BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

Girls In The Hood

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 10:34 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

There's a new version of Red Riding Hood out this week made by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke. It's not the first time this dark tale of wolf trouble has been adapted - I've got my favourites - but what are yours?

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructionsIf you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit Mark's blog to view the video.


  • Comment number 1.

    Of course, the moment where Ellen Page actually puts up her red hoodie, wasn't just a little fluke on the shoot - it's actually an outtake of her just contemplating on her own in between performances, according to the audio commentary. Given how that image was seized upon by the marketing campaign, I'm not sure Hard Candy was ever intended as an overt retelling of the Red Riding Riding Hood fable.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Doctor K, I saw The Cave of Forgotten Dreams last Thursday at Broardway Cinema in Nottingham and it was shown in 3D. It's the first 3D film I've seen and I was disappointed; brilliant film but as a wearer of prescription specticals the 3D glasses had to go over the top of them and they kept slipping down, as well as putting a lot of pressure on my nose, which was uncomfortable, I felt like I couldn't get them into the right position for the optimal 3D effect. My main grip with the 3D however was that it wasn't really 3D; sure there was some depth in the screen but all that did was seperate the foreground objects from the background. For example, when the scientist were being interveiwed they looked as 3D as cardboard cut-outs. I was reminded of those Chinese puppet shows, the ones were they have black carboard figures with a light in the background. I'd like to see it again in 2D.

  • Comment number 3.

    For me, it was 'Company of Wolves', which I too saw at the cinema. Although some of the er... "Freudian" symbolism was a little too obvious, and provoked loud guffaws from the audience (that carefully positioned tree branch LOL).

    Red Riding Hood (the fairytale) is a natural story to make into a movie, and yes, there are clear opportunities, as it's such a simple tale, to overlay different meanings and interpretations onto what is essentially a simple warning to young girls: the evolution of wolf into werewolf is perhaps an inevitable development, perhaps meant to symbolise that danger isn't always obvious and may only appear at certain times, but I personally feel the original story, where the wolf is just a wolf, and clearly dangerous from the get-go, has rather more to offer.

    I personally wouldn't have allowed The Village into the Red Riding Hood 'canon': the only similarity really is that there's danger in them thar woods.

    But a film that I really enjoyed, and, I feel, deserves more recognition, that successfully weaves together several fairy tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, is Terry Gilliam's 'The Brothers Grimm'.

  • Comment number 4.

    I forgot to add the rather wonderful 1997 version of Red Riding Hood (black and white, 12 mins long) directed by David Kaplan, starring a very young Christina Ricci and narrated by Quentin Crisp.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hard Candy for sure. And as a photographer myself, boy did it make me squirm.

  • Comment number 6.

    I remember as a child catching a version of Red Riding Hood on TV one Christmas. It was filmed 'on ice' in that the actors were actually skating around, and the plot was actually told in flashback from the testimonies of various characters. It involved the Three Little Pigs rapping as they built their houses, and the wolf seducing the grandma. For the sheer off-the-wall interpretation, it clearly deserves a mention. This is the IMDb page URL ends with title/tt0182499/

    Also, I watched Hoodwinked recently with my 11 year old niece, and it was charming for me and entertaining for her. While it will not be revered in 15 odd years the way Toy Story has been, it still was a pleasant animation.

  • Comment number 7.

    Have you ever seen the Rajneel Singh short comedy "Big Bad Wolves", Dr K, and if so what are your thoughts? Whilst not an adaptation, it is a story in which five American mafioso sit around a table in a diner with one telling them his own version of Little Red Riding Hood, which he interprets as a tale about female sexuality and about the importance of teaching children sex education.

