A real estate tycoon, his coke-binging wife and a slum wino have something grisly in common: they're the latest victims in a series of random murders. A veteran NYPD detective soon suspects the killings may be supernatural... more » and deliberate: ages-old beings of cunning intelligence and incredible power, defending their turf from the encroachments of humankind. DVD Features:
Jefferson N. from BLAIRSVILLE, GA Reviewed on 12/2/2012...
Wolfen is the story of a pack of supernatural wolves that may be werewolves...or something even more ancient and powerful! The city and a sleazy developer break ground on renovations in a part of the city that has been claimed by these strange beasts...and the Wolfen begin to systematically butcher them everyone who invades their territory. A detective investigating the murders suspects it may be the work of Native Americans who may or may not be shapeshifter that don't want the city to take the land, but by the time he finds the true secret of the Wolfen, his life will never be the same.
This movie relies heavier on atmosphere and high tension than it does horrific special effects, which makes it still hold up today whereas some werewolf films of the time look a lot more dated. This one has it's share of gore, and it's a creepy one. If you like werewolf movies and you haven't seen this one, it should most definently be on your list!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
For Them There Can be No Lies
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 09/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every once in a while there comes to the horror genre a film that is something more, which leaves the viewer unnexpectedly pondering. Hitchcock was a master at this, and, more recently we have had 'Seven,' and 'Silence of the Lambs.' Coming in the 1980's, when the werewolf film was largely beinng redefined ('The Howling,' and 'An American Werewolf in London') 'Wolfen' truly set itself apart.Of course, the fact that it is not exactly a werewolf film has a bit to do with that. Set in a New York City that seems almost post devastation, with scene after scene in the worst possible slums it is a revelation of people in woeful straits, and a study of the predators (human and otherwise) that live among them. The film also flirts with Native American reality and myths and the nature of the pressures of urbanization.P>The bleak scene making, the totally believable performances by all the actors and the adept use of just enough violence and special effects combine to provide a compelling experience for the watcher. Michael Wadleigh (who also directed 'Woodstock') displays a sense of timing that uses each discovery to catapult the tension to new levels. This is not a film that permits clinical distance, but which strives to create a tumult of ideas that crystallize into a grand finale.'Wolfen' is a horror film that begs the question of what really is the true horror, the monster or the man. My only regret is that this disc is pure film with no effort to provide any of the traditional extra features. I was hoping for at least an interview or two, or even a short on the filmmaking, but none of that is provided. Even so, I recommend this as a special treat for all horror buffs."
Intriguing political horror movie, but short on scares
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/23/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"1981 was "The Great Werewolf Year," when three major films heralded a revival of the legendary monster. "The Howling" and "An American Werewolf in London" have both become classics, while the third, "Wolfen," remains an oddity. It is definitely the strangest of the three and makes unusual changes to the werewolf mythology to the point that it might not be about werewolves at all. The usual standards of the genre -- silver bullets, wolfsbane, transformations, curses -- are nowhere to be seen, although there are hints of spiritual powers and cunning intelligence beyond the natural world. And while "American Werewolf in London" and "The Howling" contained extensive comedy and many genre-references along with their horror, "Wolfen" plays its story straight and dead serious. It has social issues mixed into its thrills 'n' chills premise: a police detective (Albert Finney) investigating murders in New York City that point toward a wolf-like killer, or possibly a whole pack of them. Director Michael Wadleigh (his only other film is the classic concert documentary "Woodstock") uses the horror movie backdrop as a venue for commentary on class, environmentalism, industrialization, and Native American politics.This is an ambitious bill to fill, and "Wolfen" doesn't quite manage to pull it off. You can appreciate Wadleigh's goals, but he often trips over trying to do too much. The political grandstanding makes for a thoughtful horror movie, but it also slows the film down and overbalances it. Sometimes, you just want action and scares, and "Wolfen" frequently drags. It would have rocked at ninety-minutes, but at nearly two hours, it goes on for too long. The open moves rapidly, and the ending delivers the right amount of apocalyptic violence you expect, but in the center the spaces between the wolf attacks start feeling longer and longer.Some of various elements never fit together, and a few plot points just left on the ground. The mystery surrounding the creatures is, however, appropriate -- sometimes it's better for a horror film to avoid spelling out everything for you.Where "Wolfen" works best is in Wadleigh's superb visual style and the realistic performances. The use of a polarization effect and a steadicam to represent the wolves' POV is quite stunning and eerie. Wadleigh also expertly films New York City and its run-down slums. The film absolutely breathes with a battered, decayed atmosphere. Wadleigh really goes all out with unusual visua; approaches, and it gives the film a polished and inventive feel. Albert Finney and Diane Venora are both good in their roles; Finney especially projects a wonderful world-weariness that matches the setting around him. The film thankfully doesn't load him down with excess psychological baggage. We don't need to have his troubles explained to us; we can SEE them in the world in which he lives. Edward James Olmos is also memorable as a Native American who draws Finney's suspicions early in the movie. Gregory Hines, however, is too exaggerated in his semi-comic role (the only comedy in the film) of the coroner working with Finney. The movie also has an excellent early score from James Horner (composer of "Titanic" and "Aliens").The DVD has an extremely good transfer, which is surprising considering the film's age. The print looks almost pristine and is gorgeously formatted in widescreen. Warner Bros. usually doesn't put this much effort into back catalog movies like this. The Dolby Surround Stereo is adequate (I occasionally noticed some synch problems) and a bit low in volume. The extras are skimpy: the trailer, a page listing the cast and crew, and a few screens of text on the history of werewolf movies. (An earlier edition advertised audio commentary on the back of the snap case, but this was a misprint.)"Wolfen" is worth a look for horror fans, or people who want some social commentary and intelligence with their thrills. If you can make it through the slower sections, you'll find it a rewarding viewing experience."
