Silver Bullet is the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Cycle of the Werewolf. It was released in 1985 and stars the late Corey Haim as Marty Coslaw and Gary Busey as Uncle Red. The film is directed by Dan Attias and produced by Dino De Laurentiis.
Jane Coslaw, the narrator of the film, is the oldest child in a dysfunctional family of four. Her narration starts in the spring of 1976 and centers on her strained relationship with her younger, paraplegic brother, Marty, and their parents, Nan and Bob. Their rocky relationship changes after a series of murders in their small, rural town of Tarker's Mill, Maine. The murders take place every full moon through the course of the year. The children conduct their own investigation and eventually come to conclude that the killer is a werewolf and Reverend Lester Lowe is the Lycanthrope. The movie's climax takes place on Halloween when the Reverend Lowe/Lycanthrope comes after Jane and Marty at their house. With the assistance of their uncle Red, a silver bullet and a Smith & Wesson 44 Magnum revolver, the monster is destroyed.
- Gary Busey as Uncle Red
- Everett McGill as Reverend Lester Lowe
- Corey Haim as Marty Coslaw
- Megan Follows as Jane Coslaw
- Terry O'Quinn as Sheriff Joe Haller
- Bill Smitrovich as Andy Fairton
- Lawrence Tierney as Owen Knopfler
- Kent Broadhurst as Herb Kincaid, Brady's father
- James Gammon as Arnie Westrum
- Wendy Walker as Stella Randolph
- James A. Baffico as Milt Sturmfuller
- Tovah Feldshuh as Older Jane (voice)
Character omissions and alterations
Several characters in the novella had their names changed for the film: Jane Coslaw was named Kate in the novella; Bob Coslaw was named Herman; Uncle Red was Uncle Al; Sheriff Haller was a constable in the novella named Lander Neary. Additionally in the novella there was a character named Alfie Knopfler who owned the only diner in the town. In the film the Knopfler character was changed to the owner of the town's only bar as more action took place in the bar than in the diner and the character was deemed too important to cut or diminish. His first name was changed to Owen and the name of the bar was Owen's Bar. This was done in reference to King's son Owen King.
Additionally, two characters are omitted from the film: The Drifter and Clyde Corliss.
Some elements of the story are changed from the novella:
- Main amongst them is the fact that in the novella the murders start in January and end in December, spanning almost a full year. In the film, the murders start in the Spring and end on Halloween.
- Additionally, the murders in the novel each coincide with a specific holiday that month i.e. New Years Day, St. Valentines Day, April Fool's Day, etc. No such importance is given to the murders in the film.
- Arnie Westrum is killed in the Spring of 1976, presumably May (Jane's voice-over mentions that school is about to let out). In the novella he is killed on New Years Day.
- Stella Randolph is killed by the werewolf in order to prevent her from committing suicide. In the novella the character is a virginal seamstress who seems to be suffering from delusions. She sees the werewolf watching her from outside her window on Valentines Day and lets it in, imagining that it is her secret lover come to visit her. The werewolf promptly pounces on her and kills her in her bed.
- In between Stella and Brady Kincaid's deaths, in the novella a drifter is killed in March while passing through Tarker's Mill. Wolf prints are found near his corpse. His death is completely omitted from the film.
- In between Brady and Owen Knopfler/the vigilantes' deaths, Clyde Corliss, a janitor at Reverend Lowe's church, is found disemboweled on the church's altar. His death is completely omitted from the film.
- As stated above, Owen Knopfler is named Alfie Knopfler in the novella. He owns and runs the town diner, and is killed after High School Graduation in June in his diner. He sees a patron (later revealed to be Reverend Lowe) transform into the werewolf in front of him before he’s killed.
- In the film a vigilante mob goes after the then-unknown killer in the woods. In the novella, there is reference to a vigilante group heading out to the woods, but Reverend Lowe drives to Portland, Maine in order to avoid them (and instead runs into Milt Sturmfuller).
- While Sheriff Haller is killed confronting Reverend Lowe in his garage, Constable Neary is killed in August while drinking in his parked truck. He has his face ripped off by the werewolf and is devoured shortly afterwards (similarly to the vigilante who has his face ripped off in the woods in the film).
- Milt Sturmfuller in the film is killed while investigating strange noises in his shed. In the novella, it is revealed that Strumfuller is a wife-beater (a point that is merely implied in the film). He leaves for Portland, Maine in December to meet his mistress and is confronted by the werewolf, who decapitates him. Unlike the film, in the novella Sturmfuller is not considered to be one of the murder victims by the town since he was killed in another vicinity.
- Uncle Red (Gary Busey) uses a 4" Smith & Wesson Model 629 revolver in the climax of the film. This revolver is later used by Marty Coslaw (Corey Haim). In the movie this gun is loaded with one silver bullet. In the book Marty uses a Colt Woodsman in 38 Special. The Woodsman was strictly a 22 pistol, but such technical errors are common in King's writing when it comes to firearms.
- Elmer Zinneman inadvertently saves Marty from Reverend Lowe in the film when Marty calls out to him while trapped in the covered bridge. In the novella Zinneman is a local farmer who hears a commotion on his farm one night and decides to investigate with his rifle. He hears a bloodcurdling wolf howl and cowers in his house with his wife. The following morning he finds that his pigs have been slaughtered, with wolf tracks all around the pen. His brother-in-law tells him that it's obvious that a werewolf was responsible, and that the residents of Tarker's Mill are in denial because he lives two counties over and they all know what it is.
- On Halloween, Red, Marty and Jane confront the werewolf. In the novella, Marty goes trick-or-treating on Halloween in search of the werewolf's identity and is shocked when he sees Reverend Lowe wearing an eyepatch (it is explained that the Coslaws are devout Catholics and that Lowe is a Baptist; as a result Marty never runs into Lowe until nearly 4 months later since they worship at different churches).
- In the film, Marty shoots out the werewolf's eye with a firework in October, when the town fair and fireworks are canceled. In the novella, the maiming occurs on Independence Day.
- In the film, Reverend Lowe knows that it was Marty who injured him in his werewolf form. In the novella, Lowe does not remember what happens when he transforms; all he knows is that he wakes up the following morning with scratches and bruises on his body, and with crusted blood on his lips and fingernails. As a result, when Marty injures him (in werewolf form), he awakens the following morning with his eye blown out but with no recollection about how it occurred.
- Marty sends Reverend Lowe anonymous letters indicating that he knows who and what he is, and that he should commit suicide in order to stop killing people. In the film, despite the anonymous nature of the letters, Lowe knows that Marty is responsible; in the novella, Lowe decides to go into town and listen to gossip in order to find out who was attacked on July 4 (the day his eye was blown out). Marty signs the last letter with his name, letting Lowe know who was responsible for his maiming.
- In the novella, Reverend Lowe believes he became a werewolf after taking some flowers from a cemetery on Sunshine Hill that turned black and quickly died. In the movie, it's unknown how he became a werewolf.