When I was a kid, I loved to look through the copy of Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf at Waldenbooks in the mall. I was too afraid to read the book (and too afraid to purchase a copy--my parents wouldn't like it), but I loved the color illustrations inside, which now remind me of early horror comics--grotesque and colorful and graphically violent, images from the legendary Bernie Wrightson. Just looking at the pictures, I created my own "version" of what the story must've been about.
When the film came out, renamed Silver Bullet, I was too young to go to the theater (why they renamed it I will never understand--Cycle of the Werewolf is a much creepier title) and I had never heard of Corey Haim before (I would develop a huge crush later--I totally wanted to paste a picture of him inside my locker at the Junior High).
Years later, I would see various snippets of the film here and there on cable television, but I never saw the whole thing until a few weeks ago.
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. To me, it seemed like a horror film for a young adult audience, primarily because of the focus on Marty (Corey Haim) and Jane (Megan Follows), who is also the narrator, reminiscent of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. I really enjoyed how the film maintains a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mystery vibe while remaining a true werewolf horror film at the same time. It would have been perfect for twelve-year-old me to see when it first came out.
Corey Haim does a great job as the boy hero, and his relationship with his uncle is the heart of the film. I feel like, in some ways, the climax is very simple and straightforward, but this is also why it works.
My favorite part is the way Corey Haim's character Marty wounds the werewolf with a firecracker in the eye, so the boy and his sister know to go looking for someone with a wounded eye--this leads to a very suspenseful and creepy scene when the sister Jane discovers the true identity of the werewolf.
The film accomplishes that rare combination of a childhood story (with a melancholy memoir vibe) that also functions as a genuine horror story--in other words, a horror story from a young person's perspective, which for me makes the campy elements work (like the special effects and some over-the-top performances). One of my favorite Stephen King films, adapted for the screen by the King himself.
Here is a far superior tribute to Silver Bullet at Kindertrauma: click here!