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The Company of Wolves
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The Company of Wolves (1984)

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Plot Summary:
"This movie is in fact a magical bag full of symbolic folklore about werewolves, or, rather, their sexual connotation. Grandmother Angela Lansbury tells her granddaughter Sarah Patterson strange, disturbing tales about innocent maidens falling in love with handsome, heavily eyebrowed strangers with a smouldering look in their eyes; about sudden disappearances of spouses when the moon is round & the wolves are howling in the woods; about babies found inside stork eggs, in a stork nest high up a tree; etc., etc. Of course the story of Little Red Ridinghood is also present, with a very handsome he-wolf!(And of course this he-wolf consumes Grandmother, but 'consumes' Little Red Ridinghood). All the stories are somehow reducable to loss of innocence, and fear of/hunger for (a newly acquired sense of) sexuality; their Freudian character is mirrored in their dreamlike shapes."

Reviewer: Andrew Rowat @horrorasylum
Location:Surrey, UK
Review Date: 20 November 2004 My Rating: out of 5


This British horror, made a few years after the likes of The Howling and An American Werewolf In London had made a splash, is something of a minor masterpiece. The film is unlike most werewolf movies and stands as a poetic outcast next to its more conventional cousins. Rather than wallow in gore, The Company Of Wolves displays a dream-like visual aspect and a desire to linger in its remote, ruralised past from whence most of these narratives were originally conceived.

The Company Of Wolves is more a beautiful meditation on werewolf tales and the sexual meanings that can be derived from them; an old granny (Angela Lansbury) tells her curious granddaughter (Sarah patterson) tales of men and women who change from the human forms into werewolves, these tales are always visualised and are often sad, rather than scary, showing the lycanthrope as the lonely, social outcast, cursed never to know love, etc...

This multinarrative device is clever way of playing on Angela Carter's penchant for the short story (the film is taken from her short story of the same name, which was only 10 pages!) Angela Carter wrote the script and it shows, her partiality for symbolism is evident: at one point Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) climbs a tree to find a nest of wild eggs that hatch to reveal small models of babies. The main story is never compromised by Angela Carter's digressions into other lycanthropic parables - and it helps that the main story is one we are all familiar with - Little Red Riding. But in Carter's revision of the tale, Riding Hood ends up losing her virginity to the wolf; this is, of course, only suggested - an element of Carter's prose which might find trouble with censorship laws if it was put on the screen as it was written...

Neil Jordan regular, Stephen Rea does a nice cameo as a frustrated werewolf who finds his wife with another man's kids. The rest of the cast are also on top form, with a marvellous granny from Angela Lansbury and, of course, the Yorkshire man who pops up in every film about rural Britain, Brian Glover. But it is Sarah Patterson who steals the show as the Red Riding Hood, Rosaleen, with her cheeks all blushed red, supposedly hinting at sexual awakening. She has a petulant air that never makes her unlikable and is also very pretty in that unique English way, it is no surprised they later cast her as Snow White. Patterson is the pure heart of the film, the young virgin who is warned of men who are princes outward, but on the inside are ravenous wolves.

A great rendition of the folklore from where most of our contemporary horror films emerged. This is a lovely British piece of horror that ought to consumed by every horror fan like the delicacy it is.

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