Wolfen has much, much more to say than just 'boo!'.
Marc Ruby? | 06/02/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wolfen is a very rare species in the horror genre in that it actually has something to say besides 'boo!' It is actually a well done urban fable about the folly of man's belief in his inherent domination of nature. Albert Finney is good as the NYPD cop who is assigned to solve a series of uncharacteristically grizzly murders. Gregory Hines crackles as the smarmy coroner. But it is really the camerawork that is the star of Wolfen. It is first rate. For the first part of the movie, the camera IS the vicious beast, stalking then attacking its unsuspecting prey in an array of dizzying,infared swatches of terror. The camerawork is so good in metaphorically being the killer that when we get our first glimpse of the actual killer, it isn't as frightening. The photographer also deserves kudos for a magnificent job of portraying a very different New York City than most of us are used to seeing. In Wolfen, it is surreally cold and seems almost devoid of human warmth. It's like a giant cage in which our characters are plopped--perfect! To sum it up, Wolfen is literally a must-see."
"THEY DON'T MAKE MOVIES LIKE WOLFEN ANYMORE"
Patrick Miller | NEW YORK | 01/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whitley Striebers book "Wolfen" explains alot more than this movie ever could. I still feel this movie was done very well. I was dissapointed that this dvd only has a trailer and no other special features. Wolfen was filmed beautifully in New York, Bklyn, Bronx, Staten Island. Wolfen really caught New York during 1980-1981,the big apple was some what different then. This film eerily catches the Bronx in a cold septic view. Wolfen made you very aware of the sociol class, poverty and drug problems of America during the early 1980s. The soundtrack by James Horner is simply awesome. In my opinion Wolfen was the best of the wolf movies of the early 1980s. They dont make movies like this anymore. This was Michael Wadleighs last film but really a well directed film with some interesting actors and charachters. Wolfen does have some political views as well as regarding mans technology against natures, and the treatment of the American Indian and thier connection to the wolf. Albert Finney plays an excellent NYPD detective. The late Gregory Hines an excellent pathologist. Veteran actor Dick O'neil plays a believable NYPD Captain. Diana Venora whatever became of Diane, but her charachter was really interesting to. This film also supplies some great landscape shots as well. People will have different views of Wolfen,but in all very entertaining. Take out of "Wolfen" what you will. "Wolfen knows all, there could be no lying". Michael Wadliegh and his crew do an awesome job with a steadicam and a louma crane capturing the predators prospective. A very well crafted film with some ambiguity......."
MOVIE DIFFERENT FROM BOOK. BOTH SMART, ENTERTAINING.
Patrick Miller | 08/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having read the book by Whitley Streiber, it's clear that the director of the movie took creative license. (There was no Indian and the Wolfen were not wolves, but werewolves). However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that both versions of the story worked well; with the movie having an interesting moralistic subplot. Although I enjoyed other werewolf movies ("American Werewolf in London" and the 1st "Howling"), "Wolfen" was refreshingly subtle in its depiction of the beast, giving only their perspective by using a "wolf cam." Thus, "Wolfen" is a good choice for those who enjoy intelligent thrillers as opposed to blood-splattering slice and dice horror films."