• Silver Bullet (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: December 17th, 2019.
    Director: Daniel Attias
    Cast: Wendy Walker, Terry O'Quinn, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Megan Follows, Bill Smitrovich
    Year: 1985
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    Silver Bullet – Movie Review:

    Set in the small town of Tarker’s Mill, Maine in the summer of 1975, Silver Bullet (loosely based on the Stephen King/Bernie Wrightson collaboration Cycle Of The Werewolf) opens with the murder of a railroad worker, his severed head found not too far from his body. The cops investigate and figure it could have been an accident – after all, he had a bit of a drinking problem. Shortly after, however, Stella Randolph (Wendy Walker) is ripped to shreds in her own living room… clearly not an accident.

    The cops, led by Sheriff Joe Haller (Terry O'Quinn), can’t quite seem to figure out who is behind the murders. This doesn’t go over well with Andy Fairton (Bill Smitrovich), who takes it upon himself to form an angry mob of townspeople to see that justice is served. It doesn’t stop the murders, a kid named Brady (Joe Wright) turns out to be the next victim. Reverend Lowe (Everett McGill) does what he can to keep his congregation calm, but understandably the townsfolk are upset. Things get interesting when a paraplegic kid named Marty (Corey Haim) encounters a werewolf. He fires a bottle rocket into the beast’s eye and sends it away. Marty tells his Uncle Red (Gary Busey) what happened but of course, he doesn’t believe him. The only one who does is his sister Jane (Megan Follows)… but the town will find out that Marty is telling the truth soon enough.

    While the film’s modest budget shows through in the effects set pieces featured towards the end of the film but for the most part, Silver Bullet holds up pretty well. Like most of King’s work, it deals with family, with alcoholism and with the dark secrets of a small town – most of the common themes of his work from this era are apparent in the story. The film moves at a good pace, builds suspense well and features a strong score from Jay Chattaway that does a nice job of accentuating the tension, drama and horror inherent in the picture. Those werewolf effects though… they’re not great and never convincing. This does hurt the movie in its last twenty-minutes or so, but at the same time, fans of practical effects work will appreciate what went into these sequences even if they pale in comparison to other eighties werewolf films like An American Werewolf In London or The Howling.

    Performances, however, are pretty strong across the board. Director Daniel Attias gets the most out of a talented case. Terry O’Quinn, who is really a criminally underrated actor, is great as the cop tasked with trying to spot a stop to the rash of killings in his town. He’s convincingly tough enough but at the same time, handles the more dramatic side of his character just as well. Gary Busey as the hard-drinking Uncle Red is in fine form here, his on-screen relationship with Hiam and Follows giving the film a bit of welcome heart. Bill Smitrovich does a fine job as the disgruntled leader of the town mob while Big Ed himself, Everett McGill, steals pretty much every scene he’s in as Reverend Lowe.

    Silver Bullet – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory brings Silver Bullet to Blu-ray on a 50GB disc with the feature afforded roughly 28GBs of space framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This definitely trumps the old DVD release that came out via Paramount years back, though it appears to be taken from the same source as the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray that came out in Australia in 2018. If detail and texture aren’t reference quality, they’re certainly more than good. Color reproduction is fine, black levels are solid and noticeable print damage is minimal if not exactly non-existent. There’s decent depth here and the image is quite film-like, showing no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    An English language 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track handles is the only option provided for the feature but it gets the job done without any issues. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow and the score has good range and presence to it. There are no audible problems with any hiss or distortion to note. The audio here is just fine.

    The supplements that are exclusive to this release start out with an audio commentary featuring producer Martha De Laurentiis, moderated by Michael Felsher. She speaks here about connecting with King and bringing him on board, getting her start in the business, casting the picture, the location and effects work and plenty more. Felsher always does a great job as a moderator on the commentary tracks he’s involved with and he keeps her on point and engaged throughout.

    We the move on to the twelve-minute A Little Private Justice interview with actor Kent Broadhurst. HE speaks quite candidly about his part in the film and his character and details in an amusing fashion what was involved in his ‘grief’ sequence. He also talks about some of the effects set pieces in the film. Cutting To The Bone gets editor Daniel Loewenthal in front of the camera for seventeen-minutes to share some stories about how he got his start cutting adult movies before then moving on to more mainstream fare starting with Mother’s Day for Troma. He then talks about some of the other films he made and then about working on Silver Bullet, how he tried to enhance tension in a few scenes, the limitations of what he had to work with, and how the film performed when it finally hit the screen. Both of these are quite interesting and worth checking out.

    As to the archival interviews, we start with an audio commentary featuring director Daniel Attias moderated by Michael Felsher. It’s a genuinely interesting track with Attias going into quite a bit of detail about how he got into filmmaking, how this particular film came to be, King’s thoughts on the story and changes that were made to make Silver Bullet out of Cycle Of The Werewolf, locations and effects work and of course, what it was like directing various cast members involved in the shoot. Felsher keeps him engaged and there’s a lot of great information packed into this track. Shout! also carries over another alternate audio track that contains isolated score selections as well as an audio interview with composer Jay Chattaway, again moderated by Felsher. Here Chattaway gives us a quick rundown on his career, discussing some of his early projects and then later talking up his work on Silver Bullet, what he and his team did to try and make the score stand out, using actual howling wolf sound samples in the music to interesting effect and quite a bit more.

    The sixteen-minute The Wolf Within is an interview with actor Evertt McGill in which he talks about his character and the challenges that there were plahing him, his thoughts on Attias as a director and quite a bit more. Last but not least, Full Moon Fever, which runs twenty-one minutes, interviews SFX artists Michael McCracken Jr. and Matthew Mungle who talk about how they landed jobs on this production after Stan Winston recommended them (he passed on the film). They also talk about the difficulties that they encountered on set and their interactions with Attias.

    Rounding out the extras nicely are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a single TV spot, a single radio spot, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    The interview with Martha De Laurentis that was included on the Umbrella Blu-ray has not been ported over to this release, but the commentary covers that pretty well so it’s not such a big deal.

    Silver Bullet – The Final Word:

    Shout! Factory has done a really nice job bringing Silver Bullet to Blu-ray. The presentation is solid and the disc is loaded with some strong supplements that do a great job of documenting the film’s history. As to the movie itself, it holds up well as a really entertaining monster movie made with an interesting cast.

    Click on the images below for full sized Silver Bullet Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Ryan K's Avatar
      Ryan K -
      Nice inclusion of some "Spot the Coors" caps!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      I had to do it.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      I like this one, but yeah, those effects are low-budget takes on American Werewolf. Still, Busey and McGill make this flick for me. Can you imagine a universe where it's cool for a pre-teen kid to have a motorized wheelchair that can outrun a big-block Olds?