Recently I clicked on a You Tube preview of a new movie called Little Red Riding Hood. Imagine my surprise when I realized it couldn’t be added to children’s DVDs at ICPL! For this is a dark version directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Who created the first installment of the Twilight film series. Sure enough, their version of the fairy tale promises to be a spooky, romantic thriller. Where the Big Bad Wolf is actually a werewolf stalking a gothic-looking village. Which in turn must be saved by a gorgeous grownup Red Riding Hood played by Amanda Seyfried. All I can say is don’t show this movie to your kids, especially before bedtime!
Little Red Riding Hood was the inspiration for both director Neil Jordan’s 1984 film In the Company of Wolves and the 2005 psycho-sexual thriller Hard Candy (rated R and starring a young Ellen Page.) As well a disturbing short black and white film from 1997 called Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories (starring the ever-mysterious Christina Ricci.) Another film where Ms. Hood can be found is The Brothers Grimm (a PG-13 supernatural flick from 2005.) She and the Big Bad Wolf have even graced our radio and television airwaves – for example, in this timeless ditty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JOwxnVoG6Q
Other classic fairy tales have also been made into horror films intended for older audiences. Renowned actress Sigourney Weaver once starred in a 1997 horror film called Snow White: a Tale of Terror. That tiny terror of fairy tales, Rumpelstiltskin, turned up to torment a Los Angeles mother and babe in a 1996 movie with the byline “where the fairy tale ends, the nightmare begins!” Jean Cocteau’s unforgettable 1946 classic, Belle et la Bete retells the story of Beauty and the Beast in exquisitely beautiful black and white imagery. And the Beast also will appear in a romantic supernatural movie called Beastly to be released next summer.
Though often ending with “they lived happily ever after,” the truth is traditional fairy tales have always had an element of horror in them. And that both scary and fairy tales are designed to console as well as terrify us by showing desperate characters striving to survive against all odds. It’s no wonder then that cinematic horror films have adapted these timeless tales for those of us who like “the ghoulies and and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night!”