Release Date: September 15th, 1984 (Toronto Festival of Festivals)
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Angela Carter, Neil Jordan
Based on: a short story by Angela Carter
Music by: George Fenton
Cast: Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Micha Bergese, Sarah Patterson, Stephen Rea, Terence Stamp (uncredited)
Palace Productions, ITC, Cannon, 95 Minutes
Admittedly, I have never gotten around to seeing The Company of Wolves until very recently. It is a movie that I have known about since around the time it came out. I just never got around to seeing it and forgot about it. Recently, some friends of mine were discussing it and it made me seek it out.
I was already familiar with the gore level of the film. I had seen the werewolf transformations in other places. So from a visual standpoint, I knew that this was a very violent and adult version of the Little Red Riding Hood tale.
The movie is directed by Neil Jordan, who would later go on to do The Crying Game, Interview With A Vampire and Breakfast On Pluto. He has always been a hit or miss director for me but those hits are usually pretty damn good.
The Company of Wolves has a pretty solid cast. There is Angela Lansbury as the grand mother of Rosaleen a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood. Of course she lives in a cottage in the woods. You also have Neil Jordan favorite Stephen Rea in a small role and David Warner as the father to Rosaleen. Rosaleen is played by Sarah Patterson and she does a fine job. Terence Stamp is in the film in an uncredited role as “The Devil”. Most importantly, Micha Bergese is perfect as the huntsman character. He is magical and absolutely terrifying when the time comes.
The best thing about this movie is the special effects and the set design. Although, the cinematography is a bit weak for the visuals one will encounter in this picture. The creature effects and the transformation of the people into wolves is absolutely amazing and beautiful in all its gore-ridden glory. The atmosphere of the film, especially the woods, is mesmerizing. The only problem is that the lighting and camera work feels a bit cheap and out of tune.
Unfortunately, the rest of this film falls into the negative spectrum.
To start, the opening credits looked horrendous. The typeface was hard to read and this was only magnified by the moving wave-like gradient effect used on the text. It started this film off on a real amateurish tone.
The script was a mess. It was hard to tell what was going on from scene-to-scene. A lot of the movie was nonsensical and strange for the sake of being strange. It is worth noting that the entire film was a dream sequence but that is no excuse for allowing your picture to become so surreal that the audience never knows quite where they’re at. Maybe that was the intention of the filmmakers but if that’s so, it was really stupid. The way the film ends is even worse than everything preceding it and it makes the entire movie absolutely and utterly pointless from a narrative standpoint.
The movie is also littered with really irritating characters, most notably the awful teenage boy that was pining over Rosaleen. She’ll never go for you, dude. You look like a curly-haired worm and you’re missing one of your front teeth.
The Company of Wolves had a few positives but was greatly outweighed by the negatives. It is worth a watch because it is visually pleasing but it is hard to make much sense out of most of it.