Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Day 04 - Your favorite werewolf film

I’m not going to lie; werewolves are not among my favorite horror monsters. There are a handful of werewolf flicks that I really dig (The Howling 1 and 2, Dog Soldiers, The Wolfman, American Werewolf in London) but overall they’re not really my cup of wolfsbane. That may explain why my pick isn’t strictly a werewolf movie. It’s a bizarre dreamworld fable, a Freudian parable, and a werewolf flick all in one. I speak, of course, of The Company of Wolves.

Basically, the film takes place in the dreams of a teenage girl named Rosaleen. Her grandmother, played by Angela Lansbury, tells her stories about wolves, which are thinly veiled warnings about men and sexual desire. The movie then almost becomes an anthology, with Rosaleen’s dreams forming vignettes, one of which is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. The film is atmospheric like few others have been. It looks like the sumptuously painted illustrations in an antique storybook come to life. The forest was created on a sound stage, just as the exteriors of many early Universal horror movies were, so it has the same bizarre feel to it. This look never lets us forget that we are in a dream, and neither does the logic. A Rolls Royce carrying Satan through an enchanted forest? That’s definitely dream logic. Unlike many other “dream” movies though, it’s not just weird imagery for the sake of weird imagery. It all fits into the context of the film and serves the metaphor at the heart of the film.

Throughout the movie werewolves are used as a metaphor for sexuality. This is by far not the only time lycanthropy has served as a stand in for a teenager’s awakening sexuality. Films such as the ridiculously overrated Ginger Snaps have been there, but it’s never been done better. Books have been written just about the symbolism in this movie, so I’m going to refrain from discussing that. What I will discuss, however, are two werewolf transformations that deserve to be mentioned alongside the best in cinema history, but are often unduly forgotten. They are both also notable for offering a twist on the old “body gets misshapen and hairy” transformation. In one, a man skins himself alive. Then a snout bursts out of the bloody muscle of the face, and slowly takes the form of a wolf. My description really can’t do this scene justice. The other isn’t even a man transforming into a werewolf as much as it is a wolf tearing his way out of a man. We’re talking flesh ripping fury here. The shot where the mans jaw dislocates and the wolf’s muzzle pushes through his mouth is my favorite image from and werewolf transformation EVER. Yes, that includes The Howling and American Werewolf in London.

This movie a fairy tale hallucination, offering up some of the most beautiful visuals and off kilter concepts in any genre. It is a thinking person’s horror flick, with some cool gore thrown in for good measure. Plus, how often do you get to see Angela Lansbury get decapitated? One word of warning though, this flick could be highly offensive to those with unibrows. Two hairy severed thumbs up. Nathan says check it out.

4 comments:

::Hardluck Joesephine.: said...

Dog Soldiers and Suprisingly, the first Underworld. I'm ALL about the transformation. If that's not gory enough, I don't care to see it.

fromhell13 said...

Dog Soldiers was indeed killer. Underworld didn't do it for me though, too much cgi, same thing that ruined the Wolfman remake.

WYLL A MINA said...

Really want to see 'The Company of Wolves' now. I'd never heard of it before this article, but am really interested in checking it out. Love Angela Lansbury, so I don't quite know how I ever missed this one.

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