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What a weird fairy tale: director Neil Jordan (Interview with the
Vampire) seems to have had the intention of taking a Freudian approach
to the story of 'Little Red Riding Hood'. The result is an almost
surreal collection of stories about rather testosterone driven
werewolves, who all have a little more on their minds than 'just' to
kill. If you like old school practical effects and transformations,
this film has 'em by the truck load (although they do seem a little
dated by now). Not everything works in this strange tale; the mix of
sexual symbolism, poetic beauty and gory horror moments seems a bit
forced at times - but when it does work it's utterly fascinating. For
fans of the weird and lovers of the pre-CGI era, this is a rare treat.
7 out of 10.
Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
Let's all thank god for Neil Jordan. Not only did he bring Anne Rice's
Interview with the Vampire to the screen in an uncompromising, superb
adaptation, but way back at the start of his career he also brought us
this mini-masterpiece about werewolves.
The setup is simple. A teenage girl in a country manor falls asleep while reading a magazine (with a cover story entitled "the shattered dream" -- a subtle hint to some of the themes of this movie), and she has a disturbing dream involving wolves which appears to take place in the woods visible from her bedroom window. It begins with a girl being chased down by a pack of wolves and killed, then we move to her funeral and discover she had a sister. The sister is your typical inquisitive girl just blossoming into womanhood, and her wise old grandmother tells her stories about men changing into wolves, with the message that all men are beasts. These stories make the girl uncomfortable about the advances of a local boy, and later a charming nobleman, and her perceptions of her parent's love life don't help. As the town becomes more and more terrified by the danger of wolf attacks, they begin to unearth evidence that there are in fact werewolves out in the woods. These findings and her own active imagination lead the girl to come up with her own werewolf stories. And when she is sent out through the woods with a red cloak and basket to visit her grandmother, you just know that there's going to be trouble ...
The Company of Wolves is a well-made, smart and highly original piece of work, and it is this movie that got Irish director Neil Jordan noticed internationally. The surreal, dream-like atmosphere of the movie is both superb and engaging, and the metaphorical nature of the movie is reasonably subtle. It is about a young girl's coming-of-age, trying to decide whether or not all men are in fact beasts when she still isn't quite sure exactly what they want from her.
Generally, werewolf movies made by European film-makers tend to have more substance and more familiarity with actual werewolf folklore -- it is part of our history after all, while Hollywood has had to create it's own werewolf myth over the years. This is probably the best British werewolf movie, followed by Dog Soldiers and Curse of the Werewolf, but even American classics like The Wolf Man and of course An American Werewolf in London, had to be set in Britain.
The lead role is played by Sarah Patterson, a young girl in her debut role at just 12 years old. After this she only appeared in one more movie (Snow White, also in the Canon Movie Tales series) then for some reason gave up on movie acting. She would certainly have had a successful career after this, you would think. The supporting actors also do good jobs, particularly Micha Bergese as the huntsman and Angela Lansbury as the creative grandmother. Other well-known names appear here in smaller roles, including Brian Glover (the yorkshireman from American Werewolf), David Warner, Stephen Rea and Terence Stamp.
It currently ranks as one of my all-time favourite werewolf movies, and I expect it to grow on me even more over time. I can recommend this without any reservation.
The Company of wolves is a very unique film that has to be watched with an open mind. It's a very surreal fantasy-horror story all of which takes place within the mind of a sleeping adolescent girl. Each story is filled with beautifully done metaphors and similes in which the werewolves represent puberty, sexuality, masculinity, and sexual awakening though there is no actual sex in the entire movie. It's very beautifully done. And even if you don't like symbolism and faery-tale style movies the werewolf transformations are quite unnerving and the stories the grandmother tells rosaleen (which are acted out as short stories in the movie) are rather chilling. This is the most original werewolf movie you will ever come across. There has never been or will there ever be again anything quite like it.
This movie is a commentary on the passage from innocence to adulthood and the life we throw away as we make that transition. It is series of dream sequences that cover the many ways a man becomes a werewolf while the primary story line is moody reworking of the Little Red Riding Hood tale. The movie itself is very complex and not for those looking for a straight horror movie or a fantasy love story. It puts forth the premise that childhood must end, and we must all in time give in to the animal within. The ending is one that comes as a surprise and a shock to most viewers. The transformation scenes are some of the most incredible in the history of werewolf movies. Those who view this movie will either walk away confused or find themselves changed in some subtle way. It tends to be a bit hard to find in the video stores, but it is more than worth the trouble of searching.
