In a rare coincidence, October 2020 happens to have two full moons (the second one occurring on Halloween itself). So it’s the perfect opportunity to look back on all the classic werewolf movies, one of which celebrates its 35th anniversary today.
Released on October 11, 1985, Silver Bullet was based on Stephen King’s novel “Cycle of the Werewolf” and remains something of a cult classic. So, in honor of its anniversary today, we thought it would be fitting to look at 35 fun facts about Silver Bullet, one for each year!
1 . Originally, Don Coscarelli of Phantasm fame was set to direct, but eventually left due to conflict and creative differences with Dino De Laurentiis.
2. There are many references to “The Beast of Gévaudan” (including the turning of the medallion into a bullet), one of the most famous werewolf stories, which was also the original of the silver bullet mythos.
3. King’s source novel originally began as just a calendar and reads more like a chronicle of short stories involving werewolf attacks than one consistent narrative.
4. Because of this, it remains King’s shortest novel (a record previously held by “Carrie”).
5. Much of the film was shot in Burgaw, NC, which would go on to be a filming location for I Know What You Did Last Summer and Under the Dome.
6. In the original draft of the screenplay, there werewolf was actually meant to speak.
7. The werewolf suit was the subject of much controversy behind the scenes. Production began before the suit was even made and Dino De Laurentiis was never happy with the final product.
8. Owen’s Bar, featured in the movie, was named after Stephen King’s son Owen, who was just a child at the time.
9. It was Stephen King who insisted that the werewolf be cloaked in shadow and not as visible or “monstrous” as other werewolf movies.
10. They spent months working on the design, using several different clay head models.
11. One of the biggest criticisms of the suit was that it looked more like a bear than a wolf.
12. The Wolfsbane, featured in the movie is an actual plant known as aconite. It’s quite toxic and is sometimes used in hunting.
13. Sheriff Haller was played by Terry O’Quinn of The Stepfather and Lost He would also go on to play Warden Lacy in the Stephen King-inspired Hulu series Castle Rock.
14. According to Gary Busey, he performed all of his own stunts.
15. Many of Busey’s lines were ad-libbed (with King’s blessing), as he felt a strong connection to his character.
16. There’s a brief reference to a cemetery called Harmony Hill, which is also part of King’s literary universe, and was featured in “’Salem’s Lot”.
17. Set in Tarker’s Mill, a fictional town in the Stephen King universe, which also makes an appearance in Under the Dome.
18. The exteriors of the church were shot as the real life Zion Methodist Church in Leland, NC, and it’s still open today.
19. During shooting, Corey Haim became good friends with Gary Busey’s son Jake.
20. Haim would go on to star in another Stephen King adaptation a year later, Stand by Me.
21. The scene where the werewolf breaks through the wall, Gary Busey’s fearful reaction was quite genuine, as they hadn’t rehearsed the scene.
22. Filming completed in December 1984, but it was discovered that there were several continuity errors in the fireworks scene. So they had to go back for reshoots in spring 1985, only the foliage looked quite different than it did in December, so only close-ups were able to be shot.
23. Technically it’s a period piece, as it was shot in 1984, released in 1985, but takes place in 1976.
24. Originally the werewolf was supposed to be played by a professional dancer in the suit, but De Laurentiis was so unhappy with the performance that Everett McGill wound up playing the werewolf in addition to Reverend Lowe in human form.
25. Silver Bullet remains the only movie that Daniel Attias ever directed. He would go on to have a very long and successful career (up to today) directing TV episodes for countless famous shows.
26. 1985 saw two Stephen King cinematic adaptations, this and Cat’s Eye.
27. Both movies marked the first time that King wrote the screenplay himself, adapting his own work. He had previously written a screenplay for The Shining, but his version was completely thrown out by Stanley Kubrick.
28. Cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi would go on to work with Stephen King again a year later with Maximum Overdrive, the only movie that King himself directed.
29. Part of the unofficial “cycle” of werewolf movies made/released during the early 1980’s. Other entries included The Howling, Full Moon High, The Company of Wolves, and An American Werewolf in London.
30. Many of the film’s shooting locations, particular the residential homes, were uprooted and moved in the 90’s to make room for a shopping center.
31. Unfortunately, Silver Bullet was considered a flop, grossing only $5.4 million domestically ($12 million worldwide) on a $7 million budget.
32. The underwhelming performance was blamed on poor marketing, particularly the poster design.
33. Despite its poor box office performance, Silver Bullet received generally positive reviews. Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars out of four, stating that it was entertaining, even though it was a “parody of King’s source novel”.
34. Silver Bullet was nominated for the 1988 Fantasporto Fantasy Film Award but lost to A Chinese Ghost Story.
35. This wouldn’t be the last time we see a werewolf in a Stephen King adaptation, as Pennywise took that form in 1990’s It.
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? Let us know in the comments!