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The Company of Wolves
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The Company of Wolves More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A beautifully crafted fairy tale

10/10
Author: ray-141 from Hong Kong
30 September 1999

A wonderful fantasy tale that I only saw many years after its release due to reading unfavourable reviews - there is a moral there: take no notice of film critics!

The dream-like sets create a claustrophobic fairy tale ambiance. Angela Lansbury is excellent as the wise old grandmother telling creepy tales of wolves to the impressionable Rosaleen, played by the delightful Sarah Patterson who I have never seen in anything else since unfortunately.

Special effects date very quickly and the effects used in this film are no exception, but this does not detract from the film.

The screenplay has been beautifully adapted from a short story by Angela Carter from her excellent collection 'The Bloody Chamber'. The complex and highly descriptive prose of the original story - itself a re-interpretation of 'Little Red Riding Hood'- makes it difficult to transfer to the screen but this succeeds superbly well and is a deeply satisfying film to watch and is worth repeated viewings to take it all in.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie! one of my favorites!

Author: anonymous from ohio
29 March 1999

Excellent fantasy movie based on The Little Red Riding Hood story about a young girl and her encounters with werewolves. The cast is great as is the direction scenery and music by George Fenton. One of my all time favorites! Why hasn't Sarah Patterson who played rosaleen been in more movies? She is great! Angela Lansbury is perfect in her part as the wise old grandma who warns Rosaleen about werewolves. Not really a horror movie more of a fantasy. Higly recommended!!!!!!!!!!!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Something beautiful and charming I've seen one day...

Author: (levas@pub.osf.lt) from Lithuania
5 March 1999

I liked this film very much. It's not like every usual horror film. It's mysterious and thoughtful, it makes me think about This World. Here everything is made with some kind of secret that always surrounds us. They are here in the dark forest, they are there behind your door and window, they are everywhere. Do not lose your way in the forest. Keep your feet on it.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Freudian Fairy Tale

8/10
Author: Hammerfanatic46 from United Kingdom
16 February 2015

I watched "The Company of Wolves" yesterday, only my second viewing in thirty years, and was delighted at how absorbing it remains. Passing the test of time, it is as fresh as ever .

The Movie is not quite a Horror film, but inhabits the realm of Fantasy Cinema, a genre which has always shared a porous border with horror.

"Wolves" weaves an intriguing tapestry of folklore and Freudian psychology as it links the dark, but sensual ,Grimm's fairy tales to adolescent fantasies and sexual anxieties, framed in a narrative which is a story, within a story, within a story, wrapped in a dream. In doing so, it takes us deeper into Hammer's dark woods and bucolic Gothic imagery.

Thematically, it strays far from Hammer, but aesthetically, it is firmly rooted in the British Gothic tradition. Not only does it's pastoral setting , secluded village and menacing atmosphere recall the mood of Hammer's best productions, but the cinematography and even the opening titles, are suggestive of Hammer influences.

Admittedly, some of the visual effects leave much to be desired to the modern viewer. I am no great fan of CGI, but perhaps the film would have been enhanced ,under Neil Jordan's restrained eye, by SFX that belonged to the 21st Century rather than the era of "An American Werewolf in London" .

Having said that, "The Company of Wolves" is an intellectual and visual treat, which will reward repeat viewing . It certainly won't be three decades before I venture into it's enchanted forest once again.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Rich with Mythic Meaning

8/10
Author: Bonehead-XL from United States
17 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Neil Jordan could never be considered your typical horror filmmaker. He's most well known for his thrillers, frequently set among the beautifully photographed Irish countryside. The director has, on occasion, dabbled in the genre: The supernatural farce "High Spirits," the romantic "Interview with a Vampire," the Freudian psycho-horror of "The Butcher Boy," the botched mainstream thriller "In Dreams," most recently the immensely satisfying undead character study "Byzantium." Near the beginning of his career, however, he created one of the oddest werewolf movies ever made, as far as you could get from a typical horror film, the gorgeous, allegorical "The Company of Wolves."