    There is a fairly limited selection of movies based on Red Riding Hood, perhaps a better question would be on fairytale adaptations as a whole, though on saying that no great films come to mind. As for Little Red Riding Hood, I would say The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon can be considered a loose adaptation, as it is about a recently released child molestor, and the police officer in that compares paedophiles to wolves. It's quite an underrated film, and goes back to what you were saying recently about whether box office figures mean anything, as very few people saw this movie because of the controversial subject matter.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hey what's going on! After years of reading this blog here across the pond, I get a not available in your area message. How can I make it through the weekend without my dose of the Good Doctor? God forbid! Must I be forced to fall back on the other English Doctor: Dr. Who?

  • Comment number 9.

    Hey Mark, I liked your video on Red Riding Hood and was happy to see you included Company of Wolves in your favs as I think it is a genuis film. I do think that one of the best film adaptations of the classic story appears in the 2003 horror red riding hood by Giacomo Cimini. I am also a big fany of THE WOODSMAN with Kevin Bacon, but I am not sure if it qualifies.

  • Comment number 10.

    What's the best telling of the Red Riding Hood story?

    The Silence of the Lambs of course!

    Jodie foster is Red Riding Hood who is confronting one big bad wolf (Hannibal the Cannibal Lector) in hopes of catching another (Buffalo Bill).

    This movie is Demme's masterpiece - having recognised the mythic elements in Harris' novel.

    We see Red Riding Hood all over this movie not least in the scenes showing Buffalo Bill quite literally making himself a "Grandma" suit in his dungeon.

    This movie developed on the Red Riding Hood fairy tale and has simply not been surpassed since.

    The wonderful scene in which Starling sees the sewing set and moths inside Bill's house is a genius re-modeling of the famous "What sharp teeth you have" moment in the book as that same chill runs down the spine when you watch it.

    Even with all the Oscars and praise I still feel this movie is underrated (it's that good)

  • Comment number 11.

    'A Company of Wolves' for me... definitely.

    I also like Shyamalan's 'The Village'... the only one of his films I really dislike (of the 7 that I have seen) is 'Lady in the Water'... but I have yet to see 'The Last Airbender'.

    I have an idea for a twist on 'Red Riding Hood' that doesn't involve a wolf at all (not in the excellent 'Hard Candy' non-supernatural direction either)... If I can only get it down properly... I don't have delusions that it would ever get filmed though, even if I can get it down on paper to my satisfaction.

    I've never seen 'Freeway'... Off to the DVD shop I trot :o)

  • Comment number 12.

    No one mentioned Little Red Riding Rabbit yet? What's up doc?

  • Comment number 13.

    Little Rural Riding Hood, probably my favourite Tex Avery cartoon

  • Comment number 14.

    What about Don't Look Now with the killer in the red hood (should there have been a spoiler alert in there!)
    I can't make a link to Red Riding Hood or wolves though unless there is anyone clever out there who can help me :-)

  • Comment number 15.

    Well Dr Kermode....... I have always thought the Laura Palmer/Bob/Leyland Palmer set up in Twin Peaks/ Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me had a Red Riding Hood Vibe about it: she's lost in the woods, sexual predators hungry for her flesh and lot's of the colour red......

  • Comment number 16.

    Easy - The Red Riding Trilogy. Not an obvious, overt re-working of Little Red Riding Hood, but it clearly contains many of the images and themes, even characters being referred to as "The Wolf". For me, the best take on the tale since Company of Wolves.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think that lots of Miyasaki's films have a Red Riding Hood motif running through them. He takes young girls as his heroines, puts them in situations where they might seem to be victims, and then has them triumph in some way, or display their own personal power. I suppose the best example would be Princess Mononoke, in which the girl (San) is actually a wolf-girl. She's been adopted by the very beasts which should devour her.

  • Comment number 18.

    If you give this question a bit of time, you soon realise that so many potential answers exist. My first thought was that so many slasher films fit a very basic Red Riding Hood paradigm; Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and all their brother and sister movies all feature a female protagonist who embarks upon a journey during which she is hunted and endangered by the wolf figure, but ultimately survives. In such a reading, the Final Girl simply equates to a version of the Little Red Riding Hood character.

