LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD is one of the great primal fairy tales. It is, arguably, also one of the first, best, and weirdest of a strange cinematic sub-genre one might call “horror films for children”. This gruesome and grizzly tale would assuredly raise the hair of a small mind, and boasts scenes which are still somewhat unnerving today.
In particular, the Goblin’s Abode, i.e. the Wolf’s Den, is a literal cave of horrors, with many creepy elements stolen directly out of the horror movie canon (skeletons, demon faces in the dark, giant spiders, mass graves, etc.)
And when is the last time you saw a small child in a fairy tale confronting the Devil himself, and sending him to scurrying by invoking the spirit of Jesus Christ?!?
Yep, this is a wild one alright, and it’s not just the horror touches. There is an uncomfortable sexuality to the film which is part of its manic charm.
The relationship between Red, the Wolf, the Skunk, and in fact, the whole community (all of which may be intact in the original Perrault tale), could be interpreted in the classic Freudian sense as the painfully erotic struggle between lust and innocence, evil and good, or simply dirty old men and sexy youth…
When you absorb the fact that in this film, there’s a grown man in a mangy suit drooling constantly over a virtually pubescent girl-child, you have one of the great “boners” of kiddie-cinema history, or as one viewer put it, “a triumph for creeps everywhere!”
His animal lusts and appetites aside, the Wolf acts like a bald-faced pedophile. He has an unending supply of sheep and other animals, and even several other human children, one of which he imprisons in his terrible cave of horrors. Why then, does he lust especially after Red? Is it because he has a crush on her?
This uncomfortable connection between hunger and child-lust is given further credence by a shocking shot in the original production, which was (wisely) cut by Murray & Co.: the Wolf pictures Red as a roast pig, laying on a platter, and begins to carve her up!
Indeed, Red seems to be the focus of a great deal of attention from all the male “members” of her community. When she meets the woodmsen, they can’t wait to hug her and touch her and carry her around on their broad shoulders. At the village festival, giant sweaty musclemen do battle with each other in order to win a kiss from her.
In short, Red is a sexual pawn and/or sex object of the male life-force of this fairy tale world, and while this is, again, implicit in the Perrault tale, the Mexican filmmakers sure knew how to run with it!
One may view Red as the chosen queen of the village, or just a conceited little bitch. Her elevation to goddess-like status, even amongst her peers, is quite curious. Its almost as if she has been unconsciously chosen by the group as their token fertility goddess.
The Wolf’s helper/familiar/lover/slave is the unfathomably weird Stinky the Skunk (called just “the Skunk” here), an androgynous creature who is supposed to be sympathetic and comical, but comes across often as just demonic, with his spastic motions, hyper-attenuated speech, crass subservience, and unending, demented, infernal cackle.
Many of the Skunk’s actions in this film, including procuring children for his master, are evil actions, so he must be evil. Yet he tries very hard to portray himself as harmless, jolly, and most of all, an animal lover: he falls in love with Red’s parrot, and we can’t be sure the attraction is platonic, especially when he warbles, “point your tail in my direction!” to the horrified bird.
To put it bluntly, we sense that the Wolf and the Skunk have a (quite possibly romantic) sado-masochistic relationship, a creepy hunch which comes full circle in their last film, THE QUEEN’S SWORDSMAN, in which Wolf and Skunk have set up housekeeping, and are raising a (human) child.
The constant beatings Wolf gives to Skunk, often for no apparant reason, make their scenes look like outtakes from COPS in Fairy Land! These scenes are so un-PC, they are likely one of many reasons this film will never again see the light of the broadcast day.
There’s also a weird culture clash in this film; obviously Latino icons vie for attention with pseudo-Bavarian touches, and we feel we’re lost in some “World Village”, like something one might find at a low-budget Disneyland.
The dubbing, especially of the animals, is astoundingly bizarre, and although much of the Skunk’s gibberish is indecipherable, what we can hear implies that he’s often making cryptic, mumbled, off-color comments, similar to Popeye in the Fleischer cartoons. When one has the opportunity to slow down or play back some of the speeches thanks to video, the results are both stunning and rewarding.
The translated/dubbed songs are a riot as well: Red sings her vanity piece TWICE, as one would a bad opera. The Skunk chirps a hyper “serenade” to his parrot paramour, with strangly suggestive lyrics. The Wolf insults Red’s grandmother as he cooks her, and sings a song about how tough and crummy she’s going to taste!
LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD is one of the great Mexican fairy tales, a singularly unique experience, and a really odd duck for weirdoes of all ages.
special restored edition, color, fullscreen, mono, dubbed in English. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!