Oh, you thought fairy tales were for children? You thought wrong.
Many of the fairy tales made famous by Disney actually have terrifying roots in traditional folklore. Ready to ruin your childhood forever? Check out the creepy stories behind seven of your favorite movies:
1. The Little Mermaid
Everyone adores the story of The Little Mermaid. An adorable, red-headed mermaid named Ariel falls in love with a human prince, Eric. She makes a deal with an evil sea witch named Ursula, and exchanges her voice for legs. After a series of harrowing events, wins Eric's heart and gets her heart back. Everyone is happy.
Well, in the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen, things end a little differently. When the Sea Witch grants the Little Mermaid her legs, it comes with a pretty terrifying set of conditions. Like in the movie, she must give up her voice. But, in the original tale, she's given the ability to dance as no one has danced before... but, it will feel as though she is walking and dancing atop shards of sharp glass.
As in the movie, she must make the Prince fall in love with her before midnight. Since mermaids have no immortal souls, she will disintegrate into seadust and her soul will be gone forever if she fails to make him fall in love with her. Whew. Quite a feat for a girl who can't even talk.
Long story short, the Prince falls in love and marries another girl. The Little Mermaid considers killing the Prince in order to save her own soul... but reconsiders when she remembers how much she truly loves him. At midnight, she disintegrates into seadust... but, because of her good deed, she's granted an immortal soul, which rises from the ocean.
So... win some/lose some?
2. Sleeping Beauty
In the movie, Sleeping Beauty is put to sleep when she pricks her finger on a spindle. For one hundred years, she sleeps and sleeps and sleeps... until the Prince stumbles upon her and reawakens her with a kiss. Sound the bells: true love lives!
Written by Giambattista Basile, the original version isn't quite as romantic. The enchantment ends when a King arrives and rapes her in her sleep. The princess, named Talia, becomes pregnant... and delivers twins while still asleep. One of the children she gives birth to sucks on her finger and removes the poisoned piece of flax that sparked her deep slumber.
It only gets worse.
Apparently, the King had a wife who wasn't too fond of Talia. She tricks Talia into sending her twin children to the castle. Then, the Queen instructs the cook to kill them and make a dinner out of them to feed to the king. The cook, naturally, did not like this plan, so he hid the children and served the King and Queen lamb instead.
In the end, Talia and the King end up together... after burning the Queen alive, of course.
We all know the tale of Cinderella — the ultimate example of fashion leading to true love. Cinderella, a girl left to be raised by her evil stepmother and two jealous stepsisters following her father's untimely death. With the help of her fairy godmother, she charms, ahem, Prince Charming at a ball. Unfortunately, she has to leave at midnight... or the spell will be broken. She rushes out with minutes to spare, leaving her glass slipper behind. The Prince searches the country for the girl whom the shoe fits... until he finds his true love, Cinderella.
Well, in the original Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, those evil stepsisters went to great lengths to fool Prince Charming into believing the slipper belonged to them.
Great. Bloody. Lengths.
One of the stepsisters cut off her toes, and the other cut off a portion of her heel in order to force their feet into those teeny tiny glass slippers. Fortunately, the prince didn't fall for their illusions, and somehow managed to find Cinderella after all — saving her from her completely insane stepsisters.
As punishment for their cruelty, the stepsisters face a harsher punishment than mutilating their own feet. Doves from Heaven attack the two evil-doers, striking them in the eyes, and blinding them permanently.
4. Beauty and the Beast
Who could forget the Disney version of this sweet tale? Belle, a beautiful bookworm, in an agrees to move into a foreign castle with the Beast to save her elderly father. In a bizarre twist of fate, the Beast just happens to be a handsome, charming Prince placed under a curse by a devious enchantress! Aww! The two fall in love, and all ends well.
Well, in the original tale, written by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Bella doesn't just have a sweet father... but also two evil stepsisters. When she returns home from the castle to visit her father, the stepsisters convince Belle to stay longer than she should. Their secret motive? They hope that her prolonged visit will anger the Beast to the point that he eats her alive.
With family like this, who needs enemies?
5. Little Red Riding Hood
In the well-known version of Little Red Riding Hood, a mean wolf tricks Red's grandmother and hides her in a closet. When Red arrives, he dresses up as the grandma and fools the girl into believing he's her sweet, old granny. Then, he eats her.
Pretty horrific, right? Well, the Brothers Grimm version of the tale is even worse.
In their version, the wolf eats both the grandma and Red. Then, a hunter comes to the rescue and opens the now-sleeping wolf with an axe. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother emerged, disheveled but somehow unharmed. Then, the three of them fill the wolf's body with heavy stones. When he awakes, he attempts to flee — but the stones cause him to collapse and die. Gruesome.
6. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
We all know the story: the Evil Queen banishes Snow White because she jealous of her stepdaughter's beauty. She attempts to poison Snow White using a poisonous apple, but a handsome prince rescues her from a coma. The queen falls off a cliff to her death, and Snow White, her prince, and the seven dwarfs live happily ever after.
Well, the Evil Queen faces a much harsher punishment in the Brothers Grimm version of the tale — after attempting to kill Snow White not once, not twice, but three times. Her several unsuccessful attempts at murder lead to particular brutal punishment: death by dancing. Snow White and her new husband, the Prince, condemn the Queen to slip on a pair of glowing-hot iron shoes. They then force her to dance in the shoes until she drops dead.
Sleep tight, kids.
7. The Fox And The Hound
Who could forget the sweet story of The Fox and A Hound? You know, the story of two friends who didn't know they were supposed to be enemies? Spoiler alert: at the end of the movie, the Hound (Copper) protects his childhood friend the Fox (Tod) from his master and a bear. All ends well: Tod settles down with a nice vixen and a litter of little foxes, and Copper goes on with his life as a working dog.
Well, in the original tale, Copper, a bloodthirsty hunting dog, seeks revenge on Tod for the accidental death of another dog in his master's hunting gang. Along with the Master, Copper basically annihilates everything and everyone that Tod cares about, including his fox family.
In the climax of the novel, the Hound hunts the Fox in an epic chase that ends with the Fox dying of pure exhaustion. The Hound survives, but at the end of the novel, the Master shoots him in the face.