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Silver Bullet – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Stephen King properties are hot again to adapt to films, but nothing will probably ever compete with 1980s output for both theaters and television. There were many upon many of his works being adapted. Some good, some bad, but all in all an exciting time to be a horror fan or fan of the author’s work. One of my personal favorites from this era, is the often overlooked Silver Bullet from 1985. So overlooked that its 2019 and it is finally being released on Blu-ray in the United States. It just finally made its debut on the format a year ago in Australia. And good news, the new features for that release have been ported over here. Here to this Scream Factory Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. So far, the Paramount horror vault opening has been wonderful. And you’ll be able to own this wonderful Blu-ray Collector’s Edition from Scream Factory when it arrives on December 17th, just in time before that holiday full moon of your choosing to celebrate. Gary Busey wants you to know that the Amazon link at the end of this review is a paid link, and always appreciated when you use it.

Film

A peaceful town is suddenly terrorized by a maniacal killer. The townsfolk think a madman is on the loose, but a wheelchair-bound 13-year-old (Corey Haim, The Lost Boys) knows the truth … a werewolf is on the hunt. With the help of his Uncle Red (Gary Busey, Bulletproof), young Marty Coslaw sets out to stop the half-man/half-beast before he sinks his teeth into another innocent victim. Now, time is ticking … and the full moon is about to rise.

Silver Bullet may go down with its faithful as one of the best Stephen King movies. One of the best ever werewolf movies. One of the best Gary Busey movies(?). Corey Haim(?). Okay, okay, the one I want to add here is that for me, it is one of the best Non-Amblin Amblin movies of the 1980s. This was a Dino De Laurentis production, so no Spielberg was near this thing. But it has the sort of hallmarks on display in those films. More importantly, it manages to capture that “feeling” that people love about them. A lot of that may have to do with beautiful score that kind of gets overlooked with talking about the movie. However, with this Amblin-type film, a vicious, bloody werewolf comes to town and really messes up a small town.

There a care of character going on in Silver Bullet that I appreciate in terms of Everett McGill’s “Reverend Lowe” that under the care or hands of another actor or crew may have not been as effective as it is. I’ve not read the source material, coming from Stephen King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf so as to know if this praise comes from there and a straight adaptation or not. I can only speak of the film. While McGill is clearly the film’s antagonist (Hell, he’s the damn werewolf), there’s plenty of depth to the character that lends it to being iconic once you’ve finished the film. Not all of it is on paper, either. McGill is a truly underutilized performer (Most know him merely from Twin Peaks, and I’ll throw a “Long live the fighters!” shout out to you Dune lovers out there) and not only exudes menace, but he showcases true sense of who this character in even the most unspoken moments in the film. And in more simple terms, the priest look with the eyepatch is pretty badass for those of you “wears a mask as character depth” type folk out there.

McGill’s werewolf has a pretty cool transformation here and the wolf itself is both awesome and sort of costume-ish at the same time. Overall, Carlo Rambaldi’s design is a success as it truly gets lit, shot and cut to maximum effect. And the effects here about pretty gross and pretty 80s practical rad at the same time. There are some truly gruesome and haunting kills and post-kill make-up effects from start to finish of the movie (It starts off with a damn decapitation less than 5 minutes in) and I included one in my screencaps just to have a gruesome horrific “awe” at.

When it comes to werewolf movies, and probably ones you’ve never seen, Silver Bullet should hit the top of the list. It has a unique cast of characters played by a lot of interesting faces (Busey, Haim, McGill, Terry O’Quinn) and features some great practical effect work to support them. Toss in some killer dream sequences and a beautiful score and you have yourself a treat. And not to poke at, but there are some goofy Mac & Me-like moments that come with Haim’s character but I won’t harp. If you’re familiar you’re familiar. Anyway, check out Silver Bullet already. You’re a few decades late!

