Revisiting WOLFEN

I confess that I have a tendency to view movies that I loved in my childhood with perhaps not as critical an eye as I should as an adult. That whole “rose-colored glasses” thing, the powerful effects of nostalgia. Still, WOLFEN, released in 1981 and based on novelist Whitney Strieber’s debut work, holds up quite well after thirty-plus years. If you’ve never seen it, I give it an enthusiastic recommendation. In addition to being just a scary, solid thriller, it is of interest as a werewolf film due to the fact that it eschews the traditional man-into-wolf transformations in favor of a spiritual metamorphosis. The titular beasts are spirit wolves, ghost wolves, if you will, the souls of Native American shapeshifters separated from their bodies while the Indians sit in a trance. Maybe. The connection is implied but is never stated conclusively.

The Wolfen can appear and disappear at will; that much is certain. And while they used real wolves in the making of the film, it is explained by one of the Indian characters that they are NOT true wolves. (The disappearing-at-will trope probably would’ve tipped the viewer off to that, anyway.) They are larger, more fearsome, and possessed of an infernal intelligence. Plus, y’know, they’re ghosts. Anyway, it’s a good flick. With Hollywood gone remake crazy these days, I sure wouldn’t mind seeing WOLFEN get a 21st Century update. Or better yet, how about a sequel to the original? Show us what the Wolfen have been up to in the past three decades. Best of both worlds!

By The Evil Cheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (,, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!


  1. I like the idea of a Wolfen remake but, one that is far truer to the book. A story about an unknown species of canine with almost human intelligence that’s has stayed hidden in modern times and feeds on human flotsam is truly a good idea for a horror movie.

  2. Just caught the last of this movie again after many years. Indeed the movies ending leaves much to speculation. Personally, I have always hated the end of the movie because it felt hurried and random. What the exact role of the native americans in the film is murky.

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