Nightmare Fuel/Fairy Tales

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Fairy tales are considered to be the most typical example of children's stories. They are respected as being part of traditional world culture and have been retold over centuries and centuries. Even today parents don't have any problem telling these tales to their offspring.

The problem is: fairy tales were never exclusively meant for children. In the centuries before the 19th century adults didn't see children as beings that were that different from adults. This meant that grownups would tell stories to each other without being troubled that their kids would hear things not meant for their innocent ears. Gruesome scenes or sexual innuendo were prominent in many of these ancient tales. Despite attempts to make these tales more child friendly by Grimmification many fairy tales still have disturbing content. But as always, the chilling parts are always the parts children love to hear again and again...

  • Charles Perrault
    • Bluebeard: the girl discovering that Bluebeard killed all his previous partners and that their bodies are kept inside a room in his house!
    • Little Red Riding Hood: In Perrault's original tale the wolf eats the grandmother and the girl and the story simply ends there!! It wasn't until the Grimm version that the hunter and the rescue scenre were added to the plot! Still, being Swallowed Whole and being inside a living being is enough to make you cringe.
    • Hop O My Thumb: The scene where the man-eating giant wants to cut Hop-o'-My-Thumb and his seven brothers' necks and goes to their bed. Because of the darkness and Hop's clever plan to change their hats the giant accidentally slits his daughters' throats... while they are sleeping!!
      • Gustave Doré's illustration to this scene is equally terrifying.
  • The Brothers Grimm
    • Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs: The Queen asks the hunter to kill Snow White and bring her her heart.
    • Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids: the image of a Big Bad Wolf eating you is a scary thought to most children. In Little Red Riding Hood the wolf disguises himself as your grandmother and then eats you. In The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids the little goats are home alone when the wolf tricks them into believing he is their mother. Then they let him in and are eaten. The very thought of being gubbled up by a wolf but being alive in its stomach is chilling.
    • Cinderella, in which the evil step-sisters first cut off pieces of their feet to fit the golden slipper, and later had their eyes pecked out by birds who were avenging Cinderella.
    • Hansel and Gretel: A brother and sister are abandoned in the woods by their parents, in some accounts on behalf of the step mother. This is already disturbing in itself, because it was actually founded in actual historical events-the Great Famine of 1315-1317. Children were abandoned in the wilderness by their parents, and cannibalism is well-documented.
      • Hansel is then imprisoned by a witch in order to make him fat enough to eat. But Gretel pushes her inside the oven, where the witch is burned alive!!
        • There is a picture book of Hansel and Gretel with illustrations in what looked like Claymation images (possibly based on some TV special). That would've been creepy enough, but the crowning moment of chills was the ending scene that they added on to this version of the tale. After returning to their home, the kids hear an explosion in the woods. Then a cookie version of the witch lands in their front yard. As in, a giant cookie shaped like the witch. Really, really disturbing.
          • The illustrations may have come from this classic 1954