Wolfen (1981)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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Albert Finney
Albert Finney
Diane Venora
Diane Venora
Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos
Gregory Hines
Gregory Hines
Tom Noonan
Tom Noonan
Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 19, 2007
Since the site seems to be on a werewolf kick lately, I thought I would take the time to re-introduce everyone to a regularly forgotten horror gem from 1981, the classic werewolf film, "Wolfen". Directed by Michael Wadleigh, whose only other major work was the documentary masterpiece "Woodstock", obviously brought his politics and his beliefs with him to work, because they are what separate "Wolfen" from all the other horror films, and werewolf films of the time. The film touches on deep rooted social issues than Wadleigh stashes away under the guise of a traditional werewolf film. But "Wolfen" is far from traditional.

The great Albert Finney stars as Dewey Wilson, a New York cop who is investigating a string of bizarre murders that resemble animal attacks. The more and more he digs into the mystery of these murders, the more and more he learns of an old Indian legend about wolves and lupins. This leads to a showdown on the city streets between the veteran cop, a pack of the Wolfen and the Native Americans determined to keep their land. You see, "Wolfen" is really social commentary on everything from the mistreatment of the Native Americans to the urbanization of just about all of our natural resources. Director Wadleigh is advocating a slowing down of these trends and in order to encourage that, he sicks a pack of wolves on anyone who might disagree with that philosophy.

This film has a lot of good things working for it. First off, it's a werewolf film about actual wolves, not men who turn into wolves (not technically anyways). The murder scenes are very well done, very graphic and are shot in what I can only call 'wolf cam'. This technique serves the film very well. Gregory Hines does a nice job in his supporting role as Whittington, as do Edward James Olmos, Diane Venora and the great Tom Noonan. This cast has quite a pedigree to it, which doesn't surprise you when you see how unusual the finished product is. This film is forgotten, I suppose, because it's not your traditional horror film. It doesn't rely on the same scare tactics, and I guess Wadleigh is actually trying to appeal to our social consciences more than anything else. Who would have expected something like that from thew guy who directed "Woodstock"?

I thoroughly recommend "Wolfen". It's not your traditional werewolf film. But it works. 8/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 04/11/2010, 07:35 PM
This was a werewolf film?
No, I've never cared for "Wolfen". Saw it at a dollar-show when I was a wee-lad and it just wasn't much of a horror-movie. I was perplexed by exactaly WHAT the movie was trying to be, so I looked for the book, which helped all of nothing, in terms of plot or story, but it was a good read. The movie, however, is just boring. Drawn-out, preachy and ridiculous, but mostly just boring.
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