“He told me something that was unbelievable, and yet somehow, I believed most of it. And I understood one thing with total clarity: Marty himself, believed it all.”
Silver Bullet was a tale of an 11-year old boy confined to a wheelchair that as fate would have it, became enemy number one to a werewolf stalking the tiny town of Tarkers Mills in 1976. Little Marty Coslaw (Corey Haim) and his alcoholic Uncle Red (Gary Busey) get most of the attention, but the true hero of the film adapted from Stephen King’s novella Cycle of the Werewolf was Marty’s older sister, Jane (Megan Follows).
Thirty-two years after its release, it’s time to celebrate the unheralded heroine of, to this writer’s thinking, the greatest werewolf movie ever made.
Through the bulk of the film, Jane was openly resentful of Marty. Not so much for who he was, but that he was, as Jane clearly stated in narration as an older version (Tovah Feldshuh) of herself, “constantly thrown in her face” by her parents.
Taunts of “Look out world, Marty didn’t get what he wanted” when fear of the murders led to a cancellation of a fireworks display, to say nothing of jabs about her brother’s close-knit relationship with his uncle, who had a penchant for drinking and divorce.
Throughout, Jane never wanted to relinquish the upper hand, but at certain points, the bond she shared with Marty was abundantly evident.
After her brother’s friend tossed a garter snake in her direction at a town gathering that caused Jane to plunge into a muddy puddle and ruin her outfit, for instance. That night, Marty wheeled into her room to place money on her nightstand to replace her destroyed pantyhose. She was not asleep as he’d hoped, but clearly touched by the gesture, she apologized for her remark about Red.
The adversarial nature of their sibling rivalry powered on, however, until Marty set off the ill-advised fireworks his uncle had given him in secret to score one for the good guys. The boy didn’t know what to do after coming face-to-face with the beast because Red was hungover and didn’t believe him, but Jane’s faith came shining through from that moment forward.
She immediately ventured out to find someone with only one eye (veiled as a collection of bottles and cans for a local charity) without hesitation, and mailed letters to Reverend Lester Lowe communicating that his identity was known with a request he take his own life to spare the town further bloodshed.
But we’re not allowed to forget that the siblings were going to need the help of an adult if they had any plans to survive their ordeal. And while you consider that, think about this: it wasn’t Marty who brought Uncle Red on board for that purpose, but Jane.
When the pair finally revealed what they’d been up to and found themselves on the receiving end of a verbal lashing from Red, it was Jane who did not hesitate to call her uncle out for questioning their account. She even went so far as to invite Red to drive over to the church so she could show him evidence that it was all true.
When Red questioned how a man could take a rocket in the eye two nights previous, then go about his business as though nothing had happened, Jane shot back “I believe in Marty. You used to believe in him, too.”
It was a statement that locked home after Marty shared that the reverend tried to run him off the road. As Uncle Red inspected the Silver Bullet, the motorized wheelchair he’d assembled for his nephew, he noticed a dent in the fender and a subtle streak of paint.
“Jane…? What color is Lowe’s car?”
The elder Coslaw thought for a moment and responded, “Blue.” Glancing at the dent, her face intensified as she pointed, “This blue.”
Once Jane and her brother had their uncle convinced, they sat up waiting for the inevitable full moon visit, silver bullet in hand.
When the moment came, her brother sprawled on the floor trying to recover their one hope from a vent in the floor, her uncle wrestling with a werewolf, it was Jane who screamed “Leave him alone!” buying just enough time for them to bring their nightmare to an end.
If not for Jane’s strength and unwavering belief in her brother, the help they so desperately needed from their uncle would have never fallen into place, and as a result, her brother would not have lived to tell his tale. A sentiment we should keep at the forefront of our collective thinking each time we lay eyes on Silver Bullet from here on out. Not only for Follows’ brilliant performance, but the amazing character she was given to portray.
“I wasn’t always able to say that, but I can say it now. I love you too, Marty. Good night.”