    Another thought that crossed my mind was that, if one considers the fairy tale in terms of a dichotomy between the safety of the village and the danger of the woods, then The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance and all those town and country stories can be considered adaptations of the LRRH tale.

    Perhaps Friday the 13th, with the movie’s mixture of all the above themes, is thus a strong contender.

  • Comment number 19.

    RussiansEatBambi66 #10. I agree that Silence of the Lambs is a really great movie. It draws on quite a few mythic elements (it also follows a classic Hero's Journey a la Joseph Campbell).

    The climatic scene when Starling descends into Buffalo Bill's cellars to finally confront him appears to be a modern day retelling of the legend of Theseus descending into the labyrinth to slay the Minotaur in order to save a princess. Returning to the recent horror thread that sequence (and Lector's escape) really had me wholly engaged with the story when I first saw it. Having Starling groping around in the dark whilst Buffalo Bill watches through night vision glasses racked up the tension to almost unbearable levels. Superb movie.

    Being an animation fan my favourite version of the Red Riding Hood tale is Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood set in New York's nightclub world where a wolf customer with the hots for a singer called Red goes to Red's grannies house hoping to find Red alone, but meets his match in an oversexed granny who chases him around to the point of exhaustion.

  • Comment number 20.

    #10 - Great call. I now wonder if the inclusion of Q Lazzarus' 'Goodbye Horses' in the film, replete with wolf-esque howls, was an intentional nod to LRRH!?

  • Comment number 21.

    Freeway was terrific, mainly i think because it contains one of Reese Witherspoon's best performances.

    The thing i thought of most when watching the Red Riding Hood trailer was Ginger Snaps: The Beginning. It is about the 'Fitzgerald' sisters in the 19th century, who come across a fort in the forest however it is under siege by ware wolfs. There is also someone inside the fort killing the inhabitants and the locals are trying to find out who. Very similar to Red Riding Hood but I’m sure superior.

  • Comment number 22.

    #21. Oh good, someone else has seen the Gingersnaps movies. The first I really liked. The sequels were OKish, if a little forgettable.

    The Red Riding Hood story can be seen as a cautionary tale, as relevent today sadly as media accounts of rapes and murders show; werewolf mythology can be seen as being about the beast within (I'm sure medieval times had it's serial killers too) but also about sexual desire and the dangers of being ruled by passions and lusts. Outsiders with a secret that make it difficult to fit in with society are always popular characters with teens; particularly if they have a special someone who understands them. Mix it all together and you have a potent brew; as the Twighlight series demonstrates.

    Personally though I'm getting a little fed up with the fantasy genre being dominated by vampires, werewolves and zombies. particularly as most film makers are just recycling and re-mixing old ideas. Can't someone do anything new with them, or introduce a new horror character?

  • Comment number 23.

    Pan's Labyrinth! , one of the best fantasy films i have ever seen and it is only a few years old. I agree with you however, it's a shame there are'nt more films like Pan's Labyrinth and by that i mean films trying to do something genuinly interesting with fokelore.

  • Comment number 24.

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned Trick 'r Treat. While definitely not the best retelling of this story, it has quite interesting twist.

    I agree that The Company of Wolves is really good. I’m not sure if it’s the best adaptation, but it’s the best I’ve seen.

  • Comment number 25.

    #23. Was directed a jayfurneaux, i apologise for not making that clear.

  • Comment number 26.

    My Pick would be Jin-Roh. The 1999 anime directed by Hiroyuki Okiura and written by "Ghost in the Shell"s Mamoru Oshii. A psychological trhiller that puts red riding hood into a communistic Japan after Germany has won the 2nd World War. It's dark, melancholic, brutal and in the end very tragic and sad. In equal shares 1984 and Ghost in the shell and just how a fairy tale for adults is ment to be told.

  • Comment number 27.

    And the english dub is great

  • Comment number 28.


  • Comment number 29.

