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Wolfen (1981)

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

Directors:

, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

(based on the novel by), (screen story) | 3 more credits »

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2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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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 ...
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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:

They can hear a cloud pass overhead, the rhythm of your blood. They can track you by yesterday's shadow. They can tear the scream from your throat. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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

Some movie posters featured a preamble that read: "They can hear a cloud pass overhead, the rhythm of your blood. They can track you by yesterday's shadow. They can tear the scream from your throat. Wolfen. There is no defense". See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[about the wolves]
Old Indian: They're shiftless. They might be gods!
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

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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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