As kids when we fearfully checked for monsters under our bed at night, our parents would read out the sweet harmless fairytales of Cinderella and Snow White to make us feel safe. But, if we were ever narrated the original version of any of these stories, we would have happily hidden under the bed with the same monster before hearing any of those blood-curdling fairytales again!
The children stories we hear are a diluted, filtered and majorly censored version of the earlier tales which I’m sure were authored by a sadist who enjoyed the sight of mentally scarred children, running around shrieking in fear. If you keep wanting to believe in the stories you have heard since childhood, stop reading. If you don’t, here are some horrifying stories fit to be made into a Lars von Trier film:
1. Sleeping Beauty
The King kisses the Sleeping Beauty, hence, breaking the curse and they live happily ever after.
This is the story we have been fed all these years but few know that this is a glossed up version and how!
In the original Basile’s version too, the King kisses Sleeping Beauty but doesn’t stop at just that. He goes on to rape her while she is asleep and leaves her behind to give birth to two sons. It is only when one of the kids sucks the curse out of her thumb is when she wakes up. Believe it or not the creepiness doesn’t end here. There is this whole plot of the jealous Queen trying to cook and feed the two sons to the King. Still want to call it a children’s story?
2. Little Red Riding Hood
I believe this is the story that unleashed the favorite parental order of all times to the world:
“Do not talk to strangers.”
In the version we know, Little Red Riding Hood on her way to her granny stupidly tells the wolf all her plans in spite of her mother warning her about strangers. She gets into trouble but is eventually saved by a woodcutter. Happy ending?? You Wish!
The writers of the earlier versions apparently did not believe in happy endings. If you don’t listen to your parents, you must die! And that is what happened to our Little Red Riding Hood. First, her granny was killed by the wolf, then she was made to eat her granny, strip her clothes, get into bed with the wolf and eventually get eaten by it. One of the versions even has her distracting the wolf with a strip-tease! The first item song in history? In any case, a great fairy tale to be read to kids, if you really despise kids.
Getting a 100 percent certified rating on Rotten Tomatoes is no child’s play, even for a children’s film. Disney’s “Pinocchio” made major alterations to Pinocchio’s character, to make it more likeable and that version is what we mostly remember of the boy with the wooden nose. But Collodi’s Pinocchio was a “wretched”, “rogue”, “rascal” character created to serve as a warning to the readers.
In the original tale, The Fox and The Cat execute Pinocchio by binding his limbs, passing a noose around his neck and hanging him from a tree. I guess the people then didn’t believe in letting the punishment fit the crime. Fibbed? Hang him from the tree. Spoke to strangers? Feed her to the wolf. Well, at least Pinocchio didn’t have to perform a strip-tease before being killed, if that is any consolation.
The most popular fairy tale of all times, Cinderella, isn’t devoid of its share of darkness. Cinderella, the most “victimised” character created ever, is almost a synonym of “orphan” but the Grimm brother’s version has Cinderella’s dad alive and kicking: at times literally kicking Cinderella to help his wife with the humiliation. A scandalized Disney just chose to keep it simple and kill the un-fairytale-y father in its adaptation. We all know of the two step-sisters trying to force-fit the glass slipper into their feet. But very few know that Disney’s version conveniently skipped over the part where the two sisters cut off their toes in order to fit into the slipper. If it hadn’t, the story of Cinderella would have had a different moral altogether:
What’s a little self-mutilation girls if you can get a rich Prince out of it?
The original version also has the step mother’s and step sisters’ eyes being pecked out by a pigeon! Had the studio decided to stick with the original script, Cinderella today would have been a cult slasher flick.
5. The Frog Prince
We all have kissed a few frogs before finding our Prince Charming. Some of us must be in the middle of the gruesome process. The phrase “kissing a frog” comes from a popular tale where the Princess kisses a frog and it turns into a Prince. I used to always wonder what must have possessed the Princess to consider molesting a poor little amphibious toad. I mean, I have never just randomly decided to lick a lizard or hump my guitar! After a little research, I found out that the original Princess had no such ridiculous brain wave.
In the original version, the Princess was so disgusted by the slimy creature that she kept hurling it against walls until the frog changed its form and turned into a Prince. So she basically beat him into Prince-hood. Makes more sense this way. This story has a moral to all the men out there:
Listen to us if you do not want to be a frog all your life. We know what’s good for you.
6. The Little Mermaid
Remember Ariel? The little mermaid who falls in love with a Prince, takes on a human form for a few days, wins her love and lives happily ever after! You have either seen the 1989 Disney film or the nineties TV series.
Because, the original Danish fairytale is as dark as a “before” picture of a fairness cream advertisement. The Danish mermaid gets her tongue slashed in exchange for a pair of legs, which hurt as if “she is walking on sharp knives and her toe is bleeding”. All this to meet a Prince, who ends up marrying another girl with fewer organ transplants. And our little mermaid, out of sheer heartbreak, disintegrates into sea foam. As horrifying as it is, one has to give it points for being a more realistic version.
“When the miller’s daughter guessed his name correctly, Rumpelstiltskin ran away angrily and never came back.”
Doesn’t sound like a great “happy ending”, but the original end of the tale will make you wish this was true.
In the old version, Rumpelstiltskin gets so angry at his name being correctly guessed that he tears himself into two parts with his bare hands. I mean, I have lived all my life with a pretty embarrassing pet name and hence, understand Rumpel-what’s-his-skin’s anger at his name becoming public knowledge. But this certainly was an overreaction! Not a story to be told to kids who don’t approve of the names they were born with.
8. Pied Piper of Hamelin
The story of Pied Piper even in its censored form is pretty disturbing, with all the rat drowning and children disappearing. But, the cherry on this bizarre cake was filtered out to make the story more suitable for children.
One version of the story talks about Pied Piper taking all the kids to a beautiful land where he “had his wicked way”. Another one ends with him drowning all the children into a river like he did with the rats. Your cousin’s children jumping down your throat at this year’s family get-together? Tell them this story and they will never set another foot, even near you.