Friday, October 19, 2007
First of all, if you don't like seeing animals injured or killed - avoid this 1984 film. Not sure if the humane society approved this film or not, but between the wolves, a cow, some pigs, a couple of frogs, a goose and a peacock...not a creature seems to go unharmed. And then there's senior abuses suffered by Angela Lansbury, who appears here as a twisted version "Granny" from SYLVESTER & TWEETY rather than loveable Jessica Fletcher or sassy Auntie Mame.
Here's the story: the movie opens in present day. A young girl in bad Baby Jane make-up has a creepy collection of dolls and stuffed animals. She's having a dream that she's gone "into the woods," where her older sister has just been slaughtered by a company of wolves. After they bury sis, the girl goes to live with her Granny - who decides to cheer up the tyke by telling her tales about werewolves. Charming. It also appears that the girl has either travelled back in time or joined a Renaissance Faire.
In the first tale, a young groom is about to bed his new bride when he summoned by 'call of nature'. I guess he had to pee. He never returns. Men! Several years later, he returns looking like Tina Yothers from FAMILY TIES. The bride has since remarried and has kids. Angered by this development, he rips his flesh off and slowly transforms into his werewolf form (a very graphic - but incredible sequence), but is soon killed by husband number two. Whew!
Then there's a boring subplot about a flirty village boy. Zzzzzzzzzz....
In Granny's second story, a strapping young lad meets the Devil and his disturbingly made-up female chauffeur (who looks like Jon Benet Ransey - forcing us to wonder if her parents saw this film and decided that their daughter should look like this character). The devil gives the boy a potion, which he rubs onto his hairless chest - and suddenly blooms into puberty ...and beyond!
Later, Granny has made a Riding Hood for the girl, who we might as well call Red.
The horny village boy harasses Red again, causing her to climb a tree, where she finds a birds' nest with eggs that hatch tiny figurines of fetuses. Huh? Next we are treated to a scene of a mutilated cow. Huh?
While the villagers hunt down the wolf, Red tells her mother a story that Granny told her. This tale is about a wedding party where everyone is transformed into wolves. Fun!
Later Red's father returns after the villagers slay the cow-killing wolf. When he presents the wolf's paw, it has transformed into the hand of a man!!! Of course they chuck it into the fireplace! Wonder what THAT smelled like.
Soon it is winter and Red is off to Grandmother's house once again (presumably for a holiday visit). On the way she meets a huntsman with a unibrow. (Granny always warned her about guys with one brow!)
Once Red arrives at Granny's house, the huntsman has done away with Granny (in an amazing scene - sorry Rob Herrmann), and is taking her place. Sound familiar? There is a final encounter between Red and the Wolf...followed by another tale. This one is about a girl who looks like Chaka from LAND OF THE LOST.
I will not spoil the ending, since I highly recommend this film (despite the animal and Lansbury abuse). Directed by Neil Jordan (THE CRYING GAME), the film is gorgeously shot, and the sets and special effects are wonderful.
On the "Huh?' scale, I'll give it an 8 outta 10 because with it's mix of dreams, nightmares, stories within stories - it still gives you many reasons to scratch your head and ask "Huh?" Oh yeah, and Angela doesn't even get to sing! Wonder if Lucille Ball was behind that... (inside joke)