    I really enjoyed Freeway for its mischievous sense of humour and the way it plays with your assumptions of where you think the plot is heading, but I honestly don't know why "The Company of Wolves" is rated so highly. Visually it is excellent and convincingly makes you believe you are trapped in a nightmare, but the actual story is so uninspired, incoherent and impassive that by the end of the film you'll more than likely be joining the protagonist in a deep slumber.

  • Comment number 30.

    First off i think the village is a great shout from the good Dr! My personal choice however takes place aboard the Nostromo, and has Sigourney Weavers Ripley, taking on the biggest, badest wolf of them all. i give you ALIEN.

  • Comment number 31.

    Not the best film, but the most recent film I have seen that alludes to the Red Riding Hood tale is Hanna which opens in the UK on May 6.

    There is a moment at the end of the film where a character is quite dramatically framed as the big bad wolf. I wasn't wild about this film but I expect some people will like it and it will probably do OK at the all important Box Office.

  • Comment number 32.

    To whoever said Pan's Labyrinth, it's much much more Alice In Wonderland than Little Red Riding Hood

    onto Freeway, I absolutely absolutely absolutely LOVE that film, one of the most twisted films ever, Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland are their very best and a wonderful supporting turn from a very very young late Britney Murphy as a lesbian friend of Reese's character in prison. Shamefully the film has had a horrible treatment on dvd, I have the vanilla disc Region 1 which has a commentary by Matthew Bright who comes off as quite a pervy man actually, the region 2 has been butchered and is in full screen, Freeway deserves a special edition badly.

    John Waters is massive fan as well, he introduced it on his tv show "Movies that will corrupt you".

  • Comment number 33.

    Working on the above principle that The Silence of the Lambs is a kind of Red Riding Hood re-working (a very good analogy!) perhaps Hitchcock's seminal Psycho could also be a loose re-working of the fairytale?

  • Comment number 34.

    Howdy. I missed your comments on the regular show this week. The guys filling in mentioned this video blog and I came to watch it. I was disappointed to see that it needs Flash. I understand Adobe Flash far too well to allow it on any of my machines. I hope you will consider some other options to make your work available.
    Good day

  • Comment number 35.

    It seems that judging by the above comments, EVERY film with a female protagonist owes something to the red-hooded fairy tale heroine.

    What tosh!

  • Comment number 36.

    The village is a very good film. I still can't believe Roger Ebert gave it only one star.

  • Comment number 37.

    On the topic of Pan's Labyrinth (apparently the Citizen Kane of the fantasy film genre - rubbish!) I have to say that any comparison to LRRH or AIW is undue.

    Pan's Labyrinth is an intriguing film about Civil War with regurgitated fantasy elements tracked on for no real purpose other than obligation to a genre Del Toro loves.

    I think the film would have have been better without the little girl and the set-pieces (yes cut-yer-lovlies) and be more focused on the elder Spanish woman servant who is by far the heroine of the movie.

    Also, that Fawn looked like a reject from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

  • Comment number 38.

    The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon as the wolf in this case shown as a paedophile and as Mos def say's 'there aint no woodsman to save the kids'.
    But i'm not a fan of the village I thought it was obvious and expolitative only Jennifer 8 shows visually impaired people in a worse light....

  • Comment number 39.

    The Lovely Bones.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    I forgot to mention. Dr. K, you should know the difference between a twist and a reveal. Shyamalan has never given us a plot twist, only reveals. I enjoyed The Sixth Sense, it had the perfect reveal. We discover a truth that was there all along. A plot twist is a shocking turn in the sequence of EVENTS. I would like to properly the meaning of words (of any language), lest they degenerate into meaningless grunts.

  • Comment number 42.

    The House Rules committee might be unaware of sarcasm. I said that the Twilight series is racist and sexist. It's obvious. The story gives us a main character whose skin matches his pure soul and inferior characters with darker skin. The lead female is helpless, eager to marry, and suicidal without her man. The story follows a certain mythology that's easy to spot if you know the inspiration behind it.

