HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Wolfen The Wolves Are RunningBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Michael Wadleigh
Stars: Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Dick O'Neill, Dehl Berti, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam Gray, Ralph Bell, Max M. Brown, Anne Marie Pohtamo, Sarah Felder, Reginald VelJohnson, James Tolkan, John McCurry, Tom Waits
Genre: Horror
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In New York City, the slums are being cleared away to make room for some expensive housing developments, and one of the main players behind this operation is Christopher van der Veer, a very rich and influential man who tonight is taking a chauffeur-driven scout around the area, with his wife in the back seat alongside him. When they reach a park, they all get out, including the couple's dog, and take a playful look around, with van der Veer creeping around jokily - that is until they become aware they are being stalked by someone, or something. Suddenly the unseen assailants strike and tear the three of them to shreds... but what has done this?

In 1981, the two duelling werewolf movies of any importance to the general public were An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, you could prefer one or the other yet the debate about the best effects-packed lycanthropy flick pretty much began and ended with those. To some extent it still does, but there were other genre movies on that subject, and Wolfen was the other one from that year which should have been a contender, but never quite made the grade, partly thanks to behind the scenes turmoil yet perhaps because when you got down to it, this wasn't really a werewolf yarn at all. Certainly the menace here was a strain of intelligent wolves, but they never turned into humans at any point.

This started life as a pulpy horror novel from debuting author Whitley Streiber, a real pageturner but not one which revealed the reason the film version went off on the tangents it did. Streiber's bold claims about getting abducted by aliens tended to overshadow his fiction, especially when he posited he was drawn to horror and science fiction by the influence of those space visitors, but once upon a time he wasn't infamous for his anal probe and was a bright star in the horror paperback's heyday of the late nineteen-seventies and early eighties, so The Wolfen was an obvious choice for big screen adaptation, losing the definite article in the process. However, it was not long before the stormclouds of a troubled production gathered.

The director was Michael Wadleigh, whose best known film, and indeed only other film, was the classic music documentary Woodstock from about ten years before Wolfen, so there were influences of his hippy leanings throughout the movie which had not been in the novel. For example, now the plot had a real preoccupation with the plight of the American Indian, and a fair bit of it was caught up with the leading character, a detective played by Albert Finney, trying to work out if New York's population of Indians were actually shapeshifting their way into taking revenge on the settlers hundreds of years after their first arrival. Finney's Dewey Wilson, one of a clutch of roles he took after nearly five years away from cinema at the start of the eighties, did have other characters to team up with including a memorably wacky Gregory Hines and a very naked Edward James Olmos, but got a little lost in the narrative's issue-making.

Basically Wilson was present to be scared by the Wolfen, yet ultimately prove futile in waking up the rest of humanity to the dangers of clever wolves, while just about everyone around him was bumped off in spectacularly violent ways - say this for the movie, no matter how much it had to be re-edited and whatnot, the effects were among the best of the era. Placing it very much in that period was a credit in the opening titles for a Steadicam operator, and they undoubtedly had their money's worth out of him as not ten minutes went by but we were getting a roving point of view shot from one of the beasts, treated with a solarisation technique to look otherworldly. Indeed, the cinematography was excellent throughout, with Wadleigh taking full advantage of the widescreen compositions, which was all very well but remained creaking under the weight of the director's right-on messages. Plenty found much to resist about Wolfen at the time, not least the studio, but over the years its idiosyncrasies have brought it a well-deserved interest. Music by James Horner.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1432 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Michael Wadleigh  (1939 - )

American cinematographer who worked on Martin Scorsese's first film and Jim McBride's groundbreaking David Holzman's Diary. He later directed the Oscar-winning documentary Woodstock, but it was over ten years before his next film, the flop werewolf drama Wolfen. He has since dropped out of the film business.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: