The Wolfen (1981)


Directed by: Michael Wadleigh

Written by: David Eyre, Eric Roth & Michael Wadleigh
Whitney Streiber (Novel)


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 .... Old Indian
Peter Michael Goetz .... Ross

Release Date: Theatrical: July 24, 1981

*Images courtesy at:






A city cop named Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) tries to unfold a crime after a rich couple is murdered along with their limo driver. He also discovers that there are more victims in the same area around a broken down city in the rough area of New York. A local coroner named Whittington (Gregory Hines) finds out that the deaths were the cause by a wild animal of some sort and also discovers some weird events with a gang of native indians. Dewey learns about these indians and their legends about their spirits becoming wolves on a full moon after one of them attacks and kills Whittington when they research the battered buildings where these so called deadly animal attacks have occured and tries to confront these natives before any more damage is caused.


The beginning looked nicely shot showing some native indians on a Brooklyn bridge swinging an object with good shots on all of this making the moments seem fairly mysterious to watch.
There's also some cheesy moments with a wealthy couple in a limousine doing drugs as well as having a night out near a parkway in which there's good shots on some chimes as well as objects moving which adds some of the suggested spookiness that would happen later on. Plus there's moments that seem awfully still which keeps you in suspense. Plus there's camera shots on negative colourisation on a mysterious beast wandering the area and looked fairly amusing when it charges in for the kill making you hope to have a nice fun horror flick to watch but ends up in a disappointment later on as this was one of the best moments in the story and then it slopes big time.
Alot of pointless scenarios on the head detective Dewey Wilson talking to the coroner Whittington about the nsolved cases as well as shots on naked corpses in a laboratory to find out what's the cause of everything.
There's a fairly effective moment when we spot a hobo acting intoxicated near a junkyard area where building are being torn down as well as the mysterious creature leaping up to attack him which looked fairly suspenseful to watch all of this happening and adding some interesting formula to the story. Then it drags again.
Some grubby shots on both Dewey and his sidekick Rebecca exploring the rough deserted areas of the town being torn down which seemed very bland to watch this along with them spotting a glowing eyes at them and they try to get out but these moments looked phony and uninspired big time.
Some interesting still close up shots on a group of indians doing some sort of a planning event near and ocean as well as one of them getting naked and going wild which is supposed to keep you in suspense wondering if he will change into a wolf but this falls flat a bit and looked a wee bit cheesy and silly.
There's a nice foggy setting when a character Ferguson does some exploring on his bike adding some still mysterious moments with nice growling sounds which can add a chill down your spine while watching this but while he tries to get away there's a scene with a monstrous claw grabbing him which is supposed to make you jump but looked way too corny to add the terror that it was supposed to have been.
There's some amusing moments when both Dewey and Whittington do a stakeout at the abandoned building and offer some okay humor to the story but not too funny nevertheless as well as a nice shot on a wolf creeping down towards him and exposing it's fangs and ready to lunge at him which seemed to look impressive for this awful flick.
There's also a neat shocking moment when Dewey, Rebecca and Warren are pitted against the wolves on the street while trying to get to their vehicle with good close up shots on the wolves showing their fangs and shocking horror violence while one of them tries to get away which there's alot of fast action movement when this is all happening. Another scene that violent horror fans can take a nod to here.
Many good close up shots and mysterious discussions on some native indians in a lounge talking to Dewey but yet doesn't looked too enetrtaining at the same time.
The best moment is about to come when the wolves come crashing through some windows about to attack both Dewey and Rebecca but we spot on what Dewey does in order to put a stop to this and as to why these wolved wrecked havoc in the first place which seemed to improve in the story just when it was nearing it's end.
Bottom line is that this film was utterly a bore. I first saw this on TV when I was having a sleepover with my cousins at my aunt and uncles place. I was too terrified to watch horror films then but one of my cousin's loved horror films. Watching it again this didn't scare me one bit but there are odd frightening stuff with the wolves attacking but that was about it. This was made while werewolf movies like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London were huge hits but this one was a true dud based on Whitley Stribers novel which was almost unheard of.

The acting is very mediocre and not a heck worth mentioning but will do my best here.... Lead actor Albert Finney (Dewey Wilson) seemed to have the right looks to portray a city cop in the film and had the gruffness in his speaking. Plus he shows a nice seriousness with his attitude as well as offering a nice bluntness too. Sometimes he shows some okay energy but yet isn't too special offering much characteristics and wouldn't be well remembered for his role in this one I must say even if he tried in order to do whatever he could to pull it all off.
Diane Venora (Rebecca Neff) tried to act sharp as the sidekick but however her energy and enthusiasm seemed quite lacking as I tried my best to like her performance but just couldn't. Her looks were okay and not overly beautiful which should've been to attact the viewers but doesn't. Her screaming in terror is very low key too. Sorry I just can't say much good about her performance at all.
Edward James Olmos
(Eddie Holt) was the better one's out of the cast but that's not saying much. Yet he comes across as perfectly mysterious in what he does here with his silent motive as well as acting a bit creepy too within his speaking along with showing a good blunt attitide too. Plus shows off some okay energy when he makes out that he will change into a werewolf by springing around and going wild even if the scene itself looked cheesy. He also had the perfect rough looks too which was another plus for his role.
Gregory Hines (Whittington) seemed to be the best out of the whole cast as he showed off alot of spunk and enthusiasm as the coroner in the flick adding a nice sense of humor with whatever he does especially within his work as he made his role come to life a good deal here. Plus does a nice job goofing around at times and having a perfect outgoing attitude which also showed off nicely too. Also had the looks that grabbed your attention with his wide eyed features.
Dick O'Neill (Warren) also seemed to show it off nicely as the head of the law as well as showing a no nonsense attitude with a nice serious focus on subjects. Plus he shows it off nicely when he had to get stern on stuff as well as coming across sarcastic whenever he needed to do this and being a tease too. He definetely studied this role quite well along with showing a nice kind hearted attitude too which showed off just as well. Plus he shows alot of dynamic energy when struggling against the terrors and really showing off a ton of great adrenaline here.

A male native indian is full naked running around a beach pretending to be a werewolf.
There are also naked corpses.
Someone moons the cop for fun while they are looking for clues.

A black limo drivers hand is bitten off as a couple are murdered bloodily.
There are also bite marks on peoples necks and more bloody moments too like a bitten off head an another hand.

The music by James Horner is greatly composed and he shows more talent than the movie itself with his intense violin and horn composing which we hear alot of screeching sounds as well as low trombone effects almost what you'd hear in the Friday the 13th or A Nightmare On Elm Street flicks. Also there's some good chiming sounds as well as the odd heartbeats which makes the awful plot seem truly effective. Plus we hear the odd piano tapping as well as some peaceful sounds for the mellow moments which doesn't sound too shabby. There's even the odd flute playing too which seemed to do the trick as well. He composed many classics afterwards like in Apollo 13, Titanic, The Perfect Storm and The Forgotten to name some.