  • Comment number 43.

    gaelsano, we can surmise that the moderator's evil twin is on duty this weekend because a) they always restrict video content to the UK and b) they start deleting jokey posts.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for reminding me about Freeway Mark. I saw it at 2am on c4 randomly one Saturday evening about 5 years ago and loved it, gonna have to get it to watch again now!

  • Comment number 45.

    10th Kingdom, anyone?

  • Comment number 46.

    The whole "Not available in your area" thing is kind of pointless to me as people can just go to YouTube and watch everything there.

  • Comment number 47.

    Jin-Roh is amazing. Its use of the tale as a political metaphor lends a surprisingly emotional impact. Highly recommended to anyone who wouldn't shrug it off just for being somber, convoluted, and animated.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think that people are forgetting that a film with a female protagonist and some sort of male enemy isn't necessarily influenced by Red Riding Hood - especially when they don't include many other plot details.

    Heck, I'm going to put forward 'Hoodwinked!' Personally, I think the whole 'wolf is masculine predator' or 'the wolf is alluring' ideas are fair, but overdone. I think he just serves as part of the fairytale's message that the strange, wild and unfamiliar shouldn't be trusted, which is what was recounted to children and what kept the tale alive for many years (before and after the Grimms). But since pre-school has been drilling this into kids for years anyway, let's just let our kids forget them old fairytales, and have a bit of a laugh watching 'Hoodwinked!' instead!

    Nah, I'm kidding myself. I love the old fairytales, and deeply believe they serve a purpose in being kept alive as they are. The originals are very pure, though, and most films just subvert the original meanings for their own ends. For me, there's no 'best adaptation' of Red Riding Hood. The 'best film' based on Red Riding Hood is more debateable, I think.

  • Comment number 49.

    *especially when they don't include many other similar plot details.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'd have to agree with Freeway. It's the only film that captures the twisted fairy tale vibe of the original story. For me, Hard Candy, though a good film, buried its themes a bit too much in the 'real' to be considered a fairy story.

    As for The Village, watching it makes me simultaneously bored and enraged.

  • Comment number 51.

    The Village - didn't see the twist coming ??? Have you taken leave of you senses. I think you should have you doctorate revoked.

  • Comment number 52.

    @Lewis Craggs

    Sorry Lewis, I didn't either and I consider myself to be fairly intelligent. What I found odd after I'd seen it is that a lot of the criticisms of the film (mostly based around the way characters spoke and behaved) were fully explained by the ending - almost as if they had decided what was wrong with the film before they'd finished watching it. I really enjoyed it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Agree with the point that many horror films follow the Red Riding Hood paradigm, but special mention must go to Wolf Creek - female (and male) protagonists embark on a journey, find themselves in a harsh unfamiliar landscape, meet a character disguising their true identity and, interestingly


    it is the male character who survives.

    Surely the decision to drop the additional 'e' from the name of the real crater they visit was no accident.

    A great twist on the Red Riding Hood tale and scary as hell to boot.

  • Comment number 54.

    In response to 'The Village' - I'd say it is very much like Unbreakable in that it's a great character study with a cheap twist tacked onto the end simply because there was one on his most successful BO debut: 'The Sixth Sense'

    I think Village was great with it's two leads Dallas and Phoenix holding up the story quite well but how it finished cheapened the movie I felt

  • Comment number 55.


    Yeah perhaps Psycho is LRRH told from the point of view of the Wolf himself?

    That's a very interesting idea.

    What I would ask is why have Disney never made a definitive LRRH story as they have done with Sleeping Beauty and Snow White?

    Also we must not forget The Night of the Hunter - Big Bad Wolves don't get much scarier than Robert Mitchum although one could argue that this film also bears a striking resemblance to The Three Little Pigs

  • Comment number 56.

