This straightforward, intelligent film puts a new spin on the werewolf legend, presenting the creatures as a superior species living in the slums of New York City. Police detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) is assigned to investigate the savage murder of a rich industrialist. When the city coroner (Gregory Hines, in his film debut) suggests that the dead man was mutilated by a wild animal, Wilson and criminal psychologist Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) connect the killing with several murders that have occurred in which the bodies of winos, drug addicts, and bums have been found with their throats ripped out. Further investigation by Wilson and Neff leads to a group of Native American construction workers and to a strange tale of the "Wolfen" that once roamed the land that is now New York City. Directed by Michael Wadleigh, whose only other feature is the 1970 rock documentary WOODSTOCK, WOLFEN is an intelligent, insightful, and visually creative twist on the werewolf legend. Although occasionally preachy, it is a fascinating horror tale that is as engrossing as it is horrifying. The visual effects are sensational, introducing to the screen a previously unseen "Wolfen vision" that, through a variety of optical printing techniques, conveys the wolves' heightened awareness of heat, smell, movement, and texture. The gore effects by Carl Fullerton are effective, if somewhat gratuitous.