The Company of Wolves (1984)

the company of wolves poster 1984 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Interesting tying of the Red Riding Hood tale and budding sexuality

Not a horror movie, kind of generic werewolf transformations

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Company of Wolves

Studio: Palace Productions

Genre(s): Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): September 24, 1984

MPAA Rating: R

company of wolves angela lansbury sarah patterson

Grandma…your stories suck.

Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) is on the verge of adulthood and tortured by dreams of wolves, love, and lust.  Finding herself in a fairy tale forest, Rosaleen is warned by her grandmother (Angela Lansbury) of the danger of wolves after the death of her sister (Georgia Slowe).  Rosaleen is learning that wolves are everywhere…but it is the wolves who are hairy on the inside that will drag a woman to darkness.

Directed by Neil Jordan, The Company of Wolves adapts the 1979 short story of Angela Carter from her collection The Bloody Chamber.  Jordan and Carter helped write the adaptation, but also included themes from other stories of Carter.  The film received positive reviews from critics, but performed poorly at the box office.

I wanted to see The Company of Wolves when I was little because of the exciting poster which shows a girl (in little red riding hood guise) being menaced by a werewolf bursting from a man.  I didn’t see the movie until much later, but if I had seen it as a kid, I would have questioned what I was seeing…the movie despite being marked as a horror film isn’t really a horror film.

company of wolves rosaleen huntsman sarah patterson

Well, the wolves are full of wolves but I guess I can put all my instincts aside and trust you…right?

The movie is set in a dream, but contains mini-stories within the dream (which is kind of appropriate since dreams often work like that).  The themes are about change, becoming a woman, and the dangers of men.  It is tied to the Red Riding Hood tale and the loss of innocence (aka straying from path).  The whole movie is almost completely symbolic and not really what some might expect if they wanted a werewolf movie (but it is also smarter than most horror-themed movies).

The acting is very staged, but it is intentional.  The actors are presenting fairy tales which essentially are made of dialogue that is often unreal and basic.  The characters are meant to be stock characters (with maybe the exception of Sarah Patterson who is the dream’s dreamer).  Angela Lansbury plays the quintessential grandmother who tries to warn the children of the dangers of the world while David Warner, Stephen Rea, Terence Stamp, Jim Carter, and Brian Glover have supporting roles.

company of wolves transformation werewolf

Man…dog breath.

Visually, The Company of Wolves is quite amazing in capturing the dreamy, fairy tale world.  This was some a criticism of some who felt that the special effects like the wolves transformation scenes overshadowed the themes of the movie.  I like the fairy forest and the environment created by Jordan in the film which helps carry the themes.

The Company of Wolves isn’t for everyone.  It is however an interesting study of adulthood, the adaptation of fairytales, and how mythology of things like werewolves evolved in stories.  Having seen the movie multiple times now, I will say the film has grown on me and I enjoy its style.  It is a worthwhile film for fans of Jordan’s work and true fantasy-horror.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response