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Film / Silver Bullet

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A 1985 film adaptation of Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, directed by Daniel Attias, produced by Dino De Laurentiis, and starring Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Gary Busey, Everett McGill, Terry O'Quinn, and Lawrence Tierney.

A small town is ravaged by a series of brutal killings. Marty (Corey Haim), a young boy in a wheelchair, suspects that a werewolf is to blame and is proven right when it tries to attack him. He now has to find out its human identity and a way to deal with it with his older sister and a drunk uncle (Gary Busey).

Silver Bullet provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: The werewolf's human identity is driving after Marty with the intent of running him off the road. The car pulls into the opposing lane and gets right alongside Marty's Super Wheelchair, but an approaching truck forces slamming on the brakes and swerving, giving Marty more time. Marty is soon afterwards cornered at the bridge with no way out, but Mr. Zimmerman suddenly drives by. Marty calls out to Zimmerman for help, and the werewolf's human identity opts to flee rather than risk being exposed.
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  • Action Survivor: Marty. He's the only person that legitimately injures the Werewolf, and then kill him. Not bad for a twelve-year-old kid confined to a wheelchair.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The werewolf was no slouch in the book, but his method of dealing with the mob hunting him during the full moon was to move to another town for the night so they wouldn't find him. In this movie, he actually goes to confront them, and wins.
    • Mr. Knopfler manages this twice over in a Composite Character sort of way. In the book he is just a random victim who runs the diner. In the film, he's a no-nonsense bartender whose quick to break up fights with threats of his baseball bat, and joins in the hunting parties that pursue the werewolf. Billy Robertson, the local bartender from the book is also less tough than Knopfler, letting a drunk leave his bar despite knowing it might be a werewolf night, and not talking back to a belligerent customer out of fear of being hit.
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    • In the book, Constable Neary is a somewhat incompetent man who fails to follow up on good leads and despite boasting about good police work, during the next full moon is caught drinking and unprepared in his car. Sheriff Haller in the film is a more competent and professional authority figure who gets a good attempt at Shaming the Mob and does investigate more thoroughly.
    • Marty and Jane. Marty gets a cooler, motorized wheelchair in contrast to his normal one from the book, and is able to climb out of the window with his upper body. In the second half, the two go out trying to find the werewolf's identity rather than stumbling across it accidentally while trick or treating.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Stella is a deeply lonely, middle-aged virgin in the book and a younger woman upset about being abandoned by her boyfriend after getting pregnant in the film.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole: In this movie, the werewolf actually goes in the woods to confront the hunters when they go looking for him, when he could have easily avoided them, seeing how he knew they were going to go look for him. In the original book, he instead leaves the town for the night so he will be out of their reach when he transforms. One possibility for this is that he didn't yet know that he was the werewolf in the film (whereas in the book the hunting parties went out after the werewolf had lost an eye and started receiving Marty's threatening letters, both of which helped make him realize the truth about himself).
  • Adaptation Title Change: Silver Bullet is based on the graphic novel Cycle of the Werewolf.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Two of the werewolf's victims, Clyde Corliss the church janitor and an unnamed drifter.
    • Several minor townspeople who never encounter the werewolf in the book, including Recurring Extra principal Ollie Parker, barmaid Elise Fournier (who moves away out of fear of the werewolf) and hot-headed gas station attendant Pucky Davis.
    • Marty's grandfather.
    • Pete Zinneman, Elmer's brother and the man who starts the hunting party to go after the werewolf after it slaughters his herd of pigs.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Haller is a more sympathetic and professional man than his book counterpart.
    • Virgil the gas station attendant is a Nice Guy while the gas station attendant in the book was a unpleasant hothead who hit a customer in the face with the gas nozzle in an argument over the price and then commented that he didn't know why the guy was complaining, because he could have hit him harder.
    • Milt is a downplayed example. He's still pretty rotten to both Marty and his family but his book counterpart cheated on his wife (giving her an STD) and physically abused her with alarming regularity.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Two minor examples.
    • In the book, Elmer Zinneman is one of the leaders of the hunters who go after the werewolf, and does so with careful and efficient planning while knowing that it is a supernatural beast they're seeking. In the movie, Elmer is just a friendly passerby who sees Marty trapped on the covered bridge and interrupts Reverend Lowe's attempt on his life and wasn't even part of the mob of hunters.
    • Arnie Westrum is shown to just be a drunken man who is decapitated from the shadows by the werewolf. In the book, he is hinted to be psychic (or at least keenly perceptive), having had omens about something bad coming to Tarker's Mills and not letting in the werewolf when he hears scratching at his door, as well as putting up a brief fight with his ice axe.
