I Saw A Film!

I remember watching this thing eagerly as a 19/20 year old and really hoping for a kind of werewolfish horror epic. In those days (the early 80s) we’d just gotten our hands on VHS capability and getting our hands on the latest crap monster films, or sexy damsel-in-distress productions (I was a horror movie nut) was greatly limited by what our local independent video rental shops managed to have on hand. I remember sort of liking the movie, but, when I was 20 it was much easier to fall in love with a film as, it took more to see a film. There was investment going in. If you only got one record a month to hear favorite musicians, and you had a turntable that had to be employed to listen, you listened. You really put time into things the way you might put time into building a deck on the back of your house, or the way you might hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.

All that to tell you that I didn’t seem to digest any of this fantasy movie. I didn’t remember, for example, the giant mushrooms, or that it looks as though it were mostly shot in a misty garage adorned with plants. Or that the film really seems less a storyline than a selection of acid-induced vignettes involving werewolfery (and wowolfery (the actual term for the female form)) went entirely unnoticed. Young Sarah Patterson (who did one more film before retiring) sleeps fully made up, prettily dreaming up (presumably) all this nearly monster-movie horror. And, of course, it all rather culminates in a favorite universal fairy tale of young woman approached/accosted and deflowered by cunning masculine desires . . . well maybe . . . if we choose to see it as a kind of metaphor for childhood lost and the ravages of adulthood, or as a kind of warning tale of unloving sexuality, who knows, but the imagery is not just impressed into us at an early age but endlessly toyed with by our culture. The most common variation being adult/sexy “red riding hood” often sold as costumes around Halloween. Lovely!

Rewatching this thing now I’m impressed with how devotedly fantasy rich it is, and how seamlessly the dream/real life sequences are melded together. I can’t really tell if we’re meant to take, as real-life, the death of the sleeping damsel’s sister “eaten by wolves” they say, but she looked pretty in her casket. I’m not even certain that granny’s stories were meant to be actually delivered by the Murder She Wrote lady in actuality or if even those were meant to be dreamed up, as when the wolf-boy seems to murder her, she’s apparently only one of the sleeping girl’s dolls (a ceramic head smashes).

The many sequences of running dogs, or dogs sitting around in 17th century attire having just transformed from a posh dinner party, are pretty amusing. I expect anyone who’s ever raised a dog would guffaw at some of these scenes. But some of the transformations are handled fairly well.

Does our version of Little Red get devoured by a Big Bad Wolf? I kind of felt like we were being endlessly teased with that expectation, and so put it aside while watching this thing. A much more recent Christina Ricci short variation of the theme involved perhaps the most unknown version of the old story in which the girl cons the wolf into letting her go outside and take a dump. Instead of going with her, he ties a string to her – silly wolf. But this isn’t that story, nor the one we were all raised with. I will say the film leaves much up to interpretation, and that young Sarah is gorgeous and so much more a kid than I recalled!

This is running for free on prime and if you enjoy fantasy or variations on well known fairy tales you’ll probably have a good time. Production values leave much to be desired. It seems they saved up for the big main transformation at the end. David Warner is the father character, and whenever he pops up I always think of him from bad sword and sorcery crap like Quest of the Delta Knights, or from Tron.

2 thoughts on “The Company of Wolves (1984)

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