Wolfen (1981)

R  |   |  Horror, Thriller  |  24 July 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 6,377 users  
Reviews: 89 user | 85 critic

A New York cop investigates a series of brutal deaths that resemble animal attacks.



(based on the novel by), (screen story), 4 more credits »
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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dehl Berti ...
Sam Gray ...
Ralph Bell ...
Max M. Brown ...
Anne Marie Pohtamo ...
Sarah Felder ...
Morgue Attendant (as Reginald Vel Johnson)


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 <rcs@texas.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It will tear the scream from your throat. See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A farkas  »

Box Office


$17,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (MegaSound encoding) (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was delayed because the effects for the Wolfen were unusable and the filmmakers had to hire another effects company to handle them. See more »


Moments before the first murder, the killers stalk their victim (using the "night vision" effect) and pass behind a parked car, revealing the reflection of a bright sunny day in the rear hood of the car when it is supposedly taking place at night. See more »


[Eddie and Dewey are up on the top of a bridgeworks]
Eddie Holt: Shape shifting. We do it for kicks. Turn yourself into a different animal. One night a deer, next night a salmon...
Dewey Wilson: Or a wolf?
Eddie Holt: Sure.
[Eddie unhooks Dewey's safety line]
Eddie Holt: Or an eagle.
[Dewey looks down, a long way... ]
Eddie Holt: C'mon Dewey, just flap your arms and jump, its easy. It's all in the head.
Dewey Wilson: That would be murder. You wouldn't kill anyone else, would you?
Eddie Holt: That's what they pay you to find out...
See more »


Referenced in Supernatural: All Dogs Go to Heaven (2010) See more »


Jitterbug Boy
Written by Tom Waits
Performed by Tom Waits
See more »

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User Reviews

different enough and occasionally startling
23 June 2015 | by (Greenwich - London) – See all my reviews

Unusual film that takes a very different path from the traditional werewolf movie. Low budget in feel, which is good, this starts incredibly well with horror, gore and bewilderment. The use of the negative image when we see through the eyes of the wolves is great, its less plastic than ordinary SFX and far more realistic than CGI, its also cheap (I've used it myself!) but the best thing about it is that it is literally an inversion of reality, which is just what you want here. Finney is fine but maybe should have been encouraged to put a little more effort in. As for his co-star, Diane Venora, in her first film, her lack of presence is worrying. I guess first time director (apart from Woodstock work) Michael Wadleigh was not used to getting the best out of his actors and indeed never made another film. Not to take away from this little gem though, not perfect by any means but different enough and occasionally startling enough to make at least one viewing essential.

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