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Originally published March 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM | Page modified March 10, 2011 at 10:10 AM

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If you enjoyed 'Red Riding Hood,' Scarecrow suggests 'The Company of Wolves,' 'Ginger Snaps,' 'Amer'

Horror and fantasy films have frequently taken on as their subtext the psychosexual development of young women. The paradigm for this sort of thing goes all the way back to "Little Red Riding Hood," the fairy tale (some might say folk tale, for the sake of accuracy) that most associate with the Brothers Grimm but which is significantly older.

Horror and fantasy films have frequently taken on as their subtext the psychosexual development of young women. The paradigm for this sort of thing goes all the way back to "Little Red Riding Hood," the fairy tale (some might say folk tale, for the sake of accuracy) that most associate with the Brothers Grimm but which is significantly older. The story of a young girl menaced by a hungry wolf couldn't be a more obvious allegory, which is probably why it's been continuously revamped and retold throughout the centuries.

The latest version of this, "Red Riding Hood," is poised to hit theaters this weekend, and it's a more tween-friendly, "Twilight" influenced iteration. It's even directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who helmed the original K-Stew vampire extravaganza. This new film stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular character, whom we imagine (spoiler alert) makes a potentially unfortunate decision to take a solo trip through the woods to Grandma's House.

Back in 1984, director Neil Jordan (probably most well-known for writing and directing 1992's "The Crying Game,") brought us his version of the story, "The Company of Wolves." It's admittedly a pretty thematically complex rendition, but most importantly it's one of the earliest to make the Big Bad Wolf character an actual werewolf, and it also diverts significantly from tradition by making the Big Bad Werewolf a much more sympathetic character. But, at least for this writer, the real reason to catch this one is the lush production design and cinematography, not to mention the werewolf transformation effects, done completely practically with puppets, makeup and trick photography like "An American Werewolf In London" before it. The film contains multiple interwoven stories that intersect thematically, making it a bit more convoluted than it maybe should be, but for horror fans it's a really interesting stepping stone in the evolution of this particular subgenre.

Sticking with the werewolf / female sexual awakening line, you might want to take a look at 2000's "Ginger Snaps," which is a bit more of a straight up monster movie. Two sisters decide to play a prank on a girl they dislike but wind up attacked by a beast who turns one of them into a werewolf (but not until the girl has her first period...let's just say the metaphor is a tad obvious here).  This Canadian film has attracted quite a following on home video, spawning a sequel and a prequel. Although it isn't the most nuanced telling of this sort of story, it does make for an more thoughtful and entertaining take on the werewolf genre than we're normally used to, and we're always willing to give a movie points for trying something different.

But if different and challenging is what you're into, and you're looking for a truly unique spin on the genre's use of the psychosexual coming-of-age tale, look no further than "Amer," a Belgian film from last year that traces the life of a girl from childhood to adulthood and frames her development in the context of about 40 years of Italian exploitation cinema. Hardcore aficianados of such things will delight in a meticulously realized homage to the works of filmmakers like Mario Bava, Tinto Brass, Lucio Fulci and Sergio Martino. What's more, the film is almost a pure visual exercise, containing at most about 10 lines of dialogue total (spoken in French, but it's completely understandable even without translation). Amer was one of the most underseen foreign gems from 2010, and it's definitely the most interesting take on the theme's we've written about here that we've seen in a very long time.

Until next week!

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