It doesn't get said often enough, but drunks sure know how to entertain. And I ain't talking about your just-released-from-prison uncle choosing your grandmother's funeral as the best time to test his fart-lighting abilities. No, I'm referring specifically to creative types, people whose gin-soaked brains translate the booze thoughts into bizarre, sometimes surreal art: be it the alcohol-induced otherworldly crime fiction of Jim Thompson or the creative construction of carnival rides by perpetually bombed carnies.
One thing I learned when I used to drink was that alcohol allowed my writing to go places it normally would never think of going (sure, my writing is sentient). Yes, most of it was shit, but every now and then a genius nugget would pop through. It was almost worth wading through the shitty writing just for those short bursts of uninhibited creativity. Of course, I never got the hang of drunk writing; I would fall asleep too soon after drinking. So, I admire the hell out of any writer who can produce during perpetual decades-long benders.
I don't know, maybe it's because my now sober self just gets a hell of a contact high from this shit, but I love to see the traces of alcoholism in drunken output. And it's always obvious when a writer novels under the influence: because writers always bring a little of themselves to their work, their writing will inevitably betray elements of their personal lives. So, whether they intend it or not, their stories give us front-row seats to their dependencies. And with few other writers was this truer than Stephen King.
More specifically, few other writers were more blunt about their addictions than King. Whereas a writer such as Jim Thompson would frequently go the surreal route, Stephen King just filled his stories with drunken degenerates. (Of course, Thompson also populated his stories with drunks, and King's stories—existing in the horror genre, as they did—frequently traveled to bizarre land.)
So, with this in mind, when I decided to check out the Stephen King-penned werewolf movie Silver Bullet, I knew I was gonna be in for a treat. And, lord, it did not disappoint.
I'm still trying to decide if Silver Bullet's frequent forays into silly territory were intentional or just incompetence spiced with a dash of drunken lunacy. Regardless of the cause, however, this might be the most entertaining flick I've seen all year. You want a taste? Here are sample bits of dialogue from the picture:
"It's your oven, but it ain't my bun you got baking."
"Suicides go to hell—especially if they're pregnant. And I don't even care."
"Damn cripples—always end up on welfare. Oughta electrocute 'em all."
But I should probably tell you a little bit about the movie itself. Filmed in 1985, Silver Bullet takes place in the ye olde long-forgotten era of the late seventies. And we know this because the teenage heroine of the picture, Jane, is now looking back on those days-gone-by and narrating the movie from the present. So why was a middle-aged sounding woman hired to narrate events that took place less than a decade prior? Also, why did the director tell her to recite her horror movie lines as if she was narrating Little Women?
But, anyway, trouble shows up when an old drunk meets a werewolf and the werewolf does this to the drunk's head.
But everyone in town assumes it was just because he was drunk. As old Jane says in the narration, "You see, Arnie Western was a chronic drunk, and what happened seemed like an accident." Yeah, drunks do this all the time. Just walking along, minding their own business, being all drunk and stuff, and, wouldn't you know it, they accidentally cut off their own heads.
So no one takes notice...until the werewolf strikes again, killing a pregnant woman who was about to take her own life (see quote above). And when the obviously animal-mauled body is discovered, everyone in town thinks a human must have caused the massacre. Of course. Tempers flare at the local bar, before Lawrence Tierney calms things down with his justice bat.
Elsewhere in the movie, Jane's brother Marty (Corey Haim) bonds with degenrate Uncle Gary Busey.
Stuff happens. More werewolf murders. Then Marty meets the werewolf and does this to it.
So Marty and Jane search for a newly one-eyed citizen, and then Jane happens to find...
So Marty sends him a letter.
And he reads it.
But no one will believe Marty and Jane's story. The priest tries to do away with Marty...
...chasing him toward an abandoned bridge.
Marty escapes. And, finally, the kids are able to convince Gary Busey, so he gets a silver bullet made for them.
Watching Silver Bullet, I realized—as I so often do, when watching trashy horror flicks—that I had seen pieces of this movie on TV when I was a kid. Back then I remember being scared of Busey, as any kid should; and I didn't pick up on any of the humor. I was mostly underwhelmed by the intended horror and creeped out by the hero Busey. I didn't much care for it. I've mentioned many times before that revisiting cherished childhood movies frequently leads to disappointment; Silver Bullet has shown me that revisiting movies I didn't previously like can lead to super happy good times.
With that I leave you with some things I learned from Silver Bullet:
- If someone is trying to stop a lynch mob, it's because he is in fact a werewolf. He must be lynched.
- If the town priest suddenly loses an eye, no one in town will ask him why he is suddenly missing an eye.
- Drunks will always save the day.