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The Company of Wolves – 7

Director – Neil Jordan

Cast – Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Stephen Rea, Kathryn Pogson, Georgia Slowe, Micha Bergese

Release Year – 1984

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I first learned of this piece while researching the goriest scenes in horror history, and after viewing the film’s premier transformation scene I decided that I HAD to see this as soon as I could. For many years I have enjoyed director Neil Jordan’s work in the horror genre and the other genres he has taken part in. Despite him doing a great job with the vampire sub-genre (Interview with the Vampire) I had not heard much about this werewolf piece, and I am glad that he excelled in it. Coming with a storyline filled with both horror and fantasy stemming from a popular tale, The Company of Wolves was a very enjoyable experience to me that consisted of numerous elements that kept me marveling visually at what Neil Jordan delivered onscreen.

When her sister is savagely killed by a wolf plaging her hometown, young Rosaleen is sent to live with her grandmother while her parents mourn her sister. Her grandmother tells her old stories of the werewolves that lurk in the nearby wolves and prey on those who “stray from the path”, stories that Rosaleen will soon learn are still alive in the current day.

The story comes based on the one of the same name written by Angela Carter in her short story collection The Blood Chamber. She co-wrote this screenplay with Neil Jordan herself, marking her debut in screenwriter and the fourth of Neil Jordan’s career (including a TV movie). Those of you familiar with the Red Riding Hood story will see many resemblances to the famed tale, consisting of allegorical references to werewolves and, most importantly, their sexual nature along with the results of sexual deviance. While this flick qualifies as a horror film I personally feel that it is much more fantasy than horror. There are of course scenes of horror – even some of fantastic horror – but in the end this is about the loss of innocence more than werewolves munching on English men and women. There were several scenes that left me bewildered as to why the story would head that direction, but I am left to assume that is how original writer Angela Carter wished to adapt her work and I will just let you see them for yourself to avoid spoilers.

While the story is fantastic and unlike most “horror” films from the 1980s, it was Neil Jordan’s direction that really lead to my enjoyment of this experience. From the get-go he throws us into absolutely perfect atmosphere for such a film, even stating that he was heavily influenced by Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death – something I very much believe given the similar and incredible atmosphere of both films. In addition to his great sets he also achieved great performances from all of the actors involved, especially the young Sarah Patterson in her debut acting role as Rosaleen. I must also mention and give much applause to Angela Lansbury, one of my favorite actors to watch while growing up thanks to “Murder, She Wrote”, as Rosaleen’s storytelling granny. Despite all of these great elements of the film I must say that the absolute best thing The Company of Wolves has to offer are its transformation scenes, namely the very first one to take place. This scene has to be one of the greatest scenes of horror I have ever seen, and makes my Top 3 in werewolf transformations. Whatever the rest of the film lacked in horror, it made up for with those (insert number of seconds) glorious seconds.

Overall, The Company of Wolves is a film I would recommend so long as you know what you are getting into: a flick with more fantasy than horror. The writing is solid and Jordan’s direction is superb, and with the few scenes of horror being as amazing as they were I will say this is worth a watch just for those scenes alone.

Rating: 7/10

  1. mikey
    June 19, 2012 at 7:42 am

    haha wow i just saw this last night, man i swear every time i look at your site it always turns out you review a flick i just saw….

    am i you?
    are you i?

    …im scared

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