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October 26, 2020

Red Hoods & White Fangs: LRRH on Film, By Amanda Bergloff

But grandmother, what big eyes you have.
The better to see you with.
Oh, but grandmother, what big teeth you have.
The better to eat you with...

Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with no name who was identified by what she wore. She vows to her mother to stay on the path through the woods when she's sent to her grandmother's house, but strays to pick flowers after a wolf tricks her. The wolf proceeds to grannie's house and devours her before Little Red can get there. When Little Red arrives, she finds what she thinks is her grandmother, but soon finds out it is not.

Out of all the fairy tales I read as a kid, LRRH resonated with me because I was just a girl, like her, who wasn't the most beautiful, charming, or intelligent of princesses found in typical fairy tales. We were both ordinary girls who didn't always make the best decisions.

And like all memorable fairy tales, there was something more just under the surface of the story. The idea that things aren't what they seem- that what appears to be your grandmother, could be something else...something dangerous that could destroy you...something sinister that could show its shiny teeth and devour you in a very unpleasant way, both scared and fascinated me. Images of red hoods and white fangs worked their way into my subconscious mind and warned me to think twice about what my eyes perceived.

This underlying aspect is why LRRH lends itself to modern horror tropes in film. Little Red becomes the heroine that must deal with fear, deceit, misplaced trust, seduction, and lost innocence to survive. More importantly, the wolf, who can be disguised as a human gets a supernatural upgrade by becoming a literal werewolf in many movie adaptations, or if not a werewolf, then something equally nightmarish hiding under a normal exterior that challenges what is real and what is illusion.

So, for spooky October, here are 4 films - not for children - that you may not have thought about, that interpret the LRRH story in interesting ways that lean towards the horror genre.
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES
(1984)
Written by: Angela Carter, Neil Jordan
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, David Warner
This 1984 film from the UK is a real fan favorite whenever I take a poll of LRRH movies on #FairyTaleTuesday. Based upon several tales in the book, The Bloody Chamber, by Angela Carter (who also co-wrote the screenplay,) "The Company of Wolves" sets the story of Little Red Riding Hood in the dreamscape of a girl's mind. There, grandmother's tell stories and warn girls that a wolf is sometimes more than he seems. This stylish film is a lyrical dream of dark forests and girl's longings with a werewolf (and an amazing special effects werewolf transformation) thrown in the mix. After all, "..if there's a beast inside every man, he meets his match in the beast inside every woman."
RED RIDING HOOD
(2011)
Written by: David Leslie Johnson
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie
This version of LRRH has the villagers aware that there's a werewolf haunting the woods surrounding them. Their truce with it (by offering up animal sacrifices) is broken when the werewolf takes the life of the sister of the Little Red character (Valerie.) As the people of the village realize that the werewolf takes on the human form of one of their own during the day, it's a race to figure out who that is as more people are attacked and killed. Part romantic thriller, part horror, part mystery, it's only the Little Red character who can recognize who the true wolf is in their midst in this film.

THE VILLAGE
(2004)
Written & Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joachin Phoenix, Adrien Brody
This twist on LRRH has it set in 19th century America instead of the usual European locale. In this variation, Little Red wears a yellow cloak, and the nameless creatures living in the surrounding forests are the ones in red. It's the elders of the town who reach an understanding with "Those We Don't Speak Of"- if villagers don't stray into their woods, then they will not come into the village. The color red becomes a banned color within the village, but it is the color of warning when someone does go into the forest, and the creatures are set loose. Weird and haunting imagery, permeated by the feeling of dread, drives this version where innocence and humanity's limitations collide.
THE BROTHERHOOD
OF THE WOLF
(2001)
Written by: Christophe Gans, Stephane Cabel
Directed by: Christophe Gans
Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Decascos, Emelie Dequenne
This French film takes the most liberties with the LRRH story out of the four films since it mixes the fantastical elements of the original fairy tale with that of the real historical account of the "Beast of  Gévaudan," a werewolf like creature responsible for 123 attacks in the province of Gévaudan between 1764 and 1767.  In this variation, it's the huntsman that takes center stage, yet the red imagery throughout, the innocent girl that the detective-hunters are trying to protect with a werewolf in the woods are reminiscent of the original story. However, this is not your grandmother's tale. It's an original mix of fairy tale, folktale, horror, mystery, martial arts, and historical period piece thriller. Director, Chirstophe Gans, combines high stylization, intense action, love, revenge, and redemption to create an extremely unique film.

