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Failed Fairy Tale Pitches: An Expert Shoots Down Our Unimaginably Bad Re-Imaginings

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Jan 26, 2013 | 9:05am EST

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters

You don’t have to follow a trail of breadcrumbs to understand the current cinema trends. Fairy tales are fairly enormous box office draws at the moment. But you can’t just narratively mutter your way from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after.” These days, you have to go back to the source and find some element around which to base an imaginative re-imagining. Tired of simply writing about the revised fairy tales we saw in theaters, we decided it was high time to make one of our own. The problem is that we’ve only really seen the Disney versions.

Luckily, we have an ace in the hole. Actually, we shouldn’t call the library at the local college a hole, they frown on that. We made an appointment to consult with a bona fide fairy tale expert. Catherine Burke O’Malley, in addition to being a contributor to Spill.com and a regular cast member on their League of Extremely Ordinary Gentlemen podcast, holds a MA in Medieval History from Syracuse University. She inexplicably agreed to meet with us as we ran through our best pitches. She…had a few notes.

How about a movie centering on the queen from Snow White? I know what you're thinking; there have already been multiple Snow White re-imagings, right? This one is going to examine the idea that maybe she was just misunderstood, and that the spoiled Snow White was the real villain. How do we know that apple was poisoned? Couldn't it have just been a peace offering and Snow White was simply overcome by the queen's generosity?

Cat: Are you kidding me? Who has ever been so "overcome by generosity" that they passed out? I mean, even the Hope Diamond wouldn't have that effect...

Snow White invented The Hope Diamond?

Cat: No! Besides, we've already got evidence that the Queen had it out for Snow White all along. Along with that apple fiasco, The Queen made two previous attempts on her life. First, she tried to asphyxiate her with new corset ribbons, then she tried an absorbed poison via a hair comb. The woman is insane; when Snow White is revived, and marries the Prince, the Queen chokes on her own rage, and dies from a self-induced stroke. If anything, what you've got here is a good idea for a movie about a crazy royal who is actually a serial killer and master of disguise...

Easy there, don’t want you to choke on your own rage or anything.

Cat: What?

I didn’t say anything. Idea two! Let's go back to the source and do The Little Mermaid as it was intended...an 80s body swap comedy. She was a fish at the aquarium, but she trades places with the most popular girl at school to try and get with Joey Prince. A kindly night janitor, who studies magic, assists her. It'll be a laugh riot.

Cat: No, no, no. This story is the farthest from a comedy you can get. It's absolute tragedy! If you want to go back to the source, it's about a girl who is so in love with a man and desperate for immortality that she lets a woman cut out her tongue and assumes a form that causes her excruciating pain with every step she takes.

Her tongue is cut out? Super gross.

Cat: What, you thought her voice was just "magically" removed?

No, I thought it had to do with a locket and a song about being a part of their world.

Cat: (Rolling her eyes all the way around) Then, when it turns out that he was in love with someone else all along, she refuses to return to her former life, as that would have meant murdering the man she loved, and commits suicide instead. Yeah, that's a laugh riot right there.

I get the sense that you’re being sarcastic so let’s move on. We’re toying with a version of Sleeping Beauty that focuses on the wonderful dreams she had under the spell. I mean seriously, how bad could a long nap really be?

Cat: You do know how that one really ends, right?

Let’s assume I know practically nothing.

Cat: Yeah, I'm sure she had great dreams while she was asleep. Dreams of a handsome Prince, dreams in which a virginal Princess could indulge in some sexytimes that she wouldn't actually be able to have in real life...

Right? Exactly!

Cat: Except THOSE WEREN'T DREAMS! She didn't wake to "love's first kiss," she woke to labor pains, because she was in the process of giving birth to twins!

But if she was asleep how did she get pre—OH! Ok, let's get serious for a moment. We tell the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, but paint him as he really was: the greatest children's rights advocate in history. We're thinking Liam Neeson as the Piper, saving kids from workhouses.

Cat: Have you even read this story? Have you read any of these stories? Or have you just been watching cartoons all day?

If I’m being totally honest? Cartoons.

Cat: The Pied Piper actually led all those kids off to be sold as slaves. Workhouses would have been mansions compared to what those kids probably went through. Okay, I'll have to give you a little more leeway on this one; you couldn't have known about the background to that story just by reading it. But still, you have to do some research on these! Fairy tales aren't kid stuff! Now, if you want to talk about working these up into a horror series, I'm all in!

No, I don’t see a horror movie selling tickets. Very well, we’ll go with our best one yet. Cinderella: The Foot Fetish Files.

Cat: Get out of my office. [Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]

More:

n Defense of Fairy Tales: Why These Films Should Be Embraced, Not Banished

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