Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

Little Red Riding Hood

Today’s Trillion Dollar Movie is a dubbed fairy tale from Mexico that goes by two different titles in English, alternately known as Tom Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood or as Little Red Riding Hood And the Monsters. One thing’s for certain. You’ve probably never seen a fairy tale this cheesy or this much fun. It was one of three Little Red Riding Hood movies that writer-director Roberto Rodriguez made in the early 1960s at Mexico City’s Churubusco-Azteca Studios, all starring Maria Gracia, nicknamed “La Niña México,” as the fairy tale heroine.

An American producer, Kenneth Gordon Murray, bought the rights to distribute the pictures in the United States. Murray specialized in acquiring fairy tale and fantasy titles from Mexico, Germany and Eastern Europe, making cheap English dubs, and then marketing them for kids stateside. Some of his other titles included Rumpelstiltskin, Santa’s Magic Kingdom and The Golden Goose.

Little Red Riding Hood And the Monsters from 1962 is one of Murray’s weirder and more surreal releases, combining fantasy elements of the original fairy tale with campy slapstick comedy and Gothic horror. Little Red, her friend Tom Thumb and Stinky the Skunk embark on a quest in a haunted forest to defeat the Queen of Badness and her cadre of monsters, including Hurricane, Carrot Head, vampires, robots, witches, a fire-breathing dragon and a two-headed Siamese freak.

One reviewer succinctly captured its charms, “An awful, jaw-droppingly bad ‘kiddie’ movie where the beloved characters of Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Thumb are put into a creepy, disturbing monster movie with hideous costumes and terrible make-up and sets that fifth graders could make better with paper and scissors. The dubbing of this Mexican-made oddity is so off and so badly cast that when the creepy kid playing Little Red starts singing, the dubbed voice sounds like a cabaret singer in her late 50s. You just have to see it to believe it. Some of the animal costumes are so molting looking and gross, it actually looks as if the fur has fleas or scabies.”

Murray himself dubbed the voice of Stinky the Skunk, whose high-pitched squeaks sound an awful lot like Alvin from the Chipmunks. Sad to say, but the Internal Revenue Service put Murray out of commission. He got into tax trouble, and the IRS seized all of his movies, taking them out of circulation. Before the Feds could hear the case, Murray died of a heart attack in 1979.

Hope you enjoy the show, and return again next Friday for another Trillion $ Movie.

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