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Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)


  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Jan 08, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD

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Silver Bullet: Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

Director

Daniel Attias

Release Date(s)

1985 (December 5, 2023)

Studio(s)

Paramount Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)

  • Film/Program Grade: B
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: A-

Silver Bullet (4K UHD)

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Review

Growing up in the 1980s, Stephen King was a mainstay if you were a horror fan. Few of his books drew you in quite as powerfully as Cycle of the Werewolf, a short novella featuring fantastic artwork by the late, great Bernie Wrightson. On the flipside there was Silver Bullet, the Dino De Laurentiis film adaptation. The story of a small town in which a werewolf is killing its citizens, leaving only a wheelchair-bound young boy, his sister, and his alcoholic uncle to stop it managed to earn cult status over time, but wasn’t well-received by critics initially.

In Silver Bullet, no one is safe from the clutches of the werewolf, including the young, the handicapped, and the pregnant, which to younger eyes made it more effective, and therefore more memorable. Unfortunately, the werewolf itself doesn’t hold up and it was criticized for looking more like a bear than a wolf. It’s also difficult to match the perfection achieved on The Howling and An American Werewolf in London only a few years prior.

On the other hand, the film’s human counterparts are likable and interesting by contrast. Corey Haim is a sweet young boy just trying to do the right thing in a world full of people standing over him, not to mention having to deal with a werewolf. Credit must also be given to Gary Busey, who gives one of the best performances in the film, bringing more substance to his role than just the manic energy he’s generally known for. And as always, Everett McGill kills it (literally) as a man of the cloth on the surface, but with something more sinister lurking underneath.

What’s also interesting about Silver Bullet is that it was among many Stephen King-based projects throughout the 1970s and 1980s that started out with a different director at the helm. Among them were John Carpenter (Firestarter) and George Romero (Pet Sematary), but in the case of Silver Bullet, Don Coscarelli, who was fresh off of The Beastmaster, left the project early on during development over creative differences. Newcomer Daniel Attais stepped in and took over, making it his own.

Silver Bullet is often seen as one of the more overlooked titles in the realm of Stephen King adaptations, mainly due to its lack of treatment on home video, getting not much more than a trailer as an extra when it hit DVD. In 2017, Umbrella Entertainment brought the film to Blu-ray with a few bonus materials in tow. Later that same year, Scream Factory finally gave it the stateside Collector’s Edition treatment, porting over most of the Umbrella extras and adding a few new ones as well.

Silver Bullet was shot by cinematographer Daniel Loewenthal on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Scream Factory debuts the film in a 2-Disc Ultra HD Collector’s Edition package with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, graded for High Dynamic Range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are included), and presented on a BD-100 disc. It’s a beautifully nuanced presentation with a healthy field of grain and solid bit rates that get the most out of each moment. The HDR grades boost the color and improve contrast, dramatically in most cases, particularly in the shadows where blacks are super deep. Daytime scenes also see improvement with good flesh tones and a richer palette. Everything is clean and stable from front to back. It’s a gorgeous presentation and a massive improvement over the previous Blu-ray.

Audio is included in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio (the same as the previous Blu-ray) with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s not a spacious experience, but it’s not exactly flat or narrow either. There’s prominent ambient activity heard throughout the forest at night with crickets chirping away in the background, as well strong dialogue reproduction and plenty of muscle for Jay Chattaway’s score. It’s also clean with no apparent damage leftover.

Silver Bullet on 4K UHD sits in a black amaray case alongside a 1080p Blu-ray (featuring the same new transfer) with an insert and slipcover that uses artwork from one of the film’s theatrical posters (there were several). The following extras are included on each disc:

DISC ONE (UHD)

  • Audio Commentary with Martha De Laurentiis, Moderated by Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Daniel Attias, Moderated by Michael Felsher
  • Isolated Score Selections & Interview with Jay Chattaway by Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Eric Vespe and Scott Wampler

DISC TWO (BD)

  • Audio Commentary with Martha De Laurentiis, Moderated by Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Daniel Attias, Moderated by Michael Felsher
  • Isolated Score Selections & Interview with Jay Chattaway by Michael Felsher
  • Audio Commentary with Eric Vespe and Scott Wampler
  • A Little Private Justice with Kent Broadhurst (HD – 11:51)
  • Cutting to the Bone with Daniel Loewenthal (HD – 16:39)
  • The Wolf Within with Everett McGill (HD – 16:15)
  • Full Moon Fever: The Effects of Silver Bullet (HD – 21:03)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD – 1:27)
  • TV Spot (SD – :31)
  • Radio Spot (HD – :39)
  • Still Gallery (HD – 71 in all – 6:20)

The audio commentary with Martha De Laurentiis essentially replaces the Dino’s Angel Takes on Lycanthropy: Martha De Laurentiis Remembers Silver Bullet interview from the Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray. Daniel Attias’ commentary goes over much of his involvement with the production, as well as his other film and TV work. The interview Jay Chattaway, which acts as a third audio commentary, offers insight into the film’s score. New to this release is an additional audio commentary with Eric Vespe and Scott Wampler of The Kingcast podcast. It’s much more of a fan commentary for the film, but they also talk about the original story and its origins, even if they go quiet a few too many times. In A Little Private Justice, actor Kent Broadhurst provides plenty of perspective on his brief time on the film. In Cutting to the Bone, editor Daniel Loewenthal speaks frankly about his work on the film and his disappointment at not making more films with Daniel Attias. In The Wolf Within, actor Everett McGill reveals his issues with the film, but is also grateful for the fans of it. In Full Moon Fever, special effects artists Michael McCracken, Jr. and Matthew Mungle tell some great behind-the-scenes stories. The trailer appears to be from a new HD scan, and not the reconstructed version found on both the original Scream Factory and Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray releases. The animated Still Gallery features 71 photos of behind-the-scenes moments, promotional stills, lobby cards, and posters. It’s worth noting that an older audio commentary with Daniel Attias exists on several overseas DVD and Blu-ray releases, including Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray, but hasn’t carried over.

Like many horror films of the 1980s, Silver Bullet has its fans who continue to adore it almost forty years after its initial release. Thanks to repeated cable viewings and numerous VHS rentals, it grew on many folks who were initially skeptical about it. Scream Factory’s 4K UHD tops their previous Blu-ray with a superior A/V presentation and a very nice extras package. Highly recommended to horror fans.

– Tim Salmons

(You can follow Tim on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel here.)

 





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