1981 was a pretty awesome year for fans of Werewolf films. Both The Howling and An American Werewolf in London saw their release, making use of groundbreaking special effects that still hold up to this day. Both films managed to take old legends and stories, and bring them into the 20th century, and still stand as two of the best werewolf films ever made. In addition to these 2 classics, Wolfen was also released. Based on a novel by Whitley Strieber, the film is not about Werewolves as such, but evokes many of the same fears, while conveying a unique message.
I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, because I think EVERYONE should see this film, so please bear with me. The plot follows New York cop Dewey Wilson investigating the suspicious murder of a wealthy land developer. Strange hairs are found at the scene what experts determine are the hairs of a wolf, but not any of the 50 know subspecies. Whomever or whatever is doing the killing seems to have a humans cunning with an animals savagery. Dewey finds himself desperately seeking answers, even considering the possibility of shapeshifters after talking to a group of Native Americans.
If you’ve ever seen a full grown Timber Wolf angry, you know how terrifying it is. This film delivers some fantastic shots of truly beautiful creatures in ways seldom seen outside of Animal Planet. The film also offers an interesting look at trying to stay connected to the natural world while still within a suffocating concrete metropolis. Wolfen is most certainly NOT a Werewolf film, but still has that familiar feel to it. It examines the relationship between man and beast in a way that Horror films rarely see, while still giving us the tension and dread we so crave.
” In arrogance man knows nothing of what exists. There exists on this earth such as we dare not imagine; life as certain as our death, life that will prey on us as surely as we prey on this earth.”