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Endangered Species (1982)

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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 596 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 9 critic

About a retired New York cop on Vacation in America's West who is drawn into a female sheriff's investigation of a mysterious series of cattle killings.



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Title: Endangered Species (1982)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruben Castle
Harriet Purdue
Joe Hiatt
Ben Morgan
Marin Kanter ...
Mackenzie Castle
Dr. Emmer
Margery Bond ...
Judy Hiatt
Joseph G. Medalis ...
Alvin Crow ...
Deputy Wayne
Ned Dowd ...
Deputy Bobby


Thriller about a New York ex-cop and an attractive female sheriff who fall in love while investigating a string of mysterious cattle mutilations in a small Colorado town. Urich is great as Reuben Castle, the retired alcoholic police lieutenant out visiting the town with his tomboy daughter. At first he tries to stay out of the case but finds himself involved after the mysterious death of his friend Joe Hiatt, the editor of the local paper whose theories about black helicopters have aroused the ire of cattle baron Ben Morgan. Trying miserably to stay sober, Castle finds himself back in danger and in love, as he and the sheriff work together to get to the bottom of the mystery, encountering incredible danger and resistance from the frightened locals. Written by Unknown

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What you don't know can kill you.


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 September 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Endangered Species  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character Susan is played by Heather Menzies-Urich, co-star Robert Urich's off-screen wife. Menzies is best known as Louisa, one of the children in The Sound of Music (1965). See more »


Chester: [breaking away from kissing] Hey, hey. How old are you?
Mackenzie Castle: Nineteen.
Chester: No - Really?
Mackenzie Castle: Chicken.
See more »


Spoofed in Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (2004) See more »


Composed and Performed by Hoyt Axton
Courtesy of Jeremiah Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Well, look what the dead cow dragged in!
22 August 2010 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

A mate of mine and myself combined this film with a viewing of "The Return" and referred to it as our cattle mutilation double-feature, simply because it's a common recurring element in both films and there generally aren't that many Sci-Fi/horror flicks that are dealing with rotting cow carcasses. That's actually kind of surprising because it's such a clichéd trademark in terms of alien invasion movies. "Endangered Species" definitely was the better movie of the two, and also the most ambitious and surprising one, since it featured many more intriguing and unsettling Sci-Fi themes than we initially suspected. Simply put, and without ruining too much of the plot, the film continuously keeps you guessing what or who the protagonists are up against. Through a uniquely enigmatic narrative structure and very atypical character drawings, director & co-writer Alan Rudolph delivers an oddly fascinating hybrid between Sci-Fi and Cold War conspiracy thriller that is far more profound than 'yet another alien invasion' movie. Fatigue and ex- alcoholic New York copper Ruben Castle is driving through a little Colorado town with his rebellious teenage daughter, on their way to a long vacation. The brand new female sheriff of the little town struggles with a huge problem, however, as numerous of heavily mutilated cow carcasses – the area's biggest source of income – have been discovered lying around rotting in the fields. The two law officers reluctantly join forces to investigate and discover that not a whole lot of things are kosher around town. There's more to be said about the plot, but it would really be a shame to spoil anything. "Endangered Species" is a hidden gem of early 80's cult cinema, that's for sure. The film admirably alters sequences of genuine suspense (the helicopter chase!) with moments of gross horror (the stomach-explosion!). The cattle mutilation is also very competently handled. The make-up effects on the carcasses are truly unsettling and the sight of a dead cow cadaver getting dropped from above and into a river is strangely disturbing. There's also a very impressive sequence with a bull that is actually on fire! I reckon that would have been a really difficult scene to shoot. Also, and as mentioned before already, "Endangered Species" distinguishes itself from the majority of early 80's genre films because of its exceptional characters and their overall awkward interactions. The love-hate connection between a rough NY copper and the delicate small town sheriff are plausible. The late Robert Urich and exquisite JoBeth Williams form a supreme on screen couple. The supportive roles are terrific as well, like Castle's obnoxious teenage daughter and Hoyt Axton as the unofficial spokesperson of the entire town.

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Any news on a future DVD release? scribejack
Shot in my hometown CSHaviland
Movie good, movie soundtrack very bad! asche1959
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