Silver Bullet (1985)

One from the re watch pile…

Silver Bullet (1985)

Film: I am an unadulterated fan of Stephen King films, but not of his books. It’s a strange quirk, I know, but I really like King’s ideas, but don’t like his actual writing style. I know that’s not a popular opinion, but I’d rather read writers like Shaun Hutson or Frank Herbert or Richard Laymon.

This movie is based on Stephen King’s novella The Cycle of the Werewolf which was originally published in 1983 with some beautiful illustrations by comic legend Bernie Wrightson, and King adds his skill to the script here but it has a massive amount of problems, insomuch that there’s a fair collection of lame jokes, cliche metaphors and just flat out clunky dialogue, most of which sounds like a 14 year old trying to impress a 6 year old, which is a shame because the story of a town under attack by some creature is a solid one.

This film was directed by Dan Attias, who has had a prolific career but mainly in TV and he has pretty much well worked on every big name series since the mid eighties.

Silver Bullet is narrated by Jane Coslaw (Megan Follows) whose paraplegic brother Marty (Corey Haim) believes that some mysterious murders that have taken place in the town are committed by a werewolf… but who IS the werewolf? After an encounter on a bridge, and a bit of Scooby Doo styled investigation, the kids, along with their Uncle Ned (Gary Busey) realise the werewolf is coming for them next and start to make preparations…

The movie is filmed a little like an after school TV show, and with the aforementioned hammy script, it comes across that way, but what salvages it is the appearance of some genre favourites like Terry O’Quinn, Everett McGill and Lawrence Tierney and then throw in some surprisingly low-budget gore and it turns into something a little better than that.

Speaking of low budget gore, the werewolf outfit is lacking in any kind of fear factor, and looks like Rupert the Bear with a tan, after six months at the gym. The de-transformation scene is pretty good, even though it seems like it’s just An American Werewolf in London’s amazing transformation scene… you know the one…. played in reverse.

It’s not that this is a completely BAD film, it’s just that if I am going to watch a werewolf film I have seen before, I am probably going to go for The Howling or American Werewolf instead. Sorry Silver Bullet.

Score: **1/2

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Picture, region B Bluray from Umbrella Entertainment which is presented in a decent 2.35:1 image with a clear and crisp 2.0 DTS-HD audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Soooooo many extras on this disc:

First we have a commentary with Director Daniel Attias hosted by Michael Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures, in which we celebrate the film and Attias’s career.

Dino’s Angel Takes On Lycanthropy: Martha De Laurentiis remembers Silver Bullet sees De Laurentiis reminisce on her experiences in Hollywood and on this film. She is delightful and has a great recollection of the time spent on her film career.

Isolated Score selections and audio interview with composer Jay Chattaway for a soundtrack fan is a pretty exciting way to watch the film. Like a director’s commentary, this feature brings the score to the forefront of the sound and has an associated commentary with Chattaway, hosted again by Michael Felsher. It’s an interesting look both at Chattaway’s career and choices made on this film.

The Wold Within: an Interview with Everett McGill sees McGill revisit his acting choices for the role he played in the film. Can I just say that some people get cooler with age, and McGill is one of those.

Full Moon Fever – interviews with special effects artists Michael McCracken Jr and Matthew Mungle looks at the effects and make-up for the film. They discuss their careers and then look at what they did for this film.

We then have a trailer, a tv spot, a radio spot and a… ugh…. image gallery. The image gallery is at least a 70-odd image, slideshow type with Chattaway’s score over the top.

Score: *****

WISIA: As I said in the main body of this review, there’s other werewolf films I’d rather watch, so probably not again.

Howl (2015) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Howl (2015)

Film: Unfortunately for werewolf movies, something happened in 1981 that spoilt it for every one before, and every one after. The definitive werewolf film, the one that every werewolf film from then on would be judged, and it’s a film you may have heard of…

An American Werewolf in London.

Practical effects that were nothing short of magical, a likeable cast and a clever, funny script with all sorts of odd characters and bad dreams make American Werewolf an unbeatable opponent, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing lots of werewolf films as they are my second favourite supernatural creature, (my first are flesh golems like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation) and if I were to pick a creature to become, it would definitely be one of them… I mean, I like meat and my back is already hairy enough!

This is one of those times that I have decided to give another werewolf film a go: director Paul Hyett previously directed The Seasoning House, and is also known for his make-up work on films like The Descent and Doomsday. In an interesting twist, the film is written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, both mainly know for work on children’s shows like Danger Mouse and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Interesting credentials for writers of a werewolf movie!

Joe (Ed Spleers), is a loveable loser/ train conductor forced to do overtime by his new jerk boss on a night time run it something awful happens, well, even more awful than having the job of being a train conductor on a train full of jerks.

The train stops suddenly from hitting a deer on the tracks and when the train driver (Sean Pertwee) goes to investigate, he disappears.

So it’s left to Joe, to assist a hostile group of train passengers, to safety, but it’s hard to lead them to any sort of sanctuary when they are being pursued by something in the woods… Something horrible and dangerous…

Ok, my introduction and the name of the film suggest the issue these people have: it’s werewolves.

The film is shot quite well, even occasionally having a Hammer look to it, and all the action scenes are tense and violent, and once the creature is revealed, it’s got this weirdly cool manitou vibe to it. My best attempt to describe it would be a mid transformation David from American Werewolf and Rawhead Rex.

There is one major problem with this film though, and it’s a core element of effective horror movies.

The characters.

It’s hard to have any sort of emotional investment in a bunch of jerks, and a milksop leading man, and even though I appreciated their performances, I just didn’t give a stuff if any of them died or not… In actual fact, I wanted them all TO die as quick as possible! Even after the usual section of potential victims revealing their vulnerabilities and secrets to each other, I just didn’t care enough about them for their deaths to even matter in the slightest.

The packaging of the film also does an unforgivable sin: I second bills a cast member whose name has some cache, even though they are barely in the film for ten minutes.

The film isn’t bad, not by any means, it just doesn’t stand out, unfortunately, as I pointed out, due to the fact there is already the perfect werewolf movie made. It does have some good elements, but I couldn’t get past the fact that the characters were all such horrible people.

Score: **

Format: The reviewed copy of Howl is the Australian region B bluray release and is presented in a crisp and clear 2.40:1 image with a DTS Master HD 5.1. Unfortunately this does reveal some of the CGI to be a little subpar.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a few trailers: October Gale, How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town, Electric Slide and Glassland. If that’s not enough extras for you than.. Well, tough, because that’s all there is!

Score: *

WISIA: Watch either American Werewolf in London or The Howling again, would be my suggestion!