Share your favorite Little Red Riding Hood films in the COMMENTS section below. We'd love to hear from you!
BONUS LRRH
Inspired Tales
from EC's Archives
Click on the covers below:
The cloak was scarlet, like cherries in summer.
I'd never seen a grander cloak...
A cloak of white Little Red now dons...
Their grey bodies surrounded her.
Their howls swept through her
like a winter wind...
The Little Red Riding Hood Issue
MUSIC
to inspire your own Little Red tale...
Amanda Bergloff, writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE
Also, join her every Tuesday on Twitter for #FairyTaleTuesday to share what you love about fairy tales, folktales, and myths.

Cover Art & Layout: Amanda Bergloff

October 22, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Geas, By Amanda Dier


This wonderful tale explores “obligation” deftly. It’s from 2017. Find it here.

October 19, 2020

Old Witch Photos

EC would normally have done thing new the third Monday of any given month, but the last post of the month will be better next week. So today, in keeping with the season of the witch, I rounded up some old witch photos. Enjoy! KW









October 15, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Who Was Mother Goose?



William Gilmer takes us on an enchanting dive into just who Mother Goose might have been. Originally published in April 2018. 

***

Image is “Off With Mother Goose,” by Mabel Lucie Atwell.

October 14, 2020

Bonus Story: Fallen Angel, By Henry Herz




Editor’s note: This light-hearted, funny take seemed like a perfect bonus story, and here it is. Henry’s mashup of “The Pied Piper” and one very hungry angel will lighten and brighten your day. Enjoy!


Pride and gluttony led to my fall from Heaven, but that is a tale for another time. Retaining my white wings proved a mixed blessing, as keeping them hidden quickly grew tiresome. I walked the Earth alone, posing as Evangeline the minstrel-mage. I traversed rarely trodden trails to astound audiences and, more to the point, to collect their coins with my spellbinding music, storytelling, and spell casting.


A chill wind blew, stinging my ears and tingling my fingers. I pulled my multicolored mantle tighter about my shoulders and tucked-in wings. Onward I trudged, following the lowering sun westward.


I topped a gentle rise and spied a distant but welcome sight—a small town, its far edge nestled against a dark green wood. Wisps of smoke from hearth fires beckoned. Ah, a chance to warm my chilly hands, rest my weary feet, and fill my empty belly, I thought. I could really go for a curd-smothered beef round between trenchers with a side of fried fingerling potatoes. But there's got to be a catchier name for that ... Encouraged by the prospect of sleeping on a bed rather than al fresco on unyielding earth, I marched without pause, reaching the hamlet before sunset. The peasants seemed pleasant enough, and I obtained without difficulty directions to the only inn. I strolled toward the central square, navigating narrow alleys lined by the wattle and daub buildings common to this province.


But I soon discovered this was like no other town I'd ever before beheld, for the villagers wore blue bretona birds on their heads like living hats! Being winged myself, birds held a special place in my heart.


The birds sang sweet songs. The villagers primped and played with their precious pets.


How odd! This place is for the birds. Hunger outweighed my curiosity, so I held in abeyance my questions about their feathered fedoras until I reached the thatch-roofed inn on the square. There I discovered that the innkeeper wore more than one hat, as they say, also serving as the mayor. I spent the last of my well-earned coins to secure dinner and a modest room for the night.


“I'll have a curd-smothered beef round with fried fingerlings,” I told the barkeep.


“A number seven!” he called to the kitchen. “Would you like an ale with that?”


***


I sighed contentedly after filling my belly. Tomorrow, I'll need to fill my purse. I yawned, eschewing the rustic evening entertainment scheduled for the common room, and climbed the rough-hewn wooden steps to my room. Miffed by the absence of a mint on my pillow, but exhausted by the day's exertions, I blew out the sputtering candle and sprawled on the straw-filled mattress.


