96 user 93 critic

Wolfen (1981)

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


, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


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

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From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Dehl Berti ...
Sam Gray ...
Ralph Bell ...
Max M. Brown ...
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)

Opening Weekend:

$3,037,911 (USA) (26 July 1981)


$10,626,725 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Albert Finney's first film appearance since " The Duellists " in 1977, which had only been little more than a cameo because his then-girlfriend Diana Quick was also cast. 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 »


Rebecca Neff: South Bronx and Wall Street! What's the connection?
Dewey Wilson: They're both dead!
See more »


Referenced in The Dream Team (1989) See more »


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

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User Reviews

It's not wolves, it's Wolfen ...
28 July 2006 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Highly stylised account of territorial beings protecting their heritage from would be developers. Director Wadleigh offers a surreal, suspenseful tale where mysticism and folklore conjure a modern day nightmare for the residents of a New York city development precinct.

Finney is ideally cast as an unassuming police detective assigned to investigate the apparent ritual slayings of a billionaire developer, his wife and bodyguard in a New York park. Pulsating synthesisers and point-of-view audio-visual cinematography add a sophisticated dimension to this one of a kind movie, that benefits from an unusual cast who excel in their offbeat characterisations.

Perfectly cast is future "Manhunter" (Red Dragon) Tom Noonan as the over-protective zoologist, dancer Gregory Hines as the hip coroner, and Edward James Olmos as the misplaced American Indian whose mystical incantations reveal the true identity of the killer. Reginald Vel Johnson (of "Die Hard" fame) also features in an hilarious bit part as a morgue attendant.

The manufacturers of prosthetic, severed hands make a killing in this movie which revels in its measured use of black comedic undertones. But don't be fooled; this is still a thoughtful, sometimes graphic motion picture that entertains on many levels. The often poetic dialogue and haunting score should keep you curious about this movie enough to want to see it again and again. A real sleeper.

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