Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Super Smart Wolves With Terminator Vision, or Thoughts on Wolfen

Based on the best selling novel by Whitley Streiber, Wolfen (1981) takes a decidedly modern and non-supernatural approach to werewolves.  English Acting legend Albert Finney stars as Dewey Wilson, a grumpy New York cop investigating a series of cannibalistic murders in Battery Park. 
The movie begins with an establishing shot of the 80’s New York skyline that includes the Twin Towers, which adds an element of heartbreak and sentiment to every pre 9/11 movie set in New York.  It’s a very different landscape than modern New York and the broken, abandoned buildings in the Bronx where the Wolfen hunt that are reminiscent of scenes you can encounter in Detroit today.
Werewolves in this movie are seen as hyper-intelligent wolves and evolutionary outliers, which makes this movie closer to science fiction than horror. It offers a rational explanation (within the context of this film) to the origin of the werewolf myth.  The wolfen point of view is represented with heat-cam scenes that would be used again to great effect in The Terminator (1984) and Predator (1987), and become a science fiction standard.  When the wolfen are finally revealed they look like disappointingly normal wolves with glowing red eyes.  And while it might be terrifying to see a wolf in the wild, an audience expects a little more in the safety of the movie theater or their living room.

The Wolfen remains a gritty post-noir crime drama with horror elements, closer to Clint Eastwood than Lon Chaney Jr., and a portrait of a forgotten New York.  With Edward James Olmos, a year before his career-defining role in Blade Runner, as Eddie Holt, a Native American shaman construction worker who worships the Wolfen and Gregory Hines as Whittington, the friendly, exposition supplying coroner.  Also look out for a very young Tom Noonan as a zookeeper.  You may remember him as the original Francis Dolarhyde in Manhunter (1986), Heat (1995), or the more modern 12 Monkeys TV series.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.