To the considerably ‘normal’ people of the world, August is far from the appropriate calendar month to display pumpkins, skulls, and bats. The horror community may poke fun at itself for a preemptive celebration of our branded holiday, but what many are not aware of is the slight lunar change that is occurring directly above us causing a true shift in the seasons.
At Nightmare on Film Street, August is the month dedicated to one of horror’s most fulfilling creators, Stephen King. As I thought about the man that has influenced so much of my own personal horror appreciation and this symbolic period of change, everything seemed to fall into perfect alignment. It’s hard to ignore such a serendipitous reflection as one of his greatest stories loudly howled from the nostalgic corner of my mind… and bookshelf.
Silver Bullet, Dan Attias’ adaptation based on King’s short novel Cycle of The Werewolf, should not only be recognized during a month commemorating his work, but celebrated along with the appearance of the relevant moon that gives it life.
Silver Bullet was the initial experience that began my beloved, ongoing affair with Stephen King. As a young girl, I frequented my great grandparents’ home adorned with marble statues they acquired from their life in Italy. The immaculate heart, the blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus crucified, soldiers, the David, multiple naked figures, angels, and cupids stood proudly in every open corner of their modest house. I was recently reminded of the one statue that captivated me the most, depicting a large wolf with two babies on the ground suckling at her teats. It was so odd and visceral, the statue of Romulus and Remus. I obsessed over it until my great grandfather had no choice but to share the story of Roman lore.
These two human twin brothers were abandoned at birth and raised by a shepherd and his wife, the woman symbolized by the she-wolf. When the two had grown, they argued over the power of the gods, resulting in Remus’ death at the hands of Romulus. Sibling rivalry, as well as war and peace, act as major themes within this myth, just as the story between the main characters of Silver Bullet.
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My attraction to wolves, and subsequently the werewolf, evolved forcing my mother to feed my love for horror with gateway films. While I know exactly what she started with, I do know my hunger was strengthened with Silver Bullet (thankfully my father got a kick out of Gary Busey). Thus, my allegiance to King began and a very happy, fortunate alignment with this tribute begins.
Look At The Moon
In order to fully appreciate this brilliant alignment, one must be a little more familiar with what this lunar cycle is really all about. August is exclusively born out of harvest beginnings, the time to observe new beginnings cultivated in physical and spiritual nourishment just as the full Sturgeon Moon enters the sign of Aquarius. The sturgeon itself is an enormous freshwater fish found in the lakes and rivers of North America. It’s a being far from that of Silver Bullet’s werewolf, I am aware. The name of the fish is given to this moon as the water from which this vessel lives equates with washing away the past and moving forward with a brand new start. It’s a strong fish that can live well over 100 years, encouraging vitality and liberation.
Red and hazy in appearance, August’s moon coincidentally reflects the color of a werewolf’s sustaining power: blood. Many Native American tribes refer to this moon phase as a period of “community building, rekindling friendships, reconciliation, purification, restoring balance, making new beginnings, and giving praise and thanksgiving to God.” Being that Aquarius is the astrological sign that not only emphasizes uniqueness and individuality, it’s perfectly acceptable to relate comfort in one’s own skin with this particular lunar cycle and film alike. Any tale regarding a werewolf is going to pair well with the given moon phase it may fall under. However, it’s not every cycle that the two share so many major elements in common. Like the story of Silver Bullet, this full moon ultimately revolves around survival and emotional freedom.
Narrated by Jane Coslaw (played by Megan Follows), Silver Bullet focuses on her younger brother, Marty (played by Corey Haim), and the series of mysteriously grisly murders plaguing the quaint town of Tarker’s Mills, Maine. The film progresses through the calendar year, beginning in the early spring and ending at the start of autumn in 1976; making August’s atmosphere a perfect time to revisit this werewolf classic.
Marty, confined to a wheelchair, constantly seeks freedom from his disability. His physical dependency on those around him is not only a source of frustration and stigmatization, but also a troublesome weakness when it comes to facing the beast that is terrorizing the community. As Marty grows suspicious of the murders and the timing at which they occur, he makes the obvious connections and identifies the suspect that is responsible for the slayings. A werewolf has begun a feeding cycle, hiding in plain sight as one of Tarker’s Mills’ most trusted figures.
The werewolf’s transformation throughout Silver Bullet follows the Sturgeon Moon’s path of newness and survival. The overarching coming-of-age theme, one King frequently utilizes and masters, develops with maturity and instinct between both Jane and Marty as well as their lovable, but crass Uncle Red, played by Gary Busey (Point Break). The relationship between Marty and Jane is tense and antagonistic at first. However, through their battle with the werewolf and their unstoppable love for one another, the two siblings are able to move forward together with a clean slate of reconciliation and appreciation. The predator that metaphorically sheds its skin leads these two adolescents to find comfort in their own and overcome the feud that has kept them at odds.
The end of Silver Bullet runs parallel with the sign of Aquarius and the symbol of the sturgeon as it yields fresh start for both Jane; as a woman and sister, and Marty; as he accepts his uniqueness and vitality, despite his disability. Both set aside their past differences and expel their separate fears, resentments, and angers – striking hard through the meaning behind the Sturgeon Moon. War is waged, between the siblings and theirs with the beast, until peace is achieved using their silver charms melted into a singular bullet. Like those ancient tribal notions, order is restored to Tarker’s Mills, the community is brought together to rebuild in peace, the beast is literally purified, and new beginnings are promised.
If you’re not familiar with Silver Bullet, be sure to catch it before the next full moon shines down on us. If your lunar transformation in Aquarius includes a snout, fur, fangs, and hind legs, now is the perfect time to blame it on the moon! If you need a stronger correlation as a reason to watch Silver Bullet under this specific moon keep in mind that those located south of the equator know August’s full moon as the ‘Wolf Moon’ and the ‘Hunger Moon’. Need I say more?
Howl do you like that for a perfect alignment?
What are your thoughts on Stephen King’s Silver Bullet? Have you read Cycle of the Werewolf? What do you think of this Sturgeon Moon comparison? Let us know your thoughts over on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!