  • Adult Fear: Brady's dad comes into the local bar and asks, "Has anybody in here seen my son, Brady?"
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The werewolf becomes more violent the closer the full moon draws near and is strongly implied to be unable to control the urge to kill. Lowe offers up a motive, but it comes across as a lie he tells himself to try and justify the fact he can't stop murdering people.
  • Ascended Extra: Brady's father Herb Kincaid is just mentioned once or twice in the book but has some notable scenes, including a Shaming the Mob one, in the film. Brady himself appears in several earlier scenes as a friend of Marty.
  • Asshole Victim: At least one of the werewolf's victims fell under this category. The first was Milt Sturmfuller, the overbearing father of Marty's girlfriend. From the way he talked to his daughter, it could be inferred that he was pretty emotionally abusive to her at the very least. He also made some pretty nasty remarks about Marty even though Marty hadn't done anything to him.
  • Batter Up!: Owen Knopfler wields a baseball bat named PEACEMAKER which he mainly uses to stop Andy Fairton from starting fights. The werewolf ultimately beats him to death with it, and later uses it against Sheriff Haller.
  • Bear Trap: When the posse searches the forest, one guy accidentally steps in a bear trap.
  • Canon Foreigner: Andy Fairton.
  • Cassandra Truth: Averted. Once Marty has seen the creature with his own eyes, injuring it in the process, the people he trusts do in fact believe him.
    • Jane believes him for reasons she can't quite explain, despite how crazy it sounds, and begins helping him track down anyone with an eye injury matching the one inflicted on the werewolf with a firework. She discovers both a murder weapon and the injured Lowe.
    • Marty insists through his uncle that Sheriff Haller should question Reverend Lowe after learning that he started wearing an eye patch after he hit the werewolf in the eye. After realizing that he doesn't have any other leads, he decides to take the advice. Of course, he's killed for his trouble anyway.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Reverend Lowe after his dream where his churchgoers all turn into werewolves.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Kent Broadhurst as Herb Kincaid. And Everett McGillas Reverend Lowe.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted (like in the book). Reverend Lowe is a major character and a Baptist, but the town also has a catholic priest whose a minor character (he's the hunter with Virgil who steps into a bear trap) and Marty has a St. Christopher's Medal which is more associated with Catholicism.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The werewolf is quite adept at using whatever weapon or object happens to be within easy reach, in addition to his ability to rip people to shreds barehanded.
  • Cool Uncle: Red fits it to a tee, and Marty practically idolizes him. Red actively spends time with him, insists there's more to the kid than his disability, builds him a high end motorized wheelchair, gives his fireworks to set off (after Marty says a carnival he was looking forward to was cancelled because of the murders), entertains all this talk of werewolves (albeit occasionally expressing irritation), and defends the kids during the climax. On the other hand, Red's lifestyle is critiqued by others: his constant drinking is portrayed negatively, he apparently has a few failed marriages, Jane is often dismissive of him, and he has a strained relationship with his sister. Nan even remarks that it's easy to come in every so often and be the cool relative; it's hard to actually raise the child.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Red demonstrates himself throughout the movie as an irresponsible drunk who is the laughing stock of the town. The first thing he does when he sees the werewolf? Smash a chair over its head, and then take it on with a fire poker.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Milt Sturmfuller was one of the werewolf’s final victims in the novel, but here he is the third victim.
    • In the book the werewolf laid low while the posse hunted for him. Here the werewolf goes after and kills several of them.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Once Sheriff Haller has no more leads, he decides to take a look at the reverend's place due to Red's earlier insistence. Once he actually finds some damning evidence, he is of course discovered by Lowe, who then promptly transforms and bludgeons him to death.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Red argues that Nan treats Marty as just some helpless kid and that there's more to him than his disability. In her defense, she counters that Red only drops by every so often and doesn't actually have to put in the work that comes with raising children (disabled or otherwise). Of course, unlike many others in the movie, Marty ends up surviving multiple encounters with the werewolf.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Stella is about to commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills when she is attacked and killed by the werewolf.
    • The werewolf is implied to have contemplated this, but due to his religious beliefs, he can't bring himself to do it.
  • Epic Fail: An angry mob goes into the woods in a bid to drive out the killer. They don't suspect he's among their number, which is a real possibility, and no-one knows the killer is also a werewolf. All it accomplishes is adding more victims to bury.
  • Eye Scream: When the werewolf attacks Marty during his tryout of the fireworks that Red gave him, he defends himself by shooting a rocket into the beast's eye. Later, Marty shoots the werewolf's other eye out with a silver bullet, killing it.
