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Fashioned in vein of Tales of The Brothers Grimm, this early Neil Jordan (The Crying Game; Interview With A Vampire) fantasy horror weaves a vampire-like seduction into the traditional red riding hood tale.
It's heavy on the fantasy, as opposed to the horror. But when it does kick into horror-mode it gets pretty badass. The transformations are among the best I've seen...second only, maybe, to the one in American Werewolf In London.
Essentially, we have a young lady who has fallen asleep while reading werewolf tales; and begins to dream she is playing a leading role in a story in which she finds herself being seduced by a charming werewolf-man....after wandering off the the path in the woods. Insert psychoanalysis here.
The young lass is being groomed by her Grandmother to be a proper young lady. She warns her of the dangers that lurk off the path in the woods- granted she ever dare wander. She even made her a red shawl to wear.
A boy from town is constantly trying to woo the young lady, but to no avail. No one manages to catch her eye until she meets a charming gentleman in the woods- who intercepts her on her way to her Grandmother's house...and he just so happens to be a werewolf.
The back-story is introduced through flashbacks and recounts told by the old Grandmother; and young girl (in real time) to her mother (after she wakes up). This covers stuff like the death of her sister; why she began to wander off the path; and various excerpts from local legends- detailing the historic accounts of werewolf encounters.
Lot's of weird stuff happens in this film: from girls running among giant mushrooms away from wolves that seem like hellhounds; and toy babies hatching from eggs...to mention only a couple.
But considering it is all occurring in a dreamstate (up until maybe the end, but probably even then), this surely opens the door to symbolic readings and interpretations. There very well may be some esoteric message tied in there somewhere...but if there was, it wasn't overtly evident to me. So it probably leaves room for a broad spectrum of interpretation.
That being said...the scenery and costumes are pretty cool. And, as was previously mentioned, the transformations are f*cking sweet. Especially the one where dude rips his face off until he's just muscles...although, the one where the wolf bursts through the guy's mouth is pretty rad too. Not to mention that tongue gimmick...
I suppose this qualifies as a psychological werewolf horror, due to it's non-linear structure, and the fact that it's grounded in a dream world. I didn't take the time to read too much into the symbolism in this one (when I usually do haha), but it does seem to be chock full of it. And there is just enough crazy special effects (no cgi-bs) and gore to keep you horror fans interested too. Recommended.
7 out of 10.
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