The company of wolves is very far from being the typical movie about werewolves, it's very different from films such as An American Werewolf in London or The Howling. This film is full of symbolism, it's a kind of rewriting of Perrault's Little Red Ridding Hood with Freudian elements. The film was directed by Neil Jordan, but in it we can notice the writing of Angela Carter, an author who is mainly interested in rewriting folklore myths from a feminist point of view. If you see this film you will enter a world of magic, of dreams, not only by means of the script, but also by the settings, which are really wonderful. The film itself deals with the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence, with all its sexual connotations, and the loss of innocence. When we become adults we realize life is not a magic tale. All this is treated from a feminist point of view, the main character is a girl who dreams about several stories with werewolves. Visually the movie is incredible, and it manages to reflect the symbolism of woods, the mixture of light and darkness, the magic creatures which live there during the night and the dangerous inside them especially for the girls who don't follow the path. From my point of view the film is one of the best dealing with the myth of werewolves, mainly because the film is a metaphor of life, of the human specie, all of us have an animal inside.
Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) is a teenager, living in a country house in
England with her family in the present days, and having a nightmare with
wolves and werewolves in the Middle Ages. In her dream, her boring sister is
dead, she lives with her father (David Warner) and her mother (Tusse
Silberg), but she spends lots of time with her lovely grandmother (Angela
Lansbury). Granny tells her many stories of werewolf and gives her the
following advice: "- Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple,
and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet." One day, Rosaleen, while going
to visit her grandmother, meets a handsome man and bet with him who would
arrive first at her granny's house. The story has an open end. The first
time I watched this movie was in 1984 or 1985 in a imported VHS of a
Brazilian video-club, and I liked it a lot. This video-club closed and
unfortunately, this film has not been available in Brazil since then.
Yesterday it was released on DVD and I immediately bought it. I have just
saw it and I really can say that it is an excellent movie. The story is
based on the fairy tale of the Little Red Riding Hood. Indeed it is an adult
and stylized version of the tale. But further than that, it is also a
spectacular approach of the beginning of the puberty, losing of the
innocence through wild and erotic dreams, when the character of Sarah
Patterson is becoming an young woman. Neil Jordan made an excellent work,
with a wonderful horror movie, which can have the most different
interpretations, depending on the eye and experience of the viewer. He used
many symbols, such as the use of lipstick, or the first date of Rosaleen. I
do not understand what happened to the gorgeous and very promising actress
Sarah Patterson. With her interpretation in this film, I would bet she would
have a great career ahead, what has never come true. This film is really a
cult-movie, and I am one of its greatest fan. I would like to thank the
Brazilian distributor Flashstar, for giving me the chance of see this
wonderful movie again. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `A Companhia dos Lobos' (`The Company of the Wolves')
What a bizarre film.
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 Granny 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 Granny's house...and just so happens to be a werewolf.
The back-story is introduced through flashbacks and recounts told by the old Granny 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 from wolves that seem like hellhounds...to 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 it's grounded in a dream world. I didn't take the time to read too much into the symbolism in this one (though I usually do haha), but it does seem to be chock full of it. There is just enough crazy special effects (not cgi-bs) and gore to keep you horror fans interested too.
7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember the first time around I was around 10-11 years old when I
saw this movie. A movie about Red Riding Hood cool I loved fairy tales
and for reason I don't know that was my favorite and still is one of my
favorites. Of course I didn't expect it to be a horror version. Still I
was intrigued and loved it. Still love it now.
I am though no fan of werewolf movies (even though I do think the original Wolf Man was really good) and I'm not so keen on movies with much symbolism (and no particular fan of vampires either, for some reason there always seems to be competition between the 2). And yet the movie is full of it. The story is so simple, actually there is no real story. It's 13 year old Rosaleen dreaming about being Red Riding Hood and everything that happens in that dream is how she is slowly hitting puberty.