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Silver Bullet’s Collector’s Edition release from Scream Factory doesn’t list any details regarding the transfer used here for the disc. I would assume this is the same one for the Umbrella Entertainment release last year. I popped my copy of that disc in to compare and they looked pretty comparable with standout differences. Its a pretty solid looking image, a little soft, but I think pretty good given what I assume isn’t the strongest source without an expensive restoration Paramount probably isn’t gonna front the bill for. Details run pretty strong with good color saturation and nice, haunting blacks.

Depth: Foreground and background relations are pretty standard and above average here. Nothing to rock your world but it helps paint a strong enough image. Movements are cinematic and natural with no distortion issues to report.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and carry a bit more grain in its darker, shadowy areas. It doesn’t eat up any detail that wasn’t intended to be masked. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This isn’t a movie with a lot of popping colors despite being in the heart of the 80s. Its a pretty plain jane look as this is a regular ol small town. Those natural colors do come pretty bold and the blood plays a nice contrast to them and does stand out easily in the frame.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and texture looks best in a close up but does well in plenty of medium range shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Silver Bullet features a lovely mono mix that, like the transfer, I’m guessing comes from the same source as the Umbrella release last year. That’s a win, as this thing really gets the impact of the horror, with a nice balanced blend of vocals, effects and score. It pushes each to great effect with nice depth and layering. I do particular think the score is captured and presented here quite beautifully, easily bouncing back between orchestra and synth.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and plenty audible and active in the mix, with good clarity.

Extras

Silver Bullet – Collector’s Edition comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With producer Martha De Laurentiis
  • With director Daniel Attias

Isolated Score Selections and audio interview with composer Jay Chattaway

A Little Private Justice (HD, 11:51) – An interview with actor Kent Broadhurst. The actor discusses his role, his motivation for having relation to the son, the craziness of filming the werewolves in the church sequence (There was a contact issue, “That was quite an evening”). He’s a pretty gentle speaker, but has a fond, kind memory about it (“I went with some friends with it, we were all kinda please…I felt pretty good about, I was glad I had taken the role.”)

Cutting to the Bone (HD, 16:39) – An interview with editor Daniel Loewenthal. “Silver Bullet was a big deal for me…it probably saved my career”. The editor discusses his start and what led him to doing Silver Bullet, wherein he cut porn, worked on Mother’s Day and in an awesome connection, got hooked up with Joseph Zito and wound up editing Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. “In the pantheon of great werewolf movies, Silver Bullet is number 4.” He notes that he directed a transformation scene and that Terry O’Quinn wasn’t too pleased about it. There’s also a tale of how Dino De Laurentis wasn’t pleased with the werewolf first and brought a zoologist on set to decipher whether it was possible or not.

The Wolf Within (HD, 16:15) – An interview with actor Everett McGill. This is the same Red Shirt Pictures interview that appeared on the 2018 Umbrella Entertainment Australian Blu-ray release. Its a very good one as Red Shirt is known for, and is a welcome piece of carry over material from that edition.

Full Moon Fever: The Effects of Silver Bullet (HD, 21:03) – An interview with special effects artists Matthew Mungle and Michael McCracken. Another port over from the Australian Blu-ray, this one is a very fun look back at the making of the movie from the effects point of view as both interviewees are seated together, bounce off one another well. They also aren’t afraid of being honest or poking some good fun with the movie. Plus, they met on ICE PIRATES!

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:27) 

TV Spot (SD, :31) – “Starts Friday at a theater near you! Consult local listings.”

Radio Spot (HD, :39)

Still Gallery (HD, 6:20)

Summary

Silver Bullet continues to have a place in my heart as one of my favorite werewolf movies of all time (#1 is Ginger Snaps in case you were wondering). Scream Factory has given this a rock solid Blu-ray debut in the United States with a solid transfer (Likely the same as the Umbrella Entertainment release) and terrific audio presentation. The new extras beef up the set nicely. If you’re a physical media collector and like Silver Bullet, you’ll wanna grab this up. It took it this long to get to Blu-ray…this could be it.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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