Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters offers us a take on the Hansel and Gretel story that strays from and expands upon the source material in interesting ways. Most fairy tales, despite their often R-rated origins, have to sit at the kiddie table when it comes to movie adaptations, but here's one that treats us to enough gore and violence that youngsters will have to sit this one out for once. Here are some other fairy tales we'd like to see get the grown-up treatment.
There's so much unexplored R-rated potential with the Rapunzel story. A witch hides a girl in a tower. The girl's a freak. Her hair is so long and kung fu strong that you can literally climb it like rope. She starts getting it on with a handsome guy at nighttime. Eventually the witch finds out and kicks the young guy out of the tower. He falls into a thorn bush that blinds him. Seriously, little thorns tear out his eyeballs.
What part of that paragraph is not blessedly R rated? All that's missing is a bloody death for the witch. In some versions she forever strands herself in the tower when she cuts the handsome man's hair rope. A modern R-rated version should strive for more.
The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs
A boy is born supposedly destined to marry the king's daughter. The king is like, "That guy?" and repeatedly tries to kill the boy. Fate saves him each time, however, and eventually he comes to marry the big guy's daughter. The king makes the boy travel to Hell and get three hairs from the Devil before he'll let him marry the princess. He succeeds.
So there you go. The near murder of a child, Hell, the Devil, and an evil king. R-rated opportunities galore. Disney hasn't gotten its filthy mitts on this one yet, so Hollywood's first go at the material might as well be an awesome, gory one.
How Some Children Played at Slaughtering
You can tell this one is good just by the title.
How Some Children Played at Slaughtering is actually two mini-stories, so you could probably add one more and make it a gory anthology. The idea behind both stories involve a game where one kid plays the butcher and one kid plays the pig. But because they're really stupid, the butcher kid actually slits the pig kid's throat.
In the first story, a council makes the kid choose between an apple and a dollar. If he chooses the dollar they'll kill him because it means he understood his murderous actions. He takes the apple.
The second story is the same except, after the murder, the mother of the slain boy leaves her bathing baby to see what happened. She kills the butcher boy out of revenge, only to discover her baby dead in the bath, which leads to her suicide. Then her husband dies because, well, what else is he supposed to do?
The Robber Bridegroom
A daughter is betrothed to a rich suitor she doesn't know. When she goes to visit his house for the first time (following a trail of ashes) she discovers that he and his friends are actually cannibalistic murderers when she witnesses them bring home and eat a captured girl. By pocketing the poor girl's cut-off finger and following home her own, second trail of lentils, she gets the attention of the authorities, and her would-be husband and his cannibal pals are all burned to death.
As far as being R rated is concerned, I could have stopped at the part where a bunch of guys murder and eat some lady. It actually sounds pretty similar to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with more gore potential since we also get to see all the cannibals die at the end.
The Juniper Tree
Lots of fairy tales deal with bad stepmothers, but The Juniper Tree might have the worst one. Jealous of her husband's firstborn son, she closes his head in a chest, decapitating him, then ties it back on and asks her innocent daughter to slap him. When she does, the head comes off, and she assumes the guilt for his death. Then the stepmother cooks him in a stew for his father to eat. Eventually, the kid turns into a bird who drops a big rock on the mom, crushing her to death.
So we have child decapitation, not once but twice, cannibalism makes a welcome appearance, and the whole thing gets wrapped up with the stepmother's body broken and crumpled under a rock. Sounds like R-rated heaven.
Frau Trude is really short and there's not much to it, which would give filmmakers plenty of opportunities to fill the blanks with fun, R-rated goodness.
It's basically about a snotty girl who wants to visit an old lady named Frau Trude and won't listen when her parents tell her what a bad idea that is. They were right. Frau Trude turns the girl into a block of wood and warms herself as the little girl burns. The end. It's always fun when the bad guys win.
The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
This story is basically about a kind of snotty adolescent who cannot shudder and wants to learn how to be afraid of things. His journeys basically take him to lots of scary situations that don't phase him, such as a visit from a ghost and a night spent under the shadow of some hanged men (who he accidentally catches on fire).
The story's big centerpiece involves three nights spent in a haunted house where everything tries to kill the boy, though he consistently fails to care. Eventually he gets married and his wife throws cold water on him, thus inadvertently teaching him to shudder.
It's not the best story in the world, but it could be reworked slightly to maximize all the nasty stuff the kid goes through on his journey to find fear. The potential puts it on the wish list for sure.
Fitcher's Bird is almost too weird to describe. A sorcerer takes the oldest of three sisters to his house, telling her she can't enter one room in particular and must carry with her and keep safe an egg. She breaks the egg and enters the forbidden room, in which she finds tons of hacked-up bodies. So he kills her. Then the same thing happens with her little sister.
The third, youngest sister, however, doesn't drop the egg. In fact, she puts her sisters' hacked-up bodies back together and sends them back home. Then she tricks the sorcerer and all his evil friends to attending a dinner party, during which her brothers burn the house down, killing them all.
It's kind of like the story of Bluebeard but with a lot more random weirdness. With a little help, it would make a great R-rated fairy tale.
The core conflict running through Cinderella may be whether or not she gets to marry the prince and leave behind her horrible life. But the main emotion ignored by most adaptations is revenge.
That evil stepmom and her awful brat daughters tortured Cinderella most of her life. The Grimm version gives us a little retribution as the two evil sisters must mutilate their massive horse feet to get Cinderella's slipper to fit. Then birds peck out their eyes. Add some horrible fate for the stepmom and we're in business.
This one's not very violent, but it has potential anyway. A poor guy wants a godfather for his child. God offers to do it, but the guy says no. The Devil offers, too, but the guy doesn't like him either. Finally, Death offers and he's like, "Seems okay to me!"
Death takes the boy on all his house calls. The two have an arrangement: if death stands at the foot of someone's bed, that person will die. If he stands at the head, the boy can give them medicine and save their life.
Fine, but soon enough the kid starts screwing up. A rich king is chosen to die, but the guy saves him. Death warns him not to do that again. But then a hot lady is doomed to die and he saves her as well. After that, Death kills his ass. You'd have to add a lot of stuff to make this a worthwhile feature, but the general setup seems like it could be worth the trouble.