Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 things to love about Wolfen (1981)

What’s it about:
Albert Finney is a New York cop tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a real estate tycoon and his wife. All the clues point to the killer being a group of wolves, possibly even werewolves(!), who are hiding out in the ruins of the Bronx.

5 things to love:
1. The POV shots in the film are really well done. It’s similar to Predator but rather than pixelated bright colour it’s done with an effect I’ve never seen before. It sort of inverts certain colours. The camerawork in these sequences are super smooth. There’s a part where it ascends a spiral staircase that I can’t figure out how they did so well. It’s mesmerising.

2. The setting is also very cool. A lot of it is shot in the ruins of New York’s Bronx district. I’ve seen glimpses of this period before but never in such detail. Rubble strewn blocks with single burnt out buildings still standing. It all looks amazing. Hats off to cinematographer Gerry Fisher (Highlander, Exorcist III).

3. At one point Finney’s character climbs the Brooklyn Bridge to talk to a group of Native American construction workers. It’s a super tense scene with Finney using safety lines to secure himself. You can tell they didn't fake this.

4. The film is full of great performances: Gregory Hines as a morgue attendant, Tom Noonan as an animal expert but far and away the most memorable is Edward James Olmos who gives a crazy and ballsy performance - both figuratively and literally - as at one point he runs around a beach naked at night pretending to be a werewolf.

5. Though the film is very down to earth and realistic for most of the running time it occasionally bursts into flurries of super insane violence. At one point, a wolf bites a man’s head clean off. The head falls to the floor and the man is still able to blink for a few seconds before the car next to his body explodes!

1 thing it didn’t need:
The sex scene between Albert Finney and his love interest. No thanks, didn’t need to see that.