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127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 and deliberate: ages-old beings of cunning intelligence and incredible power, defending their turf from the encroachments of humankind.

DVD Features:
Filmographies:Cast/director film highlights
Interactive Menus
Scene Access
Theatrical Trailer

Wolfen is definitely the oddest and most socially conscious of the three big werewolf movies released in 1981 (the others were The Howling and An American Werewolf in London). Rumpled detective Albert Finney is investigating some brutal NYC murders, which leads him to discover that the collapsing buildings of the South Bronx are home to a pack of very vindictive wolflike creatures. American Indian mythology and environmental issues are more to the point here than silver-bullet lycanthropy. As a police procedural, the movie's a bust, its rhythms wrong and Finney's tortured Brooklyn accent unconvincing. But as a horror-mood piece, it can get under your skin. Some trippy photography, plus a bunch of interesting actors at the beginnings of their film careers (Diane Venora, Gregory Hines, and a lean and hungry Edward James Olmos), outweigh the druggy pace and period hairstyles. Director Michael Wadleigh (Woodstock) never made another feature. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Albert Finney, Gregory Hines, Tom Noonan, Dick O'Neill, Edward James Olmos
  • Directors: Michael Wadleigh
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 13, 2002
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067FP6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,357 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wolfen" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 18, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Miller on January 11, 2006
Format: DVD
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.......
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Luc on July 6, 2015
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Albert Finney stars and there are fine performances from Edward James Olmos,Tom Noonan (Manhunter), Gregory Hines and Diane Venora in this tale that starts as murder mystery and ends as an examination of mankind's role on the planet. It is grisly in spots but it is from 1981 and compared to many current movies this violence is mild. Still it is graphic, not for kids.
This is the first time this film has had its audio portrayed properly in home release. The director, Michael Wadleigh, knows sound- his other more well known film is "Woodstock" and most of his films are about music and musicians . For "Wolfen" he had the filmed microphones set up to provide a more immersive audio experience and prior video releases (laser disc and dvd which I have) were woefully inadequate to recreate his efforts. The DTS HD soundtrack on this blu-ray is utilized beautifully to recreate the director's original intent, an immersive experience. Finally, the film can be HEARD as well as seen!
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Lost in the rush of dark humor laced werewolf movies, "Wolfen" was a unique beast that suffered from studio interference, a fired writer-director, a new director brought on board to supervise editing/some reshoots and over an hour of unused footage.

The fact that this 80's thriller is as good as it is could be seen as a minor miracle.

Based on the horror novel by Whitley Striber, "Wolfen" resembles the novel but departs from it in so many ways that it's almost an original screenplay ). Director Michael Wadleigh hadn't tackled a drama before much less a suspense thriller. He was best known for having directed the documentary "Woodstock". Wadleigh's ambitious project was designed to be both thriller (although the studio sold it as a horror movie in the wake of the success of "The Howling" and overshadowed by "An American Werewolf in London" which followed)and social commentary.


Detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney)is summoned back to the police force to help solve the brutal murderer of Charles Van Der Beek and his wife. What Dewey uncovers isn't a terrorist attack by militants as believed by terrorist expert Rebecca Neff (Diane Verona in her film debut)but something far more ancient and terrifying. Dewey's friend Whittington (the late great Gregory Hines also in his film debut--although "The History of The World Part I" was released BEFORE "Wolfen", it was shot AFTER)quickly discounts that humans had anything to do with the attacks which continue through the city and contacts wolf expert Professor Ferguson (Tom Noonan also in his film debut)to help with the investigation.
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