Adapted from Angela Carter's book of feminist fairy tale reimagings, the film's stories are told through several framing devices. In the modern day, a young girl has locked herself away from her family in her room, suffering from cramps presumably brought on by her first menstruation. She dreams of living in a vaguely medieval village. In the dream, her wise grandmother tells her stories of men becoming wolves. One tale involves a disappeared husband returning to his wife in a most unexpected way, another about a boy meeting the devil. Soon, Rosaleen herself has become the story teller, telling tales of wolves at a wedding and a she-wolf, before the stories seem to invade both her dreaming life and her waking life.

"The Company of Wolves" is fraught with allegory. The film mostly concerns itself with a young girl coming into adulthood, with men and their sexual appetites represented as wolves. In the dream, Rosaleen's older sister has been killed by a wolf. The developing young girl is soon being courted by the neighbor's boy, who urges her to step off the path and kiss him. She doesn't seem much interested and rebukes his advances. At night, she awakens to see her parents making love, an act which seems to confuse and intrigue her. The movie directly confronts the Little Red Riding Hood story in its last act. While on the way to Grandmother's house, Rosaleen meets a charming huntsman. The two flirt openly, the girl obviously attracted to the predatory man. Carter combines the original fable's sexually voracious Big Bad Wolf with the heroic, positively masculine huntsman, not distinguishing between "good" or "bad" sexuality. Once at the house, upon realizing he's a wolf, Rosaleen cast her red hood into the fire, an act heavy with symbolic importance. The ending turns the tables, the young girl taking control over the wolf. Considering the entire movie has associated wolves with wanton sexuality, the ending blatantly implies a girl becoming a woman, embracing sex on her own terms.

Though "The Company of Wolves" is never a typical horror picture, Neil Jordan and his team create some striking, horrifying images. An early moment has Rosaleen stepping through a giant version of her bedroom, her childhood toys transformed into menacing figures. The first werewolf transformation, a man tearing his flesh off to reveal the wolf underneath, is startling and graphic. A wedding party morphing into a pack of wolves is similarly unsettling, the twisted faces reflected in a broken mirror. The best moment comes near the end, the huntsman falling to the ground, contorting, his skin bulging, a wolf bursting from his human flesh. It's hard to say if gore hounds will have the patience for a movie as surreal as "The Company of Wolves" but I suspect they'd truly appreciate moments like these.

Of course, Jordan's images entrance as much as they disgust. The movie's loose, dream-like tone allows the director to create surreal, unforgettable moments. The girl in the red hood scales a tree in the forest, finding a bird's nest full of eggs. She smears on lipstick before the eggs hatch, revealing weeping statues of infants. The implications of sexual awakening and motherhood are fine but the strangeness of the image is far more likely to stick with the viewer. Most memorably, a major character is decapitated, their head flying away and shattering like a porcelain doll. The final tale-within-the-tale is about a female wolf climbing out of a well, an intoxicatingly gorgeous segment that is rich with mythic meaning. Smaller moments shine, like a book full of spiders or a white rose blooming into a red one, each full of symbolic importance.

The cast is filled out with experienced character actors like Angela Lansbury, who is excellent, and David Warner, as well as Jordan regular Stephen Rea. However, Sarah Patterson truly fascinates in the lead role. Her Rosalen is a lovely young girl and Patterson is all too willing to play the part's complexity. The film's interior world is too complicated for Rosaleen to be a simple heroine. Instead, Patterson plays the part with the richness the material demands. The actress has few credits after this which is truly a shame. I would have loved to seen more of her.

From George Fenton's lush score, to Anton Furst's intricate production design, to Bryan Loftus' gorgeous cinematography, "The Company of Wolves" is a fascinating and dark reinvention of classic fairy tales. You could read into the movie's rich subtext or simply let the images wash over you. Either way, you're unlikely to forget it.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

And that's all I'll tell you cause that's all I know

7/10
Author: utgard14 from USA
18 January 2014

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.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The REAL telling of Little Red Diding Hood

Author: chuckl45 from Lambertville, NJ
11 December 2004

I have read that the Brothers Grimm wrote some very horrifying stories that were later turned into "Fairy Tales".....such as this. It IS a story about werewolves. And this movie makes it so. Please, read an older version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales......they aren't really made for children. They also wrote about dragons, vampires, witches, trolls, etc. All based on legend and folklore. Isn't ALL legend and folklore based somewhat on fact?? Twisted or not, there is some substance of fact in the old folklores and legends. Who knows, maybe Lord of the Rings is REALLY true! Nevermind, I've read TOO much about J.R.R.Tolkien........he made it all up.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Nice to see again.

