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A young girl (Sarah Patterson) is warned by her grandmother (Angela
Lansbury) about men, werewolves, and staying on the forest path. Very
strange and not always coherent but undeniably intriguing. The movie is
a series of stories/dreams full of symbolism, leading up to a variation
of the Little Red Riding Hood story. Not having a linear narrative
hurts it some, I think. But that's probably also one of the things
pretentious types like most about it. It's a good movie but obviously
not for all audiences. It looks terrific. There's a dreamlike quality
about it that I enjoyed a lot.
When I was a kid my older sister loved this movie and watched it frequently. I was never allowed to watch it but I would catch glimpses of scenes and I caught the part where Granny warns Rosaleen about men whose eyebrows meet in the middle being werewolves. For a long time I would think every time I saw a man with a unibrow that he might be a werewolf. Maybe I still believe it a little.
*** 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.
This is one of those films that you either love or hate.
Depending on your personal taste, you will be either captivated by it or thoroughly bored. I happen to fit into the first category.
I must admit to having seen its video box for years and was completely turned off by it. I had been thinking, "Oh yuck, another 'gross out' werewolf movie."
So after discovering by accident what this movie was truly about (in the margin of a child's fairy tale book in my local Barnes and Noble!!!), I thought "I've got to see this."
And it wasn't easy to find.
But once I did, I was genuinely enthralled by the gorgeous and lovingly detailed backgrounds, the remarkable script and imagery. Think of this as "Little Red Riding Hood" goes "Eraserhead".
A thoroughly weird but wonderful little film that belongs in a secret classification all its own (along with such brilliant projects as "Head", "Eraserhead", "The Blair Witch Project" and the original "Haunting", to name a few) in which surrealistic suggestions, your brain and the power of your imagination rule the night.
In short, if you're looking for a run-of-the-mill 80s slasher flick then this movie is definitely NOT for you. If, on the other hand, you want to see a wonderful dark take on a traditional fairy tale then you will have a hard time making a better choice than this one!
One small note I wish to add: if you know about and/or raise real wolves like I do, you might find the scenes with them chasing others through the forest and bursting through the walls more funny than frightening. I say this because you know perfectly well how shy and gentle real wolves are, how completely opposite they are from European tradition as flesh and blood devils. But even so, you will enjoy watching those scenes anyway simply because its still fun to watch the cinematography of those gorgeous, fluffy little wolves running about all over the place with those huge smiles on their faces (they're obviously in a great mood and don't look the least bit vicious--I don't think I ever saw one of them actually snarl anywhere, just howl and smile).
Oh, and the "He Wolf" who ends up beating our red-hooded heroine home gives a genuinely stunning (but brief) performance. He's both disturbing and amusing to watch. He snarls. He writhes. He tempts and glares in the most sinister of ways, and he even sticks his tounge out to lick himself all over his own face doggy-style in ways that even Gene Simmons would envy----here's hoping the actor went on to receive acclaim in his career!
Okay, so I liked this one better than THE BEAST MUST DIE. It does have some nice dark, crisp visuals and a sense of scary illusions that any author of 18th-century novels would have been famous for. One humongous detail I must gripe about, though. Those "man-to-wolf" transformations look horrible. They appeared as if a taxidermist was involved in studio props, making this ruiningly unrealistic. Angela Lansbury offers a fine performance as an old woman telling the wolf story to the young girl (LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, anyone?). Feeling more as a "family" drama than a blood-curled horror film, it looks like it's suitable for just about everybody, which would make better sense. An ugly face tearing scene unfortunately gave it the "R" rating (and why??). Less focus on cheap special effects could've made THE COMPANY OF WOLVES worth a perfectly pleasant and chilling night beside the fire. Still not too bad, though.
electrifying,disturbing yet beautiful.OK, there are fantasy movies made
recently , and sure lots of special effects and all are made
wonderfully but they lack something that company of wolves have at
this movie so clever and dreamy at the same time. you feel like you enter a world of childhood dreams yet so scary. it is not a typical werewolf movie, not that i hate werewolf movies but this masterpiece( definitely!) has a lot to offer.
for those of you that had a lot nightmares during your childhood years will enjoy ultimately but anyone who has read or listened little red riding hood will feel joy and fear at the same time.
i really don't want to give any plot details more than i wrote above , it is clear that you can never define your nightmare correctly to other people. and yes, there are beautiful nightmares if you look into them deeply.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Neil Jordan is known by most of his fans as someone who makes dark films
that sometimes like to mix hidden eroticism into their plots[witness 'The
Crying Game' and 'Interview with a Vampire']. 'The Company of Wolves'
though, is probably the most obvious example in his entire work. Jordan
himself describes the film as a 'menstrual film' as it is really about a
young girl's sexual awakening. Beware horror fans, this isn't just another
gory werewolf flick.