The symbolism well I don't understand all of it (and had to look up what some meant) but yeah we have young romance. A boy her age (he is never named) is fancying Rosaleen but Rosaleen finds him silly (I remember how girls that age rather wanted an older boy as the boys their age they found too childish). Other recognizable stuff is granny's don't stray away from the path or the wild animals will get you. Of course not the animals are the danger but a werewolf is and that stands for the man seeking for innocent girl waiting for her in the bushes hoping to deflower her. Never trust a man whose two eyebrows meet. Funny thing we had a teacher who did have that. He did have two faces nice to the outer world and great in organization but he did not shy away from stealing if he could. Coincidence of course but still weird. Rosaleen finding some eggs in a bird's nest which hatch some kind of baby statues. I have read that symbolized her first menstruation (very original I must say). Throwing of her red hood I would think saying goodbye to her childhood and now making her own choices.
The stories that grandmother tells sometimes quite silly, I think are another high point of the movie. The first one about the woman marrying a wolf man, the betrayed woman who invades the wedding of the man impregnating her, the she-wolf and the priest all of them actually do mean something and could make for an interesting longer story. Only the boy meets devil story I found a bit out of place also because it does have a car which didn't exist back in those days.
Setting is awesome, the woods and its houses open place with a well. It all fits really well with the time and the famous fairy tale. A few special effects were really good. The movie also has some great transformations from man to werewolf (just as good I think as in An American werewolf in London) and of course there was the porcelain head of grandma being shattered (instead of eating her up). The toys in Rosaleen's room you can see them at various moments in her dream, the dolls and the doll house. And last but not least the various references to other fairy tales such as the apple, the toad and the gingerbread.
Of course I had not paid attention to all those details the first time around and little did I know as a child. Now watching it looking closely into it despite its simple story (I am a story person) I get so much out of it is one of my favorite movies (top 10 for sure) and probably always will be.
A teenage girl (Sarah Patterson) in a country manor falls asleep while
reading a magazine and she has a disturbing dream involving wolves
which appears to take place in the woods visible from her bedroom
How is it that after so many years as a horror fan, this title has escaped me? I may have vaguely heard of it, but certainly never saw it or had any reason to seek it out. Gee, I wish I had known about this much sooner.
While the narrative is not very straightforward, and at times a bit confusing with its story-within-a-story structure, it is such a great blend of horror and fantasy. Horror fans get the werewolf, the gore effects, and some really cool transformation scenes. Fantasy folks get vibrant colors (especially red), and very dreamlike atmosphere.
David Warner and Terence Stamp both have smaller roles, but add a bit to the picture that only they can. Angela Lansbury has a bit bigger role, though it is not one of her more flattering.
As far as the so-called "wolf cycle" of the early 1980s goes, this has to be among the top three released at the time, perhaps second only to "An American Werewolf in London". Truly art in motion.
Neil Jordan's The Company Of Wolves is a long lost horror fantasy classic, a eerie, dreamy take on little red riding hood with a cautionary message about the dangers that blossoming young girls are at risk from at the hands of men. In a dark, drafty mansion, a 14 year old girl (Sarah Patterson) tosses and turns amidst a nightmare. In her nocturnal wanderings we see her as a forest dwelling girl who lives deep in the heart of the woods with her family. Surrounding them is shadowy magic, strange creatures, and an ever present pack of pursuing wolves. As you might expect, she is tasked to journey out into the forest to her grandmother's house. There she is beset with the dangers of a wolf who hides in the skin of a man, a metaphor for the way older men pretend to be something they are not to prey on younger girls. Despite its fantasy setting, the film retains a very mature, grounded look at the risks of trusting someone you've just met, and wrestles with the ideas of how to handle educating our daughters on the dangers that young girls have to be aware of, especially in our modern world as well. It's also a gorgeously produced film. Jordan and team lovingly create a realistic yet dreamy, haunted forest atmosphere, with some truly outstanding practical effects that have to be seen to be believed. The gooey, glistening skinless wolf emerging from a man's naked body is definitely hard to forget, and the little birds eggs that produce tiny humanoid babies are phenomenally well done. Jordan, always a genius with merging together his themes with the atmosphere of the film, uses the primal fears and nightmarish ghouls on the fringes of our awareness to evoke a very real existential dread, spurred by both his visual and intellectual aspects of the film. He is a genius in my mind, one of the last of the finest. Sarah Patterson is a graceful wonder in her breakout role, and Angela Lansbury is great as her old granny. Look out for an awesome cameo from Terence Stamp as the man himself, Lucifer. This is my favourite rendition of little red riding hood because it doesn't fit into any conventional zone and strives to bring us something beautiful and different.
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