Running With the Wolves
The Company of Wolves
By Jessica Dwyer
Over 30 years ago this year a film was released that defied the conventions of what is a horror film and what is a fairy tale. The Company of Wolves is a mixing of genres, stories, and metaphor. It’s beautiful and is sheened with that soft other worldness that all of the great 80’s fantasy films had.
Directed and co-written by Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves is told via a fables and the dreams of a sleeping teenage girl. There’s more than just a Red Riding Hood story here, there are stories of wronged women, the dangers of marrying the wrong man, and how your true nature will always come to the fore.
Of course there is the story of Little Red Riding Hood, represented by the young woman who’s dreaming of a life in a village deep in the woods. It is there she must face who or what she is after meeting a handsome stranger in the woods.
The Company of Wolves is perhaps one of my favorite werewolf films. Jordan and his crew created a surreal world and unique movie with this collection of tales. The film is beautiful and Micha Bergese as The Huntsman is a stunning figure even before his transformation. In fact, I would say The Huntsman’s transformations is one of the most awesome werewolf metamorphosis ever filmed (it’s also got one of the coolest movie posters ever.)
I think there may be a large number of horror fans and fantasy film lovers who have never gotten the chance to see this movie and that’s a shame. It’s hard to find on DVD and Blu Ray in the states but if you can find it I highly recommend it. It’s a fantastic throwback to classic Hammer Horror fare and is a special piece of cinema. You can see the influence on Jordan’s return to the horror world in Interview with a Vampire as well as Byzantium.
But Wolves holds a special place in my heart. It’s got a haunting beauty about it and visuals that will stick with you (a severed head in a bucket of milk, aristocrats turning into ravenous wolves among some of them.) To add to the fairy tale feel it even has Angela Lansbury perfectly cast as the grandmother, a sort of twisted nod to Disney.
The film has metaphors a plenty of course as the tale of Red Riding Hood does as well. But Jordan’s take on it is done in such an artistic way and one that manages to keep the horror element intact. It doesn’t shy away from the blood and the horror but it keeps it somehow as equally lovely as the rest of the film. Practical effects in the movie are amazing and the quality of them is also amazing as the movies budget was just over two million dollars.
So if you can find it I can’t say enough about The Company of Wolves. Watch it again if you’ve seen and if you haven’t you owe it to yourself to see this meshing of genres and stories. It’s a dark fairy tale of blood, fangs, and straying from the path.