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Film Review: Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters (1962)

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SYNOPSIS:

Follow up to Caperucita y sus tres amigos. Caperucita, the Wolf and the Ogre are captured by the Witch Queen, accused of treason by the Vampire. Caperucita, followed by a host of old and new characters begin the adventure to rescue their friends.

REVIEW:

I was chatting with a friend when I mentioned another movie I had to review. I told him that I wasn’t sure how to describe it, so he suggested “undeclared war crime”. I did have two problems with that, however. One was that I didn’t think the movie wasn’t quite bad enough to warrant that description, and the second problem was that I hadn’t thought of it first and was kind of kicking myself for it. However, I did find that “undeclared war crime” did fit the movie I’m reviewing now.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters, also known as Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood, is a Mexican musical for the whole family. However, the fact that the movie has two different names may be a sign that it’s trying to hide from angry mobs of people who actually sat through it. The story is that there’s a land ruled by the Queen of Badness, a character that looks so much like the evil queen from Disney’s Snow White I’m surprised Disney didn’t sue the pants of the filmmakers. Anyways, in her land doing anything “good” is punishable by death. Both the Big Bad Wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood story and the Ogre from Tom Thumb’s had been reformed by their experiences with those characters. By turning away from being evil, they are sentenced to death. Their annoying buddy, Stinky the Skunk, escapes the Queen’s castle to try to get Riding Hood and Tom Thumb to save their friends. Adding to the heroes’ problems, however, is that their village has been turned into monkeys and vermin by a curse cast by the Queen and her sister.

It’s hard to know where to begin here because the flaws to be found are so absolutely terrible and numerous. I’ll try to hit the highlights (or lowlights if you prefer). Let’s start with the most glaring thing that will make you want to claw out your eyes: the make-up effects. A lot of the creatures, like Stinky, the Wolf, or the Ogre, all looked terrible. The prosthetics applied to their faces made them look horrifying when they’re supposed to appear whimsical and almost appeared slapped on instead of carefully applied by expert hands. Instead of looking like the whimsical fantasy characters that would appeal to children, they looked like creepy dudes that terrify kids. They actually looked like the kind of people that is the reason why we tell kids not to talk to strangers.

This being a Mexican movie, it was dubbed, and the dubbing was wretched. Some characters were given voices so annoying it was agony just having them on the screen (Looking at you, Stinky). There also was a noted lack on consistency in some scenes. For instance, Little Red Riding Hood sounded like she was voiced by an actual little girl until she started singing. Then she suddenly had the voice of a woman at least 20 years older than the pre-teen child on the screen. I should also mention that sometimes the dubbing didn’t synch up to the characters lips well. I’ve seen worse, but I definitely have seen better.

I know that since this is a foreign film where everyone is speaking a different language so it’s hard to really judge the acting. Some of the performers are trying to convey emotion while a good portion of their faces obscured by their makeup, so they tend to exaggerate their every move. It becomes both silly and unintentionally hilarious for all the wrong reasons. I’m sure that would do well to amuse a child, but not so much the adult audience. It’d work better if the characters didn’t look so freaky. The other villains also tended to overact, and the child performers seemed robotic most of the time.

The worst thing about the movie is freaking Stinky the Skunk. He is the most obnoxious character. He’s kind of worthless and has the voice straight out of old Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons, but somehow manages to be even more obnoxious sounding. The character’s costume and makeup make him so freaky-looking that it makes it hard for me to see kids embracing the character as intended. I wouldn’t be surprised if kids ran away screaming and crying at the sight of him if they ever ran into him for real. But that freaking, awful, ear-piercing voice that borders on headache inducing is what takes the cake. It is one of the most hate-inducing sounds I’ve ever had to listen to. If there are any redeeming qualities to this film, and I’m honestly hard pressed to find any, Stinky far outweighs them. He makes every moment he’s on-screen an agonizing experience.

I found there to be nothing appealing about this film. It’s neither charming, entertaining, or fun. The makeup effects make the characters too creepy looking to appeal to its target demographic, the dubbing is awful, and Stinky’s mere existence makes everything a thousand times worse. Avoid this movie at all costs.

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