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Wolfen (1981)

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

Director:

Michael Wadleigh

Writers:

Whitley Strieber (based on the novel by), David Eyre (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:
Albert Finney ... Dewey Wilson
Diane Venora ... Rebecca Neff
Edward James Olmos ... Eddie Holt
Gregory Hines ... Whittington
Tom Noonan ... Ferguson
Dick O'Neill ... Warren
Dehl Berti Dehl Berti ... Old Indian
Peter Michael Goetz ... Ross
Sam Gray Sam Gray ... Mayor
Ralph Bell Ralph Bell ... Commissioner
Max M. Brown Max M. Brown ... Christopher van der Veer
Anne Marie Pohtamo ... Pauline van der Veer
Sarah Felder Sarah Felder ... Cicely Rensselaer
Reginald VelJohnson ... Morgue Attendant (as Reginald Vel Johnson)
James Tolkan ... Baldy
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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:

Their hunting ground - New York City. Their prey - the people. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A farkas See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,037,911, 26 July 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$10,626,725
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (MegaSound encoding) (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Debut feature film of actress Diane Venora. And almost the first film for actor Gregory Hines, it being his second, as History of the World: Part I (1981) had premiered about a month earlier. 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

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

Soundtracks

Jitterbug Boy
Written by Tom Waits
Performed by Tom Waits
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Great Take Off, But a Soft Landing
28 January 2016 | by dglinkSee 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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