***


I dreamt of traveling in style and comfort via a four horsepower luxury chariot. Intermittent slurping sounds woke me. I opened an eye. Beams of moonlight peeked through the curtains, softly illuminating the room. Spying nothing amiss and too tired to spare the noises any further thought, I fell back asleep.


***


I rose in the morn, refreshed though still sore from days of hiking. I longed for a chicken coop of fried eggs, a pigpen's worth of bacon, and a hot spring of coffee. But my empty purse dictated a different plan.


Tightening my belt, I resolved to remedy the situation by finding a suitable spot on the square to play for passersby and pass the hat, as it were. These rustic folk are probably starved for good music. Ugh, I've got to stop thinking about food.


I stepped outside and breathed the fresh morning air. But villagers scrambled helter-skelter in alarm like pheasants fleeing a flushing spaniel. For an overnight onslaught of scaly vermin now disrupted the harmony of the pastoral village. Who will toss me a coin now? I wondered. I'll have to don my thinking cap.


“Pestiferous niblings dug up my flowers,” complained one villager, pointing.


“You don't say?” I replied, having previously encountered such rodents of unusual shape in my travels.


“They snuck into cupboards and ate our berry scones,” cried another.


“Is that a fact?” I responded. That explains why they smelt of elderberries. My stomach growled, but my brow smoothed as a pecuniary opportunity percolated in my mind. Percolated? Stop thinking about breakfast!


“They gnaw my toys, and snurfle while I sleep,” wailed a small boy.


Hence the strange sounds last night. I nodded with empathy. Yet of all the niblings' offenses, the villagers deemed most egregious the torment of their bretona birds. For the tree-climbing niblings gave the birds no respite, chasing them from roosting spot to roosting spot, whether for play or as prey I could not say.


As the tally of complaints multiplied, the mayor strode into the square, huffing and puffing, shouting and pouting, but in no way improving the situation for his folk. He frequently fiddled with a large, lavishly plumed bretona bird perched atop his head. I've traveled enough to know a nincompoop when I suffer the misfortune of meeting one.


The grievances grew, and when he could countenance no more, the mayor stamped his feet. “Mifflestones! This will not do.”


Incompetent and irritable. I mentally doubled my de-infestation fee. “I am Evangeline the minstrel-mage. I can help,” I said to the mayor, throwing my hat into the ring, so to speak. I bowed my head with more manners than were due the backwater bumpkin.


The mayor did not reply. Instead, he ordered the villagers to build cages, weave nets, and set traps.


The indignities I endure to earn a meal. He lacks the courtesy to reply, the wits to solve the problem, and the humility to seek aid. He should hang up his hat as mayor. Biding my time, I made myself comfortable as a spectator. This will be entertaining.


The milking of animals, the planting of crops, and other daily routines ceased. But all to no avail. The pestiferous niblings dodged and evaded. The cages, nets, and traps remained empty. Shoulders slumped as the villagers resumed their regular duties.


The mayor's face reddened.


I stood. “I am Evangeline the minstrel-mage. I can help. Ridding towns of their troubles is old hat for me,” I said, pointing at a nibling preparing to nibble on a dozing dog's tail.


The mayor glared, but approached nonetheless. “What will my townsfolk think of me if I let a stranger solve our problems?” he replied rhetorically in a whisper, tilting his head toward the square.


I smiled, saying nothing. That you are not a prideful fool. Instead, you make clear that you possess the wits of a donkey's back end, but with less aesthetic appeal. I sighed. Oh, the indignities I endure to earn a meal. He won't be able to pull a solution out of his hat. Sooner or later he will bow to the inevitable and hire me. I mentally tripled my de-infestation fee.


After a pause, the mayor's face lit with an idea, possibly a rare experience for him. “Let us loose our woolyfloof herd to chase off the pestiferous niblings!” he cried.


At the drop of a hat, the dutiful villagers again ceased the milking of animals, the planting of crops, and other daily routines. They drove the woolyfloofs from their split-rail pens.


But the pestiferous niblings, while small in stature, possessed the tenacity of terriers. They bared their fangs, swiped with their claws, and snurfled most defiantly.