Rosaline[Sarah Patterson]is a young girl of thirteen or fourteen living in a village in a forest that looks like it was designed by H.R. Giger.Her grandmother[Angela Lansbury] passes on fables and 'moral' stories to her granddaughter to teach her 'The laws of the wood.'Some of these stories speak of men whose 'eyebrows meet in the middle' and often turn into wolves. The film itself encompases these stories and they make up quite a large amount of the film. The stories are used to explain, in a subliminal manner, what is going on in the main story. Most of the stories have some sort of sexual undertone and flesh out the sexuality in the main story as Rosaline starts to hang around with a boy in the village[with an especially high-pitched voice]. A wolf begins to haunt the village and kills some of the cattle while Rosaline embarks on a journey through the woods to visit her grandmother...
The movie makes obvious references to 'Little Red Riding Hood': Rosaline wears a bright-red hood, she is walking through the woods to visit her grandmother, she meets a huntsmen in the woods whose eyebrows meet in the middle....The film is an example of what would happen if you added eroticism to 'Little Red Riding Hood' and made it 'R-Rated'. The wolf is really just a metaphor for her sexual awakening. The boy's high-pitched voice, and, for lack of a better word, 'randy' libido are a metaphor for 'The Lawlessnesws of men'' and the woods have a very sexual design, with womb-like portals and potholes. At the end, when Rosaline joins the 'Company of Wolves', it is like her acceptance of her sexuality. All this sensuality is mixed with very hypnotic atmosphere and visuals. The film is like a journey through puberty...
The first time I watched this film, I didn't like it. I thought it was muddled and didn't make sense. I caught it again on late-night t.v. I was captured in it's spell and surprisingly, even though the ending still wasn't crystal clear, I liked it. I think it is very hypnotic and the ways the stories are told are spellbinding. I especially like the last one:''Out of the depths of the earth, a she-wolf came...'' Jordan is now one of my favorite directors and I look forward when he returns to this territory.
''And that's all I'll tell you, because that's all I know.....''
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What am I doing giving a horror film 10/10. I must be out of my mind.
Well if you thought that, you couldn't be more wrong. Just watch the
film if you haven't already done so. This is no ordinary horror film.
In fact it's not a horror film, it's an allegory, it's the British
"Seventh seal". The seventh seal is an allegory about man's search for
the meaning of life and his continuous preoccupation with questions
there is no way (at least from my angle) he can answer, the company of
wolves is about realizing who you are, your sexuality, your desires and
most importantly the transition from adolescence to adulthood or the
"end of innocence".
Every bit of the movie is a symbol and to be precise, a Freudian symbol. The Freudian concept of unconscious motives is evident throughout the film. Rosaleen's large toys in the forest represent her innocence and a desire to remain that way, in other words the desire to regress back to the safe period of childhood, and not be an adult with urges.
Rosaleen's red cloak might seem like little red riding hood, and it is true it's taken from there but in this case it represents menstruation and not being a girl anymore but a woman. When the eggs hatch up on the birds nest, Rosalyn becomes acquainted for the first time with birth and the creation of life. The replacement of bird babies with human figurines is ingenious.
Finally the menacing wolves represent men and their domineering nature and predatory desire which Rosaleen will have to deal with now that she is a woman and a powerful creature herself. Therefore by fully developing into a sexual being she becomes a beast herself and that's what we are shown by her turning into a wolf.
All this is integrated brilliantly into the film ending with the wolves knocking down her toys thus ruining childhood. That's a thing of the past. Time passes inevitably as the clock shows us and it is time to change.
God bless Neil Jordan and Angela Carter for bringing this masterpiece to the big screen. If you haven't seen it I suggest you do so and even if you have watch it again! Just to remind yourselves what it was like making good movies. Remember "Never stray from the path!".
This movie is not realistic enough to be of good horror. The life in the village in the woods does not give a background for the story-telling. You don't have the folk-loric atmosphere of Grimm or the Irish or Flemish tales. The wolve-men are in between the humans and the beast and do not frighten us. The scene with the banquet is ridiculous. The young girl (Sarah Patterson) is good but I don't like her position, does she like the wolves or not. How her grandmother (Angela Lansbury) is killed is not believable. The fairy-tale of Angela Carter is not brought well, and the live in the wood with the animals is not frightening at all. Give me an old fairy-tale!
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