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Fairy Tales that Would Make Fantastic Horror Movies

A Dash of Fantasy has the Ability to Enhance the Horror

Horror has drawn from fairy tales countless times, highlighting a fear not usually likened to the story. Hansel and Gretel is an example of this, being retold from a horror perspective three times: Hansel and Gretel (2007), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), and Gretel & Hansel (2020). With the classical fairy tales brought to the world by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, the industry has been gifted with numerous starting points for ideas. Disney, as a monopoly itself, has garnered countless stories involving princesses that all carry a level of potential horror retelling that, through research, is unexplored. 

Why more people don’t take from the past and create their own versions of these classical tales is unknown. Whether it be fear of ridicule, the wrath of Disney, or just general disinterest, the stories below are all ripe for the taking, each exhibiting a retelling that would give its original counterpart more weight and change how horror is told.

Cinderella (1950)

Image courtesy of Consequence. Ilene Woods as Cinderella.

Cinderella from the titular movie, is one of the mainstay characters in fairy tale lore, originally written by the Grimm brothers and then adapted by Disney and numerous companies after that. In her original tale, Cinderella experiences pain and suffering at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters. With both endings, Cinderella marries the prince and is given her happy ending while those who caused her suffering get their comeuppances. Her story is ripe for a horror retelling, with her narrative as a character presenting the perfect way for a psychological horror film with Cinderella cracking under the weight of everything she suffers before she snaps. In the horror version, Cinderella’s story could be retold as a mixture of Pearl (2022) and Black Swan (2010), a girl who tries her best but in the end is continuously shut down, leading to a break in her psyche where she becomes a threat to all those around her.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Image courtesy of Static. Mary Costa as Aurora.

Aurora, otherwise known to the general public as Sleeping Beauty, was created in a poem by Giambattista Basile, which was then adapted by Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers, followed by Disney. In her following adaptations, Aurora isn’t even the main character of her story, being subjugated to the damsel in distress. With her most memorable iteration being Sleeping Beauty by Disney where she was only on screen for a time of 17 minutes and 52 seconds, Aurora’s horror story feels as if it shouldn’t be her own. Therefore, for the history of her character, the story of Sleeping Beauty gives way to the idea of a horror movie centered around possession and the autonomy of one’s own body. In the horror version, Aurora’s story could be retold to the audience with a mixture of Sinister (2010) and Evil Dead (2013), creating a tale of a girl who loses herself before gaining it back and overtaking the evil that consumed her.

The Little Mermaid (1989)

Image courtesy of Slashfilm. Jodi Benson as Ariel.

Ariel from The Little Mermaid was first crafted by Hans Christian Andersen of the same name and later adapted by Disney. In her adaptations, Ariel is often shown as a bright, naive girl interested in living outside the ocean. Ariel gets this wish and is granted the opportunity to live on land with the love of her life, Prince Eric. Her story is ripe and just waiting to be retold from a horror perspective. She can start the movie as a deadly siren seducing sailors to their deaths, or she can be given the narrative of once again being tricked by Ursula. In the horror retelling, Ariel can fall victim to Ursula’s trappings one more time, attempting to release Eric of her spell. In doing this, Ariel would need to give up her abilities and become a siren. Told with a mixture of Siren (2016) and Jennifer’s Body (2009), Ariel could grow resentful and feast upon men, intent on killing those she views as unfaithful.

Beauty and The Beast (1991)

Image courtesy of Rotoscopers. Paige O’Hara as Belle and Robby Benson as The Beast.

Beauty and the Beast was initially created by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve, followed by adaptations from Disney. Through her adaptations, Belle’s intellect and compassion are often the most prevalent part of her character and, therefore, a story that highlights that would be best for this retelling. In writing her story with a horror spin, Belle’s life could begin with her replacement of her father in the Beast’s prison. Throughout the story, we can see his harsh behavior towards her and how he forces everyone to do his bidding. Although possible to be played like a straight monster movie, taking a page from the book of a sympathetic killer seems like the best possible outcome for the movie. With inspirations pulled from Barbarian (2022) and The Shape of Water (2017), Belle can begin to see the humanity in the Beast before having to kill him to save herself and the town.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Image courtesy of Wallpaper Access. Anika Noni Rose as Tiana and Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen.

Tiana from The Princess and the Frog was originally written as ‘The Frog Prince’ by the Grimm brothers and then adapted by Disney into what we know it today. Tiana is one of the most ambitious characters adapted by Disney, maintaining a high level of work ethic and goals that have yet to be matched. Her horror story could be adapted similar to that of Auroras where she experiences a possession, this time at the hands of Dr.Facilier. However, a more interesting plot for Tiana would be her overthrowing the voodoo man and becoming a voodoo queen. Her ambition and drive eventually get the best of her, and she ends up taking too much on, having her business crash to the ground, with nowhere left to turn, she goes to the spirits and asks for their help. With a mixture of The Babysitter (2017) and The Witch (2015), Tiana could begin a downward spiral where she must commit heinous deeds to keep her dreams afloat.

Tangled (2010) 

Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. Mandy Moore as Rapunzel and Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider.

Rapunzel from Tangled was originally written by the Grimm Brothers and later adapted by Disney into what it is today. Rapunzel, unlike most characters on this list, was created with powers, having long magical hair that gives her the ability to heal those around her with a simple verse of a song. Therefore, when it came to thinking of what kind of horror retelling she could have, the complete opposite of what her powers stand for is what came to mind, and was an ability to take away life. During her story, we would be able to see the way Flynn’s “betrayal” affected her with her turn on her mother and the Stabbington Brothers. With a mixture of Carrie (1976) and Midsommar (2019), Rapunzel could experience such intense heartbreak that, in a way, she strips herself of emotions and strips those around her of life.

Frozen (2013)

Image courtesy of Inside the Magic. Idina Menzel as Elsa.

Elsa from Frozen was originally written by Hans Christian Andersen as The Snow Queen which was later taken by Disney and made into Frozen. Unlike her counterparts, Elsa was originally a villain and not a heroine like she was later made out to be in her future iterations. For that reason, Elsa’s story with a horror twist doesn’t only focus on her but her sister Anna as well who in this scenario will play the role of the final girl. This version of the story would follow a narrative where Elsa’s powers had overtaken her mind and led her down a path of destruction against Arendelle. Due to this series of events, Anna takes control of the kingdom and leads a group to confront and subsequently take down Elsa to free their home of the curse. With a mixture of Carrie (1976) and The Voices (2014), the end would have Elsa sacrifice herself to save the home she once loved.

Frozen (2013) Official Walt Disney Studios Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.