AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and THE HOWLING are the first films to come to mind when one thinks of the greatest werewolf movies of the 1980s, and rightfully so. But SILVER BULLET, based on the Stephen King long-short story CYCLE OF THE WEREWOLF and released in 1985, is right up there near the top with them. Perhaps it isn’t as immediately obvious because its werewolf wasn’t quite as stunning as the beasts from those two aforementioned films. The fault actually lies with Stephen King. He wanted a “plainer” werewolf than was the norm in those days—he also wanted the audience to never really get a good look at the monster, so there is that—whereas those other two contenders had Rick Baker and Ron Bottin, respectively, to create their most memorable monsters. (The original director of SILVER BULLET, Don Coscarelli of the PHANTASM films, left the project in part due to his dissatisfaction with the monster design.)
Despite an inferior werewolf design, SILVER BULLET is an underrated gem of the genre. If by some chance you’ve never seen it, seek it out. While you can’t help imagining what Baker, Bottin, or Winston would have made of the monster, or what the actual FX guy, Carlo Rambaldi, might have achieved if left alone by King (Rambaldi had some serious chops of his own, having won Oscars for his work on ALIEN and E.T.), the movie succeeds as-is.