Wolfen (1981)

Directed by Michael Wadleigh
A King-Hitzig Production

For years, I managed to remain confused as to whether I’d seen this (werewolf) picture, because in my mind I eternally conflated it with The Howling. (It didn’t help that both were released the same year.) Usually, I managed to clear up my confusion by remembering that “Howling” has Dee Wallace in it, and that’s the one I’d actually seen. Yet I still wondered if I’d ever watched this flick, so I decided to lay that question to rest. Turns out I’d never seen it. Turns out it isn’t even about werewolves! Turns out it’s a bit unclear exactly what kind of movie it is, but I can tell you it involves “Indians,” hotchpotch Native American mythologisms, wolves, some prescient Homeland Security-type apparatus, domestic and international terrorism, an NYPD detective who’s British and pairs up with a heavily armed police psychologist, a weirdo who works at the zoo, and I’m probably forgetting some other stuff. To sum up: if you’re not sure you’ve seen it … you haven’t.


Why Did I Watch This Movie?

I just “explained” that!



Should You Watch This Movie?

Not if you’re looking for werewolves.


H
ighlight and Low Point

The main “Indian” character is played by Edward James Olmos, which is at least somewhat curious given that many Native Americans are employed in bit parts or small supporting roles. The terrorism subplot seems really incidental. The wolves wind up being arbitrarily selective about their victims, and the alpha is pure white, although if that was explained, I missed it. Allegedly, the ruined church was built and destroyed just for this production, which seems insanely wasteful given what’s revealed by the actual footage of the South Bronx environs. The “wolfen,” uh, POV segments are … idiosyncratic.

Rating From Outer Space: C

Fantasy Island (2020)

directed by jeff wadlow
columbia pictures/BLUMHOUSE productions

So I was doing my usual browsing for tripe when I came across this title, and thought to myself, “Well, that can’t possibly be – “

But it was, oh yes. An indefensible, uh, reimagining of the absurd escapist television drama of the late ’70s/early ’80s, which was right up there with its programming partner “The Love Boat” in terms of challenging intellectual fare. Of course, this rendition bears the Blumhouse stamp, as does the recent “Invisible Man,” which might provide a clue to the underpinnings of Jason Blum’s money-printing machine … he ain’t paying for new stories, that’s for sure. Especially here, a dumb idea that unfolds into a mishmash of stale, borrowed scenes – and let’s face it,  there couldn’t have been much hope for anything better given the source material.

Did I mention it’s a “prequel”? (!)

why did i watch this movie?

I had to make sure it wasn’t just a figment of my imagination, ironically enough.

should you watch this movie?

You know, The Hunt is yet another Blumhouse-spawned rewrite that had its debut this year. I expected a little more from a varsity letterman.

highlight and low point

I suppose the acme of this production must be how shameless it is, or perhaps the fact that the cast largely seem to be taking their jobs seriously. (The working vacation in Fiji presumably helped.) As this waste of time finally staggered to a close – it for some reason is 109 minutes long – my real-time observation was, “This is insanely idiotic.” Then, having untangled the ins and outs of just who was responsible for the whole stupid mess, the heartwarming tearjerker ending revealed the origin story of “Tattoo.”

If you don’t know what that could possibly mean, thank ye gods.

rating from outer space: F