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J. Lee Thompson
Melissa Sue Anderson,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was the first movie to use a thermographic visual photographic look to represent the point-of-view of a character, in this case, the wolfen. The type of effect shot has been used in a number of movies to show the POV of a character, usually villainous, like a beast. One notable example of the popularizing of this kind of visual effects perspective is its use in the "Predator" film franchise. 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 smartest ones, they went underground into a new wilderness, YOUR CITIES. You have your technology but you lost. You lost your senses
In their world, there can be no lies, no crimes.
No need for detectives.
In their eyes, YOU ARE THE SAVAGE.
See more »
Wolfen is an offbeat horror film that doesn't entirely succeed but works as a fascinating curiosity. Directed by Michael Wadleigh, who made only one other film (and that was a documentary, Woodstock), it is a real one-off, though it is too long and lacks crucial dramatic tension for lengthy periods. Yet, despite its problems, it does remain consistently interesting, and it's good to see a film of this genre that tries to do something different with the rules.
Billionaires and the homeless are getting their throats torn out in New York, and evidence seems to be pointing at something not human . Grouchy detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) is teamed up with psychologist Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) to discover the truth behind these slayings.
As this was released in 1981, it sometimes gets spoken of in comparison to the two other werewolf films that came out in the same year: An American Werewolf in London and The Howling. To be honest, this is nothing like those films. Wolfen is not a werewolf film in the traditional sense. There are no fantastic special effects, grisly transformations and no real attempts at suspense. The only tense moments occur in the opening sequence and some scenes near the end. Instead this is all about the mankind's negative influence on the world and the environment, with the film seemingly siding with the wolves and their anger at nature being meddled with. In fact, the film often presents the murder sequences from the wolves' point of view, giving us little opportunity to care much about the victims as we barely see things from their side.
These wolf point-of-view shots are cleverly composed, using Steadicam photography and surreal, bleached out visuals that give these moments a truly fresh, strange identity. Some have commented that John McTiernan's 1987 SF horror Predator's better known use of similar visuals have been influenced by this film. James Horner's chilling, suspenseful music really gives atmosphere to the often excellent cinematography, which presents New York as a grand, wintry, slightly eerie world.
Finney is on good, solid form as Dewey; it's good to see a gruff, older lead character in a horror film; not exactly something you'd see these days. The attractive Venora doesn't have an awful lot to do as Neff except tag along, but it's a good performance. Gregory Hines is a coroner who divulges some fascinatingly morbid information about death in the film's early stages. Edward James Olmos is also memorable as an Indian American who may know more about the mystery behind these murders.
Some may find Wolfen disappointing when they discover it's not the kind of film they thought they were going to see, but further investigation or even an open mind on first viewing will be rewarded with a good, different kind of horror film, with a few great moments.
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