What If… is a self-indulgent look at how things could have been. I take an event or a rumour and let my imagination run wild. It’s rarely based on fact and completely based on guess-work and conjecture.
With the recent announcement that Chloe Grace Moretz was taking the lead role in a live-action version of The Little Mermaid, it got me thinking. This version is supposed to be closer to the darker, more mature fairytale that Hans Christian Anderson originally wrote. Many people will still be thinking about the red-haired teenager with the beautiful voice though.
What if Disney made the more mature versions of classic fairytales though? Rather than adapt them into quaint, memorable animated classics, we get twisted versions of the stories we grew up loving. I think they’d look a little bit like this;
Beauty and the Beast
The most obvious and easiest one to change. Beauty and the Beast is a love story between a beautiful young woman and a prince trapped inside the body of a huge, bear/lion creation. Eventually Belle (Beauty) tames the Beast.
The horror version sees a desperate Belle go to the mansion to rescue her imprisoned Father, only to be terrorised by the monstrous, vengeful and terrifying Beast! No love story, just a battle to survive in a huge mansion, full of inanimate objects with the trapped souls of those that have wronged the monster. Belle’s only chance of escape is the daring Lumiere who is leading a mob to rescue the “princess.”
With a prick of her finger on an enchanted spinning wheel, Sleeping Beauty found herself cursed to sleep until true love’s kiss set her free. The prince battles huge vines and a scary witch to eventually reach and rescue the damsel-in-distress.
This one would have little adaptation. Maleficent did a pretty good job of making the witch scary so no major changes there. You could have the Prince come up against some pretty horrible things as he sets out on his journey to save the princess.
Instead, we could add the nightmares the curse has trapped Sleeping Beauty in. What if she was reliving terrible events, trapped in her worst fears or stalked by a Freddie Kruger style being, screaming to be woken-up!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The original is a pretty dark Disney film anyway, with a deformed hero, a deranged villain and a story of lust and sanctuary. Of course there are songs and funny gargoyles but the leap to horror wouldn’t be a big one.
The horror version could see Quasimodo as a crazed hunchback trapped in Notre Dame. He talks to the gargoyles and obsessively rings the bells. Esmerelda, a gypsy accused of witchcraft, seeks sanctuary in the famous cathedral and is then stalked and attacked by the lust-filled hunchback.
Esmerelda must try to escape Quasimodo and Notre Dame but could find herself facing death for witchcraft if she did!
The Jungle Book
The original Jungle Book is one of my favourites. The story of a boy raised by a panther who then confronts a tiger is a classic, with some great songs and memorable moments.
The horror version wouldn’t be too hard to achieve. Instead of having the boy raised in the jungle, have him abandoned in the jungle, young enough to understand his peril, not old enough to get out alive.
There are no cuddly animals here. Mowgli must escape panthers, snakes, apes and bears before he is stalked by his deadliest enemy, a tiger. To be honest, the new movie doesn’t look too dissimilar to this, with some pretty intimidating looking orang-utans and a convincing tiger.
Overall, not sure these would be the classic movies that their animated counterparts have become but they do make for some interesting plots. It seems it isn’t too difficult to make a beloved fairy tale into something much darker and we will see that in all it’s glory when The Little Mermaid is released next year.
Original art and pictures can be found at these sites. I do not own the copyright to any of the images and use with thanks to their original creators.
Image 2 – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/535646949406997417/
Image 3 – http://catillest.com/tag/horror/
Image 4 – http://www.deviantart.com/art/Hunchback-of-Notre-Dame-Dark-Stories-347875580