Combustible Celluloid
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With: Gary Busey, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Megan Follows, Robin Groves, Leon Russom, Terry O'Quinn, Bill Smitrovich, Joe Wright, Kent Broadhurst, Heather Simmons, James A. Baffico, Rebecca Fleming, Lawrence Tierney, William Newman
Written by: Stephen King, based on his own novel
Directed by: Daniel Attias
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 95
Date: 10/11/1985

Silver Bullet (1985)

3 Stars (out of 4)

King Me

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite having his stories turned into films by master directors Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma and David Cronenberg -- not to mention the classic status given to "The Shawshank Redemption" on the internet -- Stephen King doesn't seem to have the cinema credibility he should have.

Perhaps this is because of his enormous success and popularity, or because of his reputation for selling stories to second-rate films. I imagine Silver Bullet (1985) and Graveyard Shift (1990) have more than a little to do with this. But watching both films again on DVD from Paramount Home Video reveals a sly, sick sense of humor, even if unintentional.

In any case, I was unable to tear myself away from either of these films.

The werewolf movie Silver Bullet is by far the better of the two, thanks in part to great scenery-chewing by Gary Busey (he chews more than the werewolf does). The werewolf has been rampaging all over town, and though we can easily figure out who it is, the townspeople don't seem to be able to. A young boy in a wheelchair, played by Corey Haim, discovers a werewolf while shooting off some illegal fireworks his uncle Busey has given him. So when Haim shoots a firework into the wolf's eye, the jig is up. You have to see the movie if just for the high-powered wheelchair Busey builds for his nephew -- which of course leads to an obligatory chase scene. Lawrence Tierney has a good small role as a crusty old bartender who carries a baseball bat and Megan Follows co-stars as Haim's older sister and narrates the tale.

Graveyard Shift, on the other hand, is an astonishingly bad movie. It's bad in every respect; there's nothing it doesn't fail at. And yet, it's fascinating. A small town cotton mill is infested with rats and a group of hapless workers get the job of cleaning out the basement (at night, when it's cooler, of course). One giant rat monster keeps jumping out and eating people, and the boss of the place (who speaks with a bizarre accent) seems to be psychotic himself. Watch for the girl who sprains her ankle in one scene and walks fine in the next. Only Brad Dourif comes across unscathed, playing an exterminator with Vietnam flashbacks.

Neither disc comes with much in the way of extras, though the letterboxed transfer on Silver Bullet is most welcome.

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