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

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

There is no defense. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A farkas  »

Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rather than go for a big name supporting cast, director Michael Wadleigh decided to cast unknowns or actors that appeared on Broadway, which included Diane Venora, who beat out over 200 actresses for the part and Gregory Hines. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Warren: I'm going to team you up with Dewey Wilson on this Christopher VanderVeer thing.
Rebecca Neff: I didn't know he was back. I thought he retired, disabled, mental...?
Warren: He had a lot of family problems, he started to drink a little too much, police work... piled up on him. He's a good man, you'll like him.
Rebecca Neff: Okay, fine.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Flying Doctors: Sins of the Father (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Jitterbug Boy
Written by Tom Waits
Performed by Tom Waits
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User Reviews

 
Great Take Off, But a Soft Landing
28 January 2016 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

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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