Fairy Tales That Terrify and Unsettle


Disney's Maleficent is a clasic fairy tale, telling the story of Sleeping Beauty from a different perspective. We learn about a young fairy who grows up to become the powerful protector of her land against enemy invaders, only to be betrayed by someone she trusts. It's an unforgivable act that affects her profoundly and eventually prompts her to place a curse upon a newborn child, with unexpected consequences. Angelina Jolie's portrayal of Maleficent will change everyone's view of the character, formerly known as "Disney's greatest villain."

The movie will thrill and delight audiences from young to old, but its darker edges may terrify and unsettle those expecting a more conventional magical fantasy. Here are six more unusual twists on classic fairy tales that are sure to disturb your dreams. 


6. Big Bad Wolves (2014)

Big Bad Wolves

It sounds like a revenge flick, as the paths of a police detective and an angry father cross in a remote location where a suspected serial killer is bound and tortured. But the material is presented in a sometimes grisly, sometimes blackly comic, and always thoughtful fashion, making for a very unsettling and uncomfortable experience. It plays with our memories of the fairy tale "big bad wolf" and questions who, exactly, is the villain. (Squeamish viewers should beware the explicit violence.)


5. Red Riding Hood (2011)

Red Riding Hood

Amanda Seyfried is caught between two lovers in an updated fairy tale that is far more potentially frightening for children than adults. Still, there are plenty of werewolves and witches for horror buffs to sink their fangs into.


4. The Brothers Grimm (2005)

The Brothers Grimm

Terry Gilliam featured nightmare imagery -- the gingerbread man, for example, gets a bite taken out of him in one squirm-inducing scene -- in telling a fantastic story about con artists (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) who come face to face with a real magical curse. It may sound like a fairy tale, but it's just the truth.


3. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Cheeky and fast moving, this updated fairy tale mashes together action, humor and a deep appreciation for just how terrifying wicked old witches can be. Burn, baby, burn!


2. The Company of Wolves (1984)

The Company of Wolves

Director Neil Jordan has often explored historical and legendary fantasies, but seldom as effectively as he did in this early effot that cast a curious eye on the sexuality in the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.


1. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth

A young girl who loves fairy tales begins spinning her own in order to deal with the day-to-day horrors of living under a fascist regime. Guillermo del Toro's mesmerizing fantasy has the hard bite of reality, softened by dreamy landscapes and monstrous creatures who offer the promise of freedom.

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