Director – Jared Cohn, Screenplay – Gabriel Campisi, Producer – David Michael Latt, Photography – Laura Beth Love, Music – Christopher Cano & Chris Ridenhour, Visual Effects Supervisor – Glenn Campbell, Makeup – Mariah Kraft, Production Design – Blake Reistad. Production Company – The Asylum.
Eric Balfour (Sheriff Adam), Bianca A. Santos (Samantha), Patrick Muldoon (Deputy Henry), Heather Tom (Office Victoria), Romeo Miller (Danny), Brendan Wayne (Officer Scudder), Marina Sirtis (Grandma Esmeralda Winfield), Amy Landon (Deputy Abbey), Amy Argyle (Becky), Tony Ketcham (Benson), Jake T. Getman (Dusty), Izabella Alvarez (Becky), Demetrius Stear (Tommy)
In the small town of Stillwater, Pennsylvania, Samantha is buried by her grandmother in a ritual, before the grandmother slits her own wrists. The sheriff Adam is called in to investigate the grandmother’s death and Samantha’s disappearance. He is then faced with a sudden spate of deaths all over town. It is discovered that these are being caused by wolves, believed to be a new species. As Adam tries to trap and kill the wolf he believes responsible, he comes to realise that what he is dealing with is werewolves. Samantha then makes a return from the dead, having been granted powers by her grandmother that allow her to fight the werewolves.
The Asylum is a company specialising in low-budget films that come out mimicking the titles of big-budget, high-profile releases in the hopes that people won’t look too closely or notice the difference. It is a strategy they call ‘mockbusters’ and has produced titles such as Snakes on a Train (2006), I Am Omega (2007), Transmorphers (2007), Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls (2008), The Day the Earth Stopped (2008), The 18 Year Old Virgin (2009), Paranormal Entity (2009), Battle of Los Angeles (2011), Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) and Age of the Hobbits (2012), among others.
The mid-2000s brought a spate of big screen fairytale films with the likes of Red Riding Hood (2011), Mirror Mirror (2012), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) and Maleficent (2014). Amid this, The Asylum jumped in with their own cheap fairytale adaptations that include Grimm’s Snow White (2012), Jack the Giant Killer (2013), Sleeping Beauty (2014) and a standout horror version of Hansel & Gretel (2013).
Little Dead Rotting Hood is another of these Asylum fairytales. You get the impression that it is an occasion where someone came up with the title first and then decided to make a film to go with it after. There is not much of the original fairytale in the film – there are werewolves, there is a grandmother who now comes steeped in witchcraft lore rather than sits in her cottage waiting to become a victim of the wolf.
There is a Little Red Riding Hood and to make the ‘dead rotting’ part of the title accurate she has been raised from the dead. However, while the title and poster suggest we are in for something more like a zombie Little Red Riding Hood, what we get is merely a ritual that turns her into a magically empowered werewolf slayer. In fact, what we have is less a twisted take on Little Red Riding Hood and more of a standard werewolf film. The Little Red Riding Hood we get has more in common with the resurrected heroines in The Chosen One: Legend of the Raven (1998) or Pussy Kills (2017) than she ever does the character from the fairytale.
If nothing else, this is a film that gets you in the door with its title alone. On the other hand, take away the attention-grabbing title and all that you have is a B movie about werewolf attacks in a small town before the revelation of werewolf clan wars and a magically empowered werewolf hunter. There is nothing particularly notable or exceptional about any of it. The wolf effects are passable, although the CGI of a giant-sized wolf is very so-so.
The film comes with a much better cast than usually fills out the average Asylum film. In the lead is Eric Balfour, an actor I have maintained for some time is long overdue much better parts than he gets. Here he holds the centre of the show with an effortless and affable ease as the figure of friendly authority. There is also Patrick Muldoon, a regular B movie trouper, as one of the deputies, and Marina Sirtis, Counselor Troi from tv’s Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94), as the grandmother.
Director Jared Cohn first appeared for The Asylum with Born Bad (2011) and has become a prolific director for them with the likes of Bikini Spring Break (2012), Hold Your Breath (2012), 12/12/12 (2012), Atlantic Rim (2013), Jailbait (2014), Bound (2015), Evil Nanny (2016), King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (2017), Alien Predator (2018) and Atlantic Rim 2 (2018), while moving out on his own with Buddy Hitchins (2015), Hulk Blood Tapes (2015), The Horde (2016), Death Pool (2017), The Domicile (2017), Halloween Pussy Trap Kill Kill (2017) and Devil’s Revenge (2018). The script is based on a comic-book by Gabriel Campisi who directed The Law episode of The Alien Agenda: Endangered Species (1997) and has since gone on to produce several of Jared Cohn’s films.