Plot: A series of brutal murders has been going for a while, but the police are now more interested than ever, since some affluent victims have been killed. A real estate mogul and his wife were slaughtered in the attack, not just the usual hobos and homeless in the previous killings. As such, more attention is put into the case and in the lead is Detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney). He is a veteran of great experience, but he is also a little burned out from all the things he has been through. The murders are vicious, with a man’s hand torn off and a woman’s head nearly separated from her body, so these are not happenstance crimes. While leads are minimal, Wilson looks into potential occult involvement since some symbols seem to be prominent. But he hits mostly dead ends and struggles to even pinpoint the type of weapon used, though he keeps coming back to an occult and perhaps even supernatural presence. He thought he had seen it all, but is even Wilson prepared for what he will discover?
Entertainment Value: Wolfen is a tense, well crafted horror movie that relies on strong characters and atmosphere. The plot unfolds at a good pace, but it does move a little slower than most horror movies and that allows the characters and atmosphere to really shine through. The story follows a weary, but dedicated detective as he runs down endless and unexpected possibilities to solve a rash of murders. Albert Finney has the lead and brings so much the role, carrying his scenes with ease and bringing this interesting character to life. I love that he is this “seen it all” kind of detective, pushed into the unknown and Finney conveys that journey well. The cast also includes Diane Venora, Gregory Hines, and Edward James Olmos, as well as other familiar faces in supporting roles. This movie keeps the tension high, but doesn’t roll out the beasts until toward the end. Which I am sure some will dislike, but since the movie focuses on the investigation side and Finney’s character, putting the puzzle together is a prominent part of the narrative. The pace might be a touch slow here and there, but the movie never loses tension and momentum, with plenty of bursts of energy and strange moments, so you’ll never be bored in the least. A fun, well made spin on the werewolf mythos, Wolfen is highly recommended to anyone who appreciates horror cinema.
The movie is light on nudity, but a few scenes do have some naked flesh. A morgue scene reveals a number of nude corpses, complete with naked chick bush. A brief sex scene has some bare ass, while one of the film’s more outlandish moments involves an extended scene with a totally naked Edward James Olmos. The bloodshed isn’t frequent, but it used to optimal ends. An early scene has an attack that tears off a man’s hand and other mauling type wounds, which leads to a dismembered hand still clutching a gun and trying to pull the trigger. Several other scenes also feature some blood from various wounds, but the real highlight is toward the end. The finale offers another splashy hand torn off effect, as well as a decapitation by unusual methods. So not a flood of the red stuff, but a good amount and the scenes pack a nice punch. The dialogue is well written and mostly serious, but there’s also a good sense of humor. Hines’ character has some effective comic relief, while Finney also provides some quotable lines. On the craziness side, this one has some wild moments to be sure. The sudden violence, heat vision point of view scenes, and shape shifting all add to the crazy side of things. But the wackiest scene has to be a fully nude Edward James Olmos, howling and growling, jumping around with his dick flopping around. If Wolfen wasn’t a horror classic before that scene, it certainly was after.
Overall Insanity: 4/10