A brash Manhattan industrialist, his coke-bingeing wife and a slum wino have something grisly in common: They’re the latest victims in a series of seemingly motiveless murders, and all of them appear to have been killed by animals. Albert Finney stars in this shivery tale about brutal murders pointing to a previously unknown breed of canine creatures. Michael Wadleigh directs an innovative take on the werewolf legend full of mood and menace.
Rating: 7 out of 10
A high end, state of the art, protection agency along with the NYPD blames the horrific deaths of an uber- rich land developer and his wife on urban terrorists. Little do they know the actual criminals behind it all are a pack of mythic, bad ass, super wolves that live in the South Bronx. Bullshit, you say? Nah, it’s not. It’s the plot to Micheal Wadleigh’s 1981 horror thriller Wolfen based on the novel by Whitley Strieber. It stars Albert Finney as the hardened, semi retired police captain who is displeased about being on the case but is attracted to the police psychologist played by a very capable and likeable Diane Venora. Gregory Hines steals just about every scene he is in portraying a hip but smart medical examiner. And he sports an afro that has it’s own zip code.
I find that this film does work on many levels but it’s hard to peg where the story wants to solidify. It has all the cliche horror manipulations but it provokes thought from the viewer. There is native american indian folklore to consider since a suspect played by Edward James Olmos considers himself to be a shapeshifter. There is a subplot involving Wall Street terrorists and there is animal rights guy that claims “people kill people, not wolves.” Wrong. This film was probably a steadicam operator’s nightmare since it is used every time we go into wolfvision. It become dizzying at times but is still effective. There is some gore but not anything your average 12 year old can’t handle. I liked the film’s mood though when it evolves toward the discovery of the wolves hunting but yet protecting their turf in the Bronx. Hence the murder of the land developer. Wadleigh exudes carefully placed character interaction and mystery to propel the story to it’s rather timid ending.
The effects are a bit dated and Finney and Venora have zero chemistry. This though doesn’t really bog down Wolfen. It’s still pretty cool watching the wolves hunt their prey and when we eventually see them we are not disappointed. The wolves are beautiful yet very fierce and they do not want humans enchroaching on their territory. So there you have it. Wolfen is a smart, horror pop film from the early 80’s and it still has legs. It just won’t make you howl at the moon.
Ignoring instructions from the pharmaceutical company that funds their research, groundbreaking genetic scientists Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) continue with an unorthodox experiment to create a human-animal hybrid, a new life form they dub “Dren” (Delphine Chanéac). When they see their fantastical creation, Clive warns that it should be destroyed, but Elsa refuses — a decision she’ll regret when Dren makes deadly plans of her own.
Rating: 7 out of 10
I’ll be the first to admit that I had very low expectations going into this film. I saw the trailer and it looked like another Alien rip-off. Creature stalks human prey until they turn the tables and outsmart the physically superior opponent. It has been done to death. So, I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by Splice. It’s a much darker and more disturbing experience than I expected. The film essentially has 3 parts to it:
1. The genetic testing part: This is the first portion of the film where the characters go through trial and error of figuring how to splice together different animal DNA to create a new being entirely created by man. It asks a lot of questions that I found interesting in terms of scientific versus moral decisions. Is it our place to clone and create new forms of life? If it all goes wrong and the new created being either doesn’t survive or has to be destroyed, is it immoral? The mere fact that I’m even thinking about this shows that it’s more than a monster movie.
2. Dren’s confinement: This is the best part of the film. Dren (the creature created by the 2 main characters that is part animal and part human) has to be hidden away from everyone. The 2 scientists (played very well by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) begin to make decisions that are violent and lustful while the creature begins to exhibit an almost innocent nature at times. I started to feel sympathy for Dren and hate towards the human characters that all seemed to want to take advantage of her in one way or another. It was fascinating to watch until…….
3. Evil mean creature goes through metamorphosis and kills: Why? I mean you had me wrapped into the story and then you do this. There were so many ways to end it but you just spoiled it during the last 20 minutes! I won’t reveal it but if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about.
So, I recommend Splice, a good film that had the potential to be great.
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