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A city cop is assigned to solve a bizarre set of violent murders where it appears that the victoms were killed by animals. In his pursuit he learns of an Indian legend about wolf spirits. Written by
K. Rose <email@example.com>
Production on the film began in October 1979 and the production was halted in Febuary 1980 due to budget concerns as well as the dailies. See more »
When the doctor is riding his motorbike through the tunnel and spots the wolf, he is mouthing "Help me," repeatedly, but we don't hear his voice. At the end, he says, "Oh my god," but is still mouthing, "Help me." See more »
The vicious, bloody homicide of a prominent businessman, his wife, and bodyguard in New York's Battery Park brings shaggy detective Dewey Wilson out to investigate. The three victims were partially dismembered, and forensics finds non-human evidence on the bodies and body parts. From that captivating start, Michael Wadleigh's 1981 mystery-thriller, "Wolfen," holds viewer interest throughout. Other corpses surface during the course of the investigation, and, mysteriously, while some body parts seem to have been gnawed or eaten, diseased or cancerous organs were rejected. While rarely straying off course, this engrossing film adds a dose of Native American mysticism and lore to unraveling the series of murders. Although Wilson is not a particularly demanding role, Albert Finney brings a weary depth of character that enhances what could have been a stock character. Diane Venora is adequate as Rebecca Neff, Wilson's co-worker and love interest, but Gregory Hines is excellent as the forensics expert, and Tom Noonan brightens his few scenes as a wolf enthusiast.
Based on a novel by Whitley Strieber, Wadleigh, who also co-wrote the script with David Eyre, alludes to the killers' identity, but wisely keeps them off screen throughout most of the film. When only a pair of evil red eyes peer through the darkness, the imagination creates the horror. The killings and victims are subjectively seen through the killers's eyes with cinematographer Gerry Fisher's striking use of thermographic images, which add a surreal element. However, Fisher's non-thermographic photography is equally beautiful and turns the empty shells of churches and apartment buildings in the South Bronx into an otherworldly landscape consistent with the supernatural aspects of the story.
Unfortunately, the eerie buildup and savagery of the murders create expectations that the final revelation cannot meet. However, despite a climax that brings the story to a soft-landing, "Wolfen" delivers for most of its running time. With a fine understated performance by Finney, evocative photography by Fisher, and a taut script by Wadleigh and Eyre, "Wolfen" is a gem from the early 1980's that deserves to be rediscovered.
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