Directed by Michael Wadleigh
Cast: Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines & Tom Noonan
1981/114 mins/Color/Mono DD
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Warner Bros. DVD
After a nice, bloody opening sequence where two socialites and their bodyguard are killed by some unseen predator while taking a happy stroll in the park at night, we're plunged headlong into the urban violence of Michael Wadleigh's Wolfen.
A veteran NYPD detective (Finney) soon suspects the killings may be supernatural and deliberate; ages old beings of cunning intelligence and incerdible power, defending their turf from human encroachment. Yes, there is an underlying social comment in this movie but it doesn't detract from the overall enjoyable experience. Using a Steadicam camera and Louma crane to simulate the predator's POV, director Michael Wadleigh (Woodstock - his only other film) achieves a remarkable blend of New York City mystery and menace not captured on film before.
Finney is laid back and somewhat grumpy in his role and is a very likeable character as Dewey Wilson. Diane Venora is the obligatory token chick and her talents as an actress are nowhere near used to their potential. She was a very pretty gal back in those days and comparing her now in recent fliks confirms to me that she hasn't aged all that well. Greg Hines is an offbeat but colorful coroner's assistant whose role is excellently entwined with Finney's. Ed Olmos portrays an Indian whose beliefs are firmly and unshakebly rooted in his ancient folklore and mysticism. The Indians in this movie are true believers and know what's going on with the murders. They tell Finney all of this and he slowly and reluctantly starts to believe there is something to it. With the exception of Olmos, the Indiands here are real ones. They live in New York because they are the best at bridge repairs and maintenance due to their lack of fear of heights. Tom Noonan is a zoo employee and a wolf expert who is able to tell Dewey who (or what) is doing the killings.
I always liked this movie and was stuck watching it in P & S on t.v. when it made an appearance or on LD which has a poor to middlin' transfer. Now, I can happily retire my LD because the DVD of WOLFEN is a superb transfer. Released in its OAR of 2.35:1 and anamorphically enhanced, I've never seen a better picture. This is clean and sharp and the colors are so noticeably better than the tape, LD or t.v. versions that I felt as though I was watching a different movie. NYC has changed since this film was made but the shots of the derelict buildings in South Bronx and the many shots of the NYC skyline (including the Twin Towers) are a vision to behold. I've never seen NYC photographed so well. This is one of the Orion movies that Warner acquired and they either did some massive restoration of had a pristine print as this is a gorgeous transfer. Cudos to Warner Brothers for this one.
The sound is Dolby Digitial mono as in the original theatrical release. The supplements are a little light with only a short monograph on the history of werewolf movies and the theatrical trailer.
Not only is this a documentary time capsule of NYC, but also a fine horror and mystery story. For us gorehounds there are plenty of shots of severed limbs, throat tearings, and a nifty decapitation near the end.
Fans of this movie will love this DVD and for those who have never had the chance to see it, you should do so. This is an exciting and gruesome tale that I highly recommend.
This Film Features:
Review by Brad Vautrinot. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©