  • Fairplay Whodunnit: Before Reverend Lowe is revealed to be the werewolf, there is a scene where the character has an intense Nightmare Sequence showing several other townsfolk turning into werewolves during a sermon.
  • Faux Affably Evil: "Give my best to your brother, Jane."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Subverted. We never see the act of the werewolf killing Brady, but while we see the bloody crime scene from a distance afterwards, along with Brady’s kite covered in blood, we never see the body itself. Judging by how Brady's dad reacted though, it wasn’t pretty.
  • He Knows Too Much: The werewolf begins gunning for Marty and Jane after realizing they figured out its human identity.
  • Hero of Another Story: The gunsmith knows how to make silver bullets and one of his lines implies he is aware of the existence of werewolves. You have to wonder what exactly he has experienced prior to the events of this movie.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The movie takes place over a long period of time, and many of the kills occur on random nights of no significance. The climax, however, is on Halloween night.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Lowe justifies killing the pregnant woman by saying he knew she was going to commit suicide. He cops to killing the body, but he insists he saved the soul. Of course, he says this after he just tried to kill Marty, so he may just be believing his own lies at this point.
  • Improvised Weapon: When the werewolf grabs Jane, Red attacks it with a chair. After it breaks, he grabs a firepoker.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The opening credits present the film as Stephen King's Silver Bullet.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Virgil the gas station attendant seems to be familiar and friendly with Marty while filling up the silver bullet in one scene.
  • It Can Think: The werewolf often demonstrates that it is not some mindless beast. Savage as it is, it often thinks out its moves, such as when getting the drop on the mob or when cutting the power at the Coslaw house. Of course, Stupid Evil also comes up here and there, as seen below.
  • Kid Hero: Marty.
  • Lunacy: Discussed Trope. When Mary first starts suspecting that a werewolf is behind the killings, Red just says its probably a psycho, since the "full moon drives them crazy". Once they know it's an actual werewolf, they believe the closer the full moon is, the more vicious it likely becomes.
  • Motive Rant: Reverend Lowe tries to justify his actions by saying to Marty that most of his victims were sinners.
  • The Narrator: Adult Jane narrates the film.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Uncle Red has blonde hair.
  • Off with His Head!: The very first victim gets his head knocked off by the werewolf.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • One member of the mob, Aspinall, has this reaction when he realizes the werewolf is there with them, hiding under the fog.
    • Jane when she realizes she's alone in a confined space with the werewolf's human identity and that the person knows she's figured it out.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Hearing the kids' claims of a werewolf, Red admits he expects this kind of stuff from Marty, but he says Jane has always been practical and level-headed.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: When Red questions the culprit's supposed lycanthropy by pointing out that there wasn't a full moon when Marty was attacked, Marty and Jane posit that while the stories say that the werewolves turn during the full moon, this werewolf may perhaps turn whenever he likes.
    • The werewolf also targets a very specific woman in her own home and breaks in to murder her there, which is uncharacteristic of most werewolves who in both mythology and other works of modern fiction keep to themselves for the most part and only attack and prey on those they come across.
  • Police Are Useless: The cops are hard pressed to actually do anything when the murders start and blow off anyone who calls them out on not taking the investigation seriously. To be fair, the town’s police department consists of two people.
  • Properly Paranoid: After what he did to its eye, Marty expects the werewolf to come after him in one form or another for both revenge and to prevent any chance of the truth coming out. Lowe makes that abundantly clear very shortly.
  • Put on a Bus: Tammy and her mother depart the story, apparently leaving town, after Milt's death.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Closeups on the werewolf's eyes have them lighted with red.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Mr. Knopfler is attacked and dragged beneath the mist by the werewolf, and he makes a last-ditch effort to drive it off with his baseball bat. We see a human hand rising out the mist and hitting with the bat twice, there is a beat, and then we see the werewolf's hand holding the bat and striking its victim instead.
    • The hunter who steps in a bear trap. His companion carefully pries open the device's "jaws", which have made a bloody mess of the man's ankle ... and then loses his grip when a call from another hunting team startles him, letting them champ down on the poor guy's leg all over again.
  • Resist the Beast: Played with. Based on the dream he had, it was heavily implied Reverend Lowe wanted to do this, since he considered his curse to be a nightmare. However, circumstances of the story where he loses an eye to Marty, receives a bunch of letters implying they know he's the werewolf and encourages him to commit suicide, and is possibly driven more and more insane by a combination of the full moon coming closer and the trauma of losing his eye practically ensure he never seriously tries to put this into practice or put any effort into maintaining his humanity in the face of the beast within himself.