The larger but timid woolyfloofs bleated and fled pell-mell. Or was it helter-skelter? Higgledy-piggledy? I can never keep those straight.


The niblings resumed their depredations, while hapless villagers scrambled to recover their errant livestock. 


“Wobius!” they cried. “When shall we be free of the pestiferous niblings?”


Third time's the charm. “Shall I rid you of these rodents?” I hailed the mayor, spreading my arms.


Emotions played out on his face like a stage performance. Eventually, he grinned, which I found strangely disconcerting. “Very well. Name your price, minstrel.”


“I shall wipe out your pests in exchange for ... cue dramatic music ... your bretona birds,” I said, pointing at the one perched on his head. My fame would soar as the only minstrel this side of the Great River with a personal gaggle of bretona birds. Or was it a convocation? Parliament? Regardless, in a pinch they could serve as lunch. There I go again, thinking about food.


The mayor's eyes bulged, his fists trembled, and his face reddened further, if that were possible. With a visible effort of will, he gradually regained his composure. “A moment,” he sputtered, storming to the center of the square.


Townsfolk crowded round the mayor. They argued in heated whispers, casting glances at me. A lengthy debate ended with the mayor having the last word, a polysyllabic one at that, incrementally raising my estimate of his intelligence.


He approached me and doffed the bird from his head, cradling it with affection. “We cannot abide the pestiferous niblings. But bretona birds are cherished pets, dear to us as children. Will you accept a hogshead of pike as payment?” he asked, hat in hand, you might say. “Our pickled pike are the pride of the province!” he proclaimed.


I tilted my head but did not reply. That was far too low a price to dignify with a response, and in any event, fish, like this fool before me, tend to stink after a couple of days.


The mayor furrowed his brow. “How about a mule and cartload of woolyfloof milk, butter, and cheese? Is that not a valley of plenty for a humble bard?”


“Hmmf,” I grunted, scowling. A better offer, but still too stingy.


The mayor glanced back at the villagers, stared at his feet, and finally sighed in defeat. “Five splendificant rubies, the size of which are seldom seen?” he offered, touching the leather pouch at his belt.


The villagers gasped.


Now that's a horse of a different color. “Agreed. I shall face the mighty horde,” I declared, making the task sound far more daunting than it actually was. “Clear the square,” I shouted to the townsfolk with a grand sweep of my arm. The cut of my cloak rendered such gestures très dramatic.


The villagers' faces brightened at the prospect of the niblings' imminent removal. They hastened to comply. Many held their breath. A hush fell.


I strode to the center of the square and drew my sorciful flute with all the theatrics I could muster. I traced an orniculous symbol in the air. That would not aid my casting, but wizardry is 50% showmanship. I raised the instrument to my lips and played a dulcet canticle, followed by Bourée. The latter is not part of the spell, but the melody is always a crowd-pleaser.


At once, the niblings desisted their digging, forsook their foraging, and stopped their snurfling. Instead, they swarmed about me, drawn to the sweet sounds like hummingbirds to honeysuckle.


The villagers' eyes widened, their mouths agape.


I led the bespelled beasts out of the village, through shadowy woods to a distant glade. There they stayed.


I hummed a tune for my own amusement as I skipped back to the village, savoring the prospect of a lavish luncheon for their savior. The anticipation of a full belly raised my spirits considerably. But it turns out one should never count their birds before they hatch. Hmm. That's a catchy saying ...


“Huzzah! Hurray!” cheered the villagers. “Hats off to Evangeline!” They leaped and wept. They danced and pranced. They wirbilated in harmony with their beloved birds.


“The niblings shall vex you no more,” I declared. Cue dramatic music. “Now, fulfill your oath.”


“What now?” the small boy whispered to the mayor, unaware of my keen hearing. “You knew we had no rubies.”


The mayor turned to me. “Well, I um ... misspoke. Alas, we have no gems,” he said, holding up empty palms.


“Yet you kept that under your hat,” I growled. He suffers from pride and greed.


“How about ten woolyfloofs?” asked the mayor, pointing at a pen.


