If anything can drag me from my unintentional hiatus, it’s going to be the inimitable Maria Lewis and her brilliantly horrifying new book. In anticipation of It Came From the Deep, Maria has made my day by putting together a list of other brilliantly horrifying things.
It Came From The Deep is essentially a twist on The Little Mermaid, Hans Christen Andersen’s classic fairytale. And by twist, I mean ‘thrown into a washing machine with Creature From The Black Lagoon’. Here’s some rad ’twisted fairytales’ FROM across the spectrum of pop culture, from films and television, to comic books and novels.
Neil Gaiman’s wonderfully creepy and demented take on Alice In Wonderland remains one of the great modern fairytales. Building up ‘the grass isn’t always greener on the other side’ message in careful layers, it’s a story that the more often your revisit it the more you discover tucked between the pages. The stop-motion animated movie version of Gaiman’s novel remains one of the most competent book-to-movie adaptations ever.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
Okay sure, on the surface Buffy was supposed to be a twist on the horror movie trope of the perky blonde walking home alone at night who gets chased by a killer. But through its seven seasons on television, continued seasons in comic books, spin-off graphic novels and books, Buffy The Vampire Slayer also gave us some fascinating riffs on fairytale legends. Take Gingerbread from season three, which treats Hansel and Gretel as projections of a demon who feeds off fear, mass hysteria and witch hunts in seemingly normal towns. Or – arguably the greatest Buffy episode of all time – Hush, where terrifyingly well-dressed fairytale monsters come to life to cut out seven hearts as Sunnydale is plunged into silence.
Kicking off Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder was a refreshing and contemporary take on Cinderella. Featuring teenagers, technology, romance, science and cyborgs, fairytales haven’t been mined in the YA world as much as you would expect. For every Ella Enchanted, there’s dozens more that fall by the wayside. Cinder remains one of the more memorable entries.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
There’s Gothic elements to everything Guillermo del Toro touches and Pan’s Labyrinth is no different. A fairytale set during a Spanish rebel uprising doesn’t sound like the most enchanting of stories, but del Toro is one of our greatest living storytellers for a reason. Equal parts fearsome and fantastical, it follows a young girl who learns that she might be a long lost princess and can reclaim her throne if she completes a serious of increasingly challenging tasks. Although the central character is a child, this isn’t a movie for kids.
The Princess and the Pony (2015)
The fairytale I’ll be shoving down every kids throat from now until infinity. After gaining a huge following with her web comics, Kate Beaton tackled a story for a much younger audience about an aspiring warrior princess who dreams of owning a ferocious warhorse. What she gets instead is a fat, farting pony. Not only super sweet and genuinely hilarious, it’s a very fresh take on the ‘princess’ stories we’re fed from a young age.
Fables (2002 – 2015)
It’s hard to find a darker take on fairytales than the long-running comic book series Fables from DC Comics imprint Vertigo. Grim, gritty and gigantic in its scope, it looks at a version of New York populated with fairytale characters who are struggling to adjust to reality. There’s the Big Bad Wolf (Bigby Wolf), the deputy mayor Snow White, Prince Charming, Boy Blue and countless others navigating very adult storylines. Telltale Games did an adaptation of the comic – The Wolf Among Us – which is still one of the best and visually striking video games in recent years.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
This was totally shit-canned at the time of its release, but it is definitely worth a revisit. Gemma Arterton and everyone’s least-favourite Avenger Jeremy Renner play adult Hansel and Gretel, who have now grown up into witch hunters after a fateful encounter in a gingerbread house when they were kids. This is from Tommy Wirokla, who’s a really interesting filmmaker: his Netflix original movie What Happened To Monday with Noomi Rapace is one of the best movies of 2017. He first broke through with a short called Kill Buljo, which was a parody of Kill Bill, and he uses that same recipe with Hansel and Gretel where it’s clear he loves the source material but has found a way to spin it out in a completely new direction that’s stylish as well as not too serious. Bonus points for having some of the creepiest fairytale monsters and Hansel with diabetes.
It Came From the Deep is out on October 31 (which is just about the most perfect release date ever) and you should 1000% go pick yourself up a copy!