Author: stevejsmith3 from Washington, DC
26 October 2002

I just saw this for only the 3rd time on the Independent Film Channel this morning (6 AM!). I'm glad to see it is out on DVD, as I will have to add it to my list.

I first saw this in the mid-80's, either on cable or rented. Having already seen An American Werewolf in London and The Howling (and I liked both) this was a nice surprise. I could tell early on from the sets and music that this was of a different ilk. It was wonderful for the many reasons that have been stated here--layers of meaning, symbolism, its allegorical bent--and, alas, I couldn't afford to buy it at the time.

For some reason it became very difficult to find in the shops, and finally two years ago I came across it (already started) late one night on TV. Again I was charmed by its unusual spell. After this morning, I checked the comments here again (it had been awhile) and wanted to add mine to the list.

I love the cast, mostly unfamiliar, and yet even Warner and Lansbury were welcome. He a bit warmer and more fragile than usual, and she adding some ditsiness to complement her sagacity. Rosaleen was super, reminding me at times of Helena Bonham Carter, Wynona Rider, and Jennifer Jason Leigh (all in early roles), but clearly her own self. I want to check out Interview...Vampire to see if the Huntsman displays the same kind of duality (good looking/deadly dangerous) that he does here. The sets might be out of an opera or ballet. Fun for the eyes. And I don't mind the effects/transformations. I still like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, and Harryhausen's tricks, so I can handle less than state-of-the-art effects. I've seen too many super effects with no story in recent years to realize what empty calories they can truly be.

I certainly wouldn't classify this as horror, and those looking for such are likely to be disappointed. But as a dark fantasy, peeling away the facade of a familiar fairy tale, it can be enjoyed many who enjoy the type, or are open to something different. I'm glad to see there are so many others who like it!

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Queen of Gothic

10/10
Author: Curtis Bittle (bittlecurtis@hotmail.com) from Texas
4 February 2002

Here is a complex but not confusing film of related stories set within a marvelously atmospheric dream, within the less orderly dreams of a young girl in a modern setting. The movie is sensual, sometimes gory, yet always beautiful, and has a grand haunting romance. There are not really any other films like this. This is a film about the sublime. It is not a horror film as much as it is a Gothic, written by a professional writer with a gift for the marvelous. Seldom does a gifted writer's vision come to light in fantasy (or horror), almost never a living author with real talent. She did not get another chance, but she left something with the one she had.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

One of my favourite films of all time.

10/10
Author: peter goddard (streetsofla@hotmail.com) from Hampshire, England
29 January 2001

"Little Red Riding Hood" is a story loved and appreciated by most children all around the country. But never before has it been presented in this manner. Neil Jordan's "In the Company of Wolves" is a splendid film that blends symbolism, excellent performances, and fine art direction to create an extremely entertaining and intellectual piece of work. ~P~ One of the most fascinating aspects of "The Company of Wolves" is it's symbolism. The film's tie with Little Red Riding Hood-- especially the wolves--combine too create an allegory for adolescent sexual awakening and mature, beastlike sexual nature. The film is sprinkled with references, outright and hidden, to support this theme. Other scattered images prove to promote reflection on their meanings, something many films today do not even attempt. Performances in the film are also a treat. Angela Lansbury especially stands out as Granny, a world-wise woman with a tongue spilling wisdom, drivel, and humor. The other knock-out performance is that of Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen (Little Red Riding Hood). She emits a cool knowing of her budding sexuality and slowly grows until she is ready to embrace the forbidden territory of passion. The art direction of the film--costumes, sets, images--all contribute to its excellence. The costumes are all very period, and Rosaleen red cape seems to have even more special significance here (do we detect more symbolism?!?).The setting is very unique, a combination of surrealism, Disney, and the medieval period. The scattered images in the film--especially the ending--raise it high above many films available today. "The Company of Wolves" is a fascinating film chock full of Freudian symbolism, dazzling art, and winnign performances. If you aren't afraid to think a little bit about the pictures flashing before your eyes, you owe to yourself to hop to the local video store and rent this film...you wil NOT be disappointed!

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