reading so many Stephen King books before bed.

Not good organ playing. Try again.

I guess everyone has different ways of coping, though. The priest may have dreams about werewolves, but Gary Busey makes his nephew a wheelchair that is more like a goddamn motorcycle, for the kid to ride. My favorite part of this scene is that Busey tells him to be safe and acts like it's just a normal bike. Dude, you made a fucking war tank for this kid. Seriously – he can drive at like 60 miles per hour on that thing. You can see him outspeeding cars on the road later!

"Remember to be safe on the horrific death machine I made you, kid."
A cop driving by scratches his head: "Is there even a law regulating what that thing is?"

Then the kid proceeds to race around also setting off fireworks while doing so! Because fuck safety, I guess. Hey, I'll give the movie this – at least it's versatile. I wouldn't want the only deaths in a horror movie to be from a werewolf, after all. Some of them can be from wheelchair/fireworks-related accidents.

But he doesn't die, further teaching him that he can do whatever he wants and be completely invincible. He can ride off into the sunset like this is some completely different, feel-good movie, because hey, why not?

Oh, should we maybe get back to the werewolf plot now? I mean, I had almost forgotten it was part of the movie. I thought this was just a movie about magic wheelchair daredevil stunts now. The kid DOES get into some trouble when the werewolf finds him while he's out at night shooting off fireworks – why are his parents letting him do that anyway? Do they just have no curfew and WANT the wolf to kill him? I mean, I know he's disabled, but... oh, God, are they trying to have him killed like some old Biblical shit where disabled children are deemed unworthy? Jesus. I mean, that's the ONLY explanation for something this stupid.

Or... maybe not. I dunno. Either way, the kid shoots the wolf in the eye with a firework, and is then able to escape.

The next day, he and his sister go hunting all over town for a guy with only one eye, thinking for sure that that means they'll find the werewolf. Personally, in a podunk small town like this, I dunno if "werewolf" is the only reason someone would have one eye – walk a block over and you could just find a guy who poked his eye out with a drill or something while making a new chair for his living room. But I like their optimism.

They find him pretty easily – it's the priest, who now wears an eyepatch and also has a garage full of a whole pile of shit unceremoniously thrown there with no order at all. Wow! You'd think he'd hide this better! I guess not! Gotta love the sister's reaction to seeing a small field mouse in the garage - she's more afraid of this and that dumb fake snake from earlier than she is of the real werewolf. I guess everyone is different!

Oh, and the way she figures out he's the werewolf is because she sees that baseball bat from earlier. Whoops. You'd have thought he would try to hide that better. I guess you would have too high expectations.

Pictured: the scariest thing in the movie.
It doesn't exactly take a master fucking detective...

Speaking of which, what did that priest tell everyone in town about why he suddenly has an eyepatch? “I was drafted in the Vietnam War for a day”? Not sure that would be convincing. But maybe it is, and maybe everyone in town is a fucking idiot.

Then we see how he acts when he's not a werewolf – he drives around spying on little boys playing baseball. Huh, that's odd – most monster movies usually don't have the monster's human form as the scarier part of him.

The two kids convince Gary Busey to believe them just enough to talk to the sheriff about it. The sheriff then goes out to the house alone with no backup – you know, like cops are supposed to do when investigating a possible suspect in multiple murders.

Surprisingly (did you read that with sarcasm?) the wolf easily kills him – so easily that it's like he wasn't a sheriff but a newborn baby, completely helpless and dumb. I love how, after this, nobody in town says a word about the sheriff at all. I guess you could say it's because the movie is nearing its climax and didn't have time to spend on him, but I prefer to think it's really just like “Oh, the sheriff vanished? Who cares!” This is how it is in my imagination.

What is the obsession with using bats in this movie? Does the writer know werewolves don't usually use baseball bats to carry out their kills? For a movie with a fucking werewolf in it, this has a surprisingly light amount of actual wolf-related carnage going on.

The climax is Busey and the kids holed up in their house and waiting around for the werewolf to show up, like the world's worst date who is late for everything. Apparently the wolf waits for Busey to get annoyed and shout at the kids for making the whole thing up to cut the power and attack them. He really has a theatrical flourish for timing. This wolf should be a magician or something else that needs good timing.

The ensuing fight scene is OK I guess. They kill him by shooting him with a... wait for it... SILVER BULLET! And then he turns back into the priest, in what I have to admit, is a pretty cool use of effects.

Well this doesn't look healthy at all. I wonder how they'll explain the dead priest in their house anyway. I'm sure that will be a fun conversation.

The film ends with some narration about how the sister loves her brother and what not... and then the movie ends without showing us the inevitable future where the brother rides that crazy wheelchair thing until he collides with a car and it kills him. So it's a happy ending, as is!

That's Silver Bullet, the silly movie about werewolves and wheelchairs and priests that become less scary when they turn into werewolves. The story is pretty over the top and Gary Busey only adds fuel to that fire. In the end, it's not too bad of a flick. Certainly one of the more entertaining King adaptations I've seen. If you want something fun and a bit goofy, Silver Bullet is a decent pick.

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