“That was not our accord,” I declared, putting my hands on my hips. “Beware. I will brook no betrayal. I wield great power.” … And responsibility.


“No one threatens me,” growled the mayor, clenching his fists. “Certainly not a white-haired mottle-mantled piper. The pestiferous niblings are gone. You may have woolyfloofs or nothing.” He turned and marched off.


He defrauds and derides me? I'm a friend of humanity, but even I have my limits. My face flushed.


The faithless villagers retreated from my baleful glare.


I would have swept out my flaming sword and separated his duplicitous head from his shoulders, but that sort of thing is frowned upon these days as too wrathful. Nor does it tend to encourage attendance at my musical recitals ... except by the teenagers, that is.


Again I drew my sorciful flute. I tapped a tree trunk two times and trilled a 'taliatory tune. The bretona birds flocked to me. Again I trod toward the tenebrous trees.


The villagers gasped. “Wobius! What have we done?” they cried at the sight of their poultry in motion. They wailed and flailed to no avail. For they would never again behold their beloved birds.


Far from the village, but no longer alone, I composed a new tune and sang with my flock. Or convocation? Parliament? In any event, it began thusly:


“If you fail to play it straight, you'll no longer wirbilate.


So, pay the angel, heed your words, and you won't lose your cherished birds.”


***


Bio: Henry Herz is the traditionally published author of 13 speculative fiction adult short stories, 11 children's books, and 3 children's short stories. He edited the dark fantasy anthology, Beyond the Pale. He blogs at HenryHerz.com


***


Image is The Pied Piper, by Arthur Rackham.


October 12, 2020

Holding On To Tam Lin, by Vivica Reeves


Editor’s note: As a Halloween fan, I found this take on not loving Halloween intriguing and thought provoking. EC is definitely pro Halloween, so I thought it was both fair and enlightening to give a different point of view that happens to be folklore-based. What do you think? 


With October well on its way, I’m reminded of some questions I was always asked around this time when I was growing up. “Why don’t you celebrate Halloween? Is it because you’re a Christian? Did your parents say it was bad?” Well, honestly at first, it was neither of those options.

When I was around six or seven, I was at an Arc Thrift Store. I ran to the book section, eagerly looking for something that would catch my eye. Only one thing caught my eye. An old yellow hardcover book with the title Myths and Legends. The exact title was Great Myths and Legends: The 1984 Childcraft Annual (An annual supplement to Childcraft—The How and Why Library). It was a mouthful, so I just called it Myths and Legends.

As a fairy-tale lover, I was intrigued. I sat down on the floor and began reading. Immediately, I was captivated by the legends and myths from Greece, Ireland, Africa, India, and Scotland. My parents noticed I liked it and bought it for me. That night, I eagerly devoured the stories and tales it gave me. By nightfall, I reached a story I could never forget, “The Saving of Tam Lin.”


The first thing I noticed about the tale was its illustrations, by Pollyanna Quasthoff. In my child mind, all I saw were scratchy, desperately drawn pictures. I was transfixed on the picture of a woman tightly holding onto a wolfman. Its snarling jaw close enough to tear her head off. They were surrounded by old wizards with soulless flint colored eyes. I still remembered how my heart pounded and my mouth became dry as I imagined the picture moving as they did in Harry Potter.


The creepy soulless wizards chanting as their staffs pulsated eerily. The wolfman’s chest vibrating with snarls and growls as it snapped its sharp fangs at the woman. The woman gritting her teeth as she held tighter, burrowing her face into the wolfman’s chest as her body trembled in fear (Quasthoff, 1984). I was so terrified, I yelped. Still, I read on.

The book’s version of the tale is simple. A brave and beautiful girl named Janet is told to beware of Caterhaugh woods. At first, she does, but when she is grown, her fearlessness wins out. She goes into the woods to pick roses and a handsome man clad in green, Tam Lin, appears, as one did back then. In the woods they talked every day, only talked and nothing else, and fell in love. But Tam Lin was under the rule of the fae. They kidnapped him when he was a child because in this version of the tale the fae are just evil jerks. They also had to make a sacrifice to the dark spirits on All-Hallows Eve.

