The 1984 film The Company of Wolves is essentially a horror fairy tale with a moral message; men are not pigs—they’re big hairy werewolves! Beware, or their evil testosterone will be the death of you! No wonder I hated this movie when I was a teenager.
I must admit, there are some great gory and painful looking werewolf transformations for the horror hound and loads of gothic atmosphere, but the movie is much deeper than your usual 80s werewolf classic. It’s loaded with sexual metaphors and is a bizarre combination of a dream, a fairy tale, and a horror anthology.
In modern times, a teen named Rosaleen has a dream—that makes the remainder of the film a period piece! Okay. Another reason I hated this back when I was a kid. In her dream, her sister is killed by wolves. In the days surrounding the funeral, Rosaleen spends time with her grandmother, played by Angela Landsbury. And man, does granny hate men! She begins to fill Rosaleen’s head with stories of women giving into their sexual desires only to find the men they lust after are werewolves!
The weird thing about the film that may turn many off is the choppy format. So Rosaleen is dreaming. Now her grandmother is telling her stories in the dream. In the meantime, it keeps cutting back to clips of Rosaleen tossing and turning in bed as she’s dreaming. And even when a story Angela Landsbury is telling becomes the focus of what the audience is watching, it keeps getting interrupted by clips of Angela telling it! And in-between Angela’s stories, there’s a whole other narrative going on involving Rosaleen’s friendship with a persistent young man who has the hots for her. No wonder granny is telling her men are wolves!
And to add even more confusion to the flow of the film, the final story is told to another character by Rosaleen. It’s so obvious why my young teenage ADHD mind couldn’t absorb this one. And once Rosaleen’s final story ends, she wakes…only to find that the wolves from her sexual dreams are jumping through her bedroom window into the real world. I hope they ate her after the credits rolled, because if not, she’s so going to turn out to be a lesbian.
If you focus and don’t get lost in all the shifting narrative perspectives, this is a collection of great little dark werewolf stories. It’s also loaded with trippy imagery. There’s a whole “Red Riding Hood” scenario…with the blood red hood eventually coming off and getting really hot and bothered (in a fire) after Rosaleen meets a virile young stud.
There are frogs everywhere, and if only Rosaleen would kiss one instead of chasing after bad boy wolves in the woods, she’d find her Prince Charming. Rosaleen comes across a stork’s nest and the eggs begin to hatch—and inside are little porcelain, human babies that bear a striking resemblance to the baby Jesus. When a she-wolf appears in the last story, she is penetrated by a bullet from a man’s gun and begins to bleed…onto pure white rose petals that turn red. This movie could be the basis for a whole college sexuality course.
The smart stuff aside, I also loved the varying werewolf transformations; they are uniquely different and gruesome in every story. I love when granny confronts the big bad wolf and he perversely flicks his big long tongue at her.
And it’s always the men who strip down due to their inability to control their libidos.
And the icing on the cake? The she-wolf in the last story of this fascinating werewolf flick is played by Danielle Dax, who some may know for her late 80s club hit “Whistling for His Love.”