A fantastic Friday it is my dear Fiendish Fans! This week I am on a frightful fairytale kick! I love dark takes on the classics, which in classic truth were pretty dark indeed. If you are fans of The Brother’s Grimm, you know that the real stories were full of awesomely icky imagery, and these 2 flicks pay homage to those bedtime stories for bad little kiddies. So get snug my dears, and let ol’ Ruby guide you down a perilous path with not one, but two tales that are not for the little ones.
First up we have seven Miners, a dwarf, a Princess, and one very bad apple, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Let me start by saying that I may be a little biased on the freaky front, Sigourney Weaver has always given me the heebees, even when she isn’t cooking up a little hearty heart pie. I’m sure she is a perfectly lovely lady in life, but on the screen she just makes me shiver, which makes her the perfect choice to play the part of the Evil Queen/Wicked Step Mother, Lady Claudia Hoffman in Snow White. Playing the lead in this fearsome fable in the role of Lilli Hoffman (aka Snow White) is the cherubic faced Monica Keena, who looks the striking part, with coal black hair and pale white complexion. Lilli is the apple of her Father’s eye, after the unfortunate demise of her Mother in a freak carriage accident, in which dear daddy had to literally cut her newborn baby self from the dying corpse of his beloved. To be King one must be strong and muddle through somehow, right? So he does what any King sans male heir would do, he takes another Wife, and just like that the stars in daddy’s eyes are stolen. Oh wait…that’s not how the story goes. If it went that way, then perhaps it would be Step Mum scarfing down poisoned apples.
There are some stunning visual elements in this version of the fairytale classic, Directed by Michael Cohn, once you get past the dated feel (though made in 1997, it still has a bit of seventies flare. I blame the hair stylist). This rendition has by far the best ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’, set inside a creepy cabinet with clasping hands. There is a great ambiguity in the film on whether the Queen was just evil to begin with, or if it was the mirror that preyed upon her weakness, grief and vanity, driving her insane. Either way, everyone suffers. I felt particularly sorry for the King though, who is played by Sam Neill. To say the least, he just isn’t lucky in love. Cohn breaks free from the black and white, adding complexities to Lady Hoffman’s character, and going darker places than even the Grimms would go. I think the story could go even farther were it done again today, but this version definitely rates as a Fiendish Flick.
The next little bedtime story I have for you is the 1984 movie The Company of Wolves, Directed by Neil Jordan. Let me start off by saying that this flick is a bevy of bizarre ideas, mixing the notion of innocence lost with carnal carnage, and a little red cloak. Oh yeah, and did I mention the werewolves? Those who know me, know that I’m a sucker for werewolves and avant garde imagery, and this flick is chock full of both, making it wickedly weird and wonderful to a morbid movie maven like myself.
The film starts off in the dreaming head of a young girl named Rosaleen, played by Sarah Patterson, who in her waking life is nagged by her real world wicked Stepsister that sees her as nothing but a “pest..pest…pest.” In the world of her dreams though, her Sister is but a tragic footnote, leading her to a stay at Grandma’s house and the true beginning of our fractured fable.
Angela Lansbury plays dear ol’ Granny, who gives off more of a creepy Uncle vibe throughout. She imparts upon our Little Red wise words, “The worst kinds of wolves are hairy on the inside.” A lesson that those of us without creepy Grannies must learn on our own. Alongside Lansbury in this film are Stephen Rea, David Warner, and (Zod himself!) Terence Stamp as the devil. All lending to the craziness of this strange little story.
I recommend watching this with friends, if for nothing else their bewildered reactions. What big eyes they’ll have, trust me. Made in the bygone era of practical effects alone, it winds up being pretty funny, even if that wasn’t the filmmaker’s intent. It should rank among the best B cult flicks, begging to be MST3K‘ed.
Before you are tucked in tight ghouls and boys, I’ll leave you with one more word of wisdom from Grandma, “Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple, and NEVER trust a man whose eyebrows meet.” (They just might be a werewolf).
Nighty night my diabolical darlings. -Ruby