  • The Reveal: The werewolf is Rev. Lowe.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: As Andy rants on about the failures of the cops, asking about what they pay their taxes for, another customer named Aspinall (apparently some kind of city Hall employee) quips that he didn't know Andy has been paying her taxes.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Red serves as one to Marty, being a fun and loving guy but also a drunk that's quick to shirk his responsibilities. Nan openly worries about Marty turning into someone like him, someone who just gives up and coasts by.
    • Appropriately, Nan is one to Jane. Early on, Jane's narration notes that continually having to watch after Marty was a cross to bear; we then see her suffer an embarrassing prank and exclaiming she hates him. Later on, it's clear that Nan didn't enjoy a lifetime of watching after Red; their one-on-one scene highlights a noticeable strain on their relationship.
  • The Sheriff: Joe Haller is the local sheriff and tries to both find the werewolf and keep the people from going off the rails.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: After one death too many, the town gathers an angry mob to go on a Witch Hunt into the woods to find the killer. The search is poorly organized and at one point a townsman steps on a bear trap, badly injuring himself. Then the werewolf shows up to start killing people.
  • Saved by Canon: At the beginning of the film, an older Jane is narrating the story so it's clear that she'll survive the events of the film.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Brady being killed by the werewolf.
  • Silver Bullet: Marty and Jane give their silver necklaces to Red, so that he'll take them to a gun store and have them turned into a silver bullet. In addition, the film scores points for tackling head-on the difficulties in making bullets out of silver, instead of someone simply getting silver bullets and going to work. When Red takes the silver to the gunsmith, he says that his nephew just discovered the Lone Ranger and wants to make him silver bullets as a gift. The gunsmith states that silver isn't a good choice for making bullets. When the bullets are done and Red picks them up, the gunsmith has a few lines where he states that he crafted the bullets carefully and compensated for using silver by giving the bullets a lower powder load than would be used for a lead bullet, making them more accurate. The gunsmith also pretty directly implies he knows exactly what Red is up to.
    Red: Accurate? Uh...they're just a gift. What would you shoot with a silver bullet?
    Gunsmith: Maybe a werewolf?
  • Sinister Minister: A variation when it comes to Reverend Lowe. At the start, he appears to be a genuinely conscientious priest who wants to do good for his flock and is horrified by what his curse has made him into. However, events of the movie gradually turn him more and more into this due to a possible combination of the trauma of losing his eye, being sent multiple letters encouraging him to commit suicide, and the full moon drawing closer and smothering his humanity. By that time, he's become completely evil and depraved, attempting to murder Marty and giving some poorly justified reasons on shaky religious grounds for his murders.
  • Shaming the Mob: When the posse is organizing itself, Sheriff Haller tries talk them out of it. He is in turn shamed by Brady's dad, who's fresh off from his son's funeral.
  • Stupid Evil: Justified. Initially the werewolf is smart enough to kill without drawing too much attention but, as the full moon draws near, he becomes more savage and his victims more numerous. A drunk dying by the railway doesn't draw suspicion. However, mauling a woman and a child to death sparks a mass manhunt for the killer. An act which leads Lowe to wittingly murder three more people and brings himself even closer to being caught.
  • Super Wheelchair: Marty's uncle Red rigs up a silver-painted wheelchair/motorcycle combo for his nephew as a gift. He even gets it filled up at the local gas station like a car.
  • The Tease: When Jane wasn't involved with taking care of Marty or investigating the werewolf, she was pretty flirtatious with some of the local guys.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: A rodent startles Jane into falling over and knocking down a stack of cans. Her reaction seems a bit extreme, considering it's a gerbil.
  • This Was His True Form: The werewolf turns back into human after he is fatally hurt, but still rises for one more Jump Scare.
  • Tragic Monster: Downplayed. The werewolf has a scene as a human where it wishes for things to stop but otherwise, it shows no remorse for its actions. Justified as the human side gets suppressed more and more as the full moon approaches.
  • Wham Shot: When Jane is returning bottles for the bottle drive, she talks to Reverend Lowe, who's on his knees gardening with his back to her. Then the camera cuts to his face — and, complete with Scare Chord, we see that he's sporting an eye-patch over the same eye that Marty damaged on the werewolf...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Deputy Sylvester, who never appears when Haller is hearing Red and Marty's suspicions or after Haller is killed.
    • Herb Kincaid and Andy Fairton are never seen after the werewolf's fight with the pursuing mob, despite their prominent roles in it.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jane displays a strong fear of snakes and rodents.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The werewolf mauls young Brady to death and kills a pregnant woman too. No-one is safe.


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