Why did the fae have to make sacrifices? I don’t know, but I do know who is to be sacrificed, Tam Lin! Of course, Janet is horrified and insists that there must be a way to save him. Tam Lin told her that there was a way, but it would be dangerous and he feared for her safety. Janet insisted that she could do it and promised to save him. For nothing beats the power of a woman in love. At least, Tam Lin hoped nothing could beat his brave and beautiful girl. He told Janet what to do.

She had to wait in the magical dark spirit-filled woods till the fae rode by at the dead of night. Then she had to grab Tam Lin and hold onto him for 21 heartbeats. But, then fae wizards would attempt to make her let go of Tam Lin by turning him into horrible and terrifying things, such as the wolf in the image. Despite the terrifying things Tam Lin became and the pain Janet felt, she still held on. She kept her mind on her love for Tam Lin and her promise to save him. And save him she did. After 21 heartbeats, Tam Lin was human once more and the fae, along with the other dark spirits, disappeared. They were free to go live happily ever after and never travel into the Caterhaugh woods again, a smart decision on their part (World Book Inc., 1984).

When I was six, this tale was enough to spark my research on the holiday, Halloween. I found out that Halloween was one of the pagan holidays the Catholic Church used to convert people. And before it was rewritten, it had Celtic origins from the end of summer festival called Samhain, which means the end of summer. Samhain was the three-day festival at the end and beginning of the Celtic year, around the end of October and beginning of November for the modern Calendar. It was a time of bountiful harvest and preparation for the upcoming harsh winters. Since it was a time where death and life meet for the harvest, it was believed to be when the veil to the supernatural was thin. Since the veil was thin, some religious practices were done. Such as fortune-telling, speaking with the dead, and sacrifices like in “The Saving of Tam Lin” (Lang, 2019).

With my imagination, it did not take much to not want to celebrate Halloween. I did not want to celebrate a holiday where I could lose who I love. Or worse, they would change into something I feared.  Yet, as I grew up, like Janet, my fear lessened. I did not fear Halloween, but I still did not want to celebrate Halloween. When anyone asked me why, I didn’t know. Then I watched a video that summarized the ballad of Tam Lin (Overly Sarcastic Productions, 2018). Something in me stirred. Despite the terror, the tale caused me, I held onto it.


After I reread my childhood version, I found the original Scottish ballad of “Tam Lin,” and one with more modern English (Acland, 1997). There were different aspects between the original and my childhood tale. Such as a baby and a spiteful fae queen. But mainly I found something far more inspiring, devotion. Janet was devoted and dedicated to saving Tam Lin. She would not let him go because it wasn’t about what Janet feared, but who she loved.

So, why don’t I celebrate Halloween? Because I love God more than my fears and I want to hold on to Him. What do you hold on to?


***


References


Acland, A. “Versions of the Ballad of Tam Lin.” Tam Lin Versions, Tam Lin Balladry, 1997. 

http://tam-lin.org/versions/index.html


Lang, Cady. “What Is Samhain? Origin of Halloween Rooted in Pagan Holiday.” Time, Time, 30 Oct. 2018.

https://time.com/5434659/halloween-pagan-origins-in-samhain/

 

Overly Sarcastic Productions. “Tam Lin.” YouTube, Overly Sarcastic Productions, 26 Oct. 2018, 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF3O6Xkpscs

 

Quasthoff, Pollyanna. Great Myths and Legends: the 1984 Childcraft Annual. World Book, 1984. Illustrations.

World Book Inc., editor. Great Myths and Legends: the 1984 Childcraft Annual. World Book, 1984. Pages 72-81.


***

Bio: Vivica Reeves graduated with a bachelor's degree in Media Arts and Animation. With a short story published in the anthology, Her Story II and an essay published on Enchanted Conversation, she hopes to cultivate her storytelling with her blog SOMETHING GOOD and continue teaching children on how to tell their stories.


***

Images are both from the Myths and Legends book. Good sources for the illustrations were not easy to find, but I did my best! The book is still well worth exploring and many used copies are available online. Sadly, I could not find any examples of the Tam Lin story from the book in question, so I provided an old image on Wikipedia. KW

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