The Company of Wolves (1984)

Angela Carter… So much to answer for. I first read The Bloody Chamber in 1987 as a young teen, exactly the right time to discover her voluptuous, gory, evocative prose. Her descriptions of sex, death, circuses, films, literature and the theatre were vivid and lucid, patently original. Without het, I question if Guillermo del Toro, Tim Burton, AS Byatt and countless writers, bands and film directors would have created work falling between fantasy , allegory and horror. She was unique and dazzling.

So it was with Neil Jordan’s wickedly suggestive and gory adaptation of The Company of Wolves. 1984 had a strange film industry then, with plenty of grim realism, but not much Brothers Grimm tinged stuff. Of course, Terry Gilliam was the exception. But Carter, who co -created the film, brought a feminine, feminist sensibility to the tired tropes of fairytales.

Rife with imagery (eggs cracking open to symbolise menstruation, the path in the forest for virginity) there were worlds within worlds. Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen was a new kind of heroine- unafraid, in control and fully aware of her burgeoning sexual allure as a fourteen year old, even when learning about “the wolves that lurk in men”, according to her creepy, insidious grandmother (the late Angela Lansbury).

The result was a film as beautiful as it was disturbing. Okay, the special effects seem particularly creaky by today’s standards, but the lush cinematography and brilliant cast render the film compelling and timeless. I was corrupted, but grateful. Carter understood the vagaries of girlhood like few others, and the fine line between innocence and desire. George Fenton’s masterful soundtrack is still stunning too, right up there with Suspiria, Halloween and The Shining.

What could be better viewing this Samhain? It’s as dark as claret. Little Red Riding Hood was never the same again. Thank you Carter and Jordan for the inspiration.

Published by loreleiirvine

I'm a freelance arts monkey. Come see my brain vomit.

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