    With regard to RichmondStag above, I've thought for quite some time that the sublime Don't Look Now is a turned-on-its-head telling of the Red Riding Hood story. Donald Sutherland is the wolf; the alpha male incapable of understanding some of the subtleties of his situations; his inability to comprehend (his she-wolf) Julie Christie's increasing distance from him, the almost animalistic abandon of the sex scene, the relentless pursuit of what is logically unobtainable and the eventual realisation of perceived innocence proving ultimately deadly to the self (or perhaps even vengeful.) These are some the things I've read into it over the years anyway. There's probably even more, but that's all that springs to mind right now. Either that or I'm completely barking. Or (ahem) howling up the wrong tree. Superb film though, (Don't Look Now, I mean) albeit it freaks me out so much I can hardly bear to watch it these days. I've said more than enough about wolves though so I won't start on bears too

    Adrian, Kilmarnock

  • Comment number 57.

    Company of Wolves, without a doubt.

    I went to watch Red Riding Hood after seeing the trailers, and not having read any reviews. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I felt like I had been lied to. The trailers make it look like you can expect a new, scary, fresh telling of a gothic masterpiece, and instead you got a 'cute', weak, heavily dilluted mess of a film, with no tension or horror at all. The acting was apallingly bad, the sets dire, the costumes embarrassing... All in all, one of the worst films I have seen in the cinema in the last ten years, if not ever.

  • Comment number 58.

    I feel the need to broaden the topic to computer games, because The Path is a very odd game, described at by the excellent Kieron Gillen, or the very reliable John Walker at
    You choose from a selection of sisters, go off into the woods and are told 'not to leave the path'. so of course, being a game, you do...

  • Comment number 59.

    I plea to all who have responded to my comment regarding Pan's Labyrinth. It was directed it at jayfurneaux who said:

    "Personally though I'm getting a little fed up with the fantasy genre being dominated by vampires, werewolves and zombies. particularly as most film makers are just recycling and re-mixing old ideas. Can't someone do anything new with them, or introduce a new horror character?"

    I was not giving Pan's Labyrinth as an example of a reworking of red riding hood merely pointing out that the there are still original and brilliant fantasy films out there. I should have made it clearer but I hope this will do just that.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ewen griffin

    Yup I see your point.

    But do you really think Pan's Labyrinth is actually that good? I see much of what Del Toro is doing as being actually fantasy-lite.

    He's never got to grips with fantasy or horror in the way other filmmakers have.

    While PL is very well-designed and stylish it didn't scare nor entrance me. I felt the film is heavily over-rated and is simply not "The Citizen Kane" of the fantasy film genre (as per Dr. K)

    People always go on about the Pale Man scene ***spoiler alert*** - but even with it's attractive fantasy design, the scene is predictable from the outset and I wasn't on the edge of my seat when he's chasing her at 2 mph (plus if his eyes are in the palms of his hands isn't that going to make it impossible for him to actually grab hold of her as he'd keep loosing sight of his target every time he reached out!)

    I'll never forget the sheer ecstatic audience reaction in the cinema during LOTR Fellowship during the Mines of Moria sequence. When that Balrog came out the ceiling of the cinema felt like it was gonna tear off!

    This is what I expect from a good fantasy film and PL gave me none of that. I sat and admired the design and I really liked the real life scenes of the civil war with the rebels but all in all it was just another middle of the line Del Toro film much like Cronos and Hellboy 2 etc:

    Good but not great

  • Comment number 61.

    I loved Pan's Labyrinth; i agree that it is not the Citizen Kane of fantasy (I always like how that means that Citizen Kane is the Citizen Kane of movies.) I do however think is is very good. The way it has a real feel for how you see the world as a child struck me.

    I absolutely love Lord Of The Rings in fact as ashamed as i am to admit it, i watched them all so many times that i could recite the screenplay just before the actors while the films was on (i mean whilst watching it on video, i would never dream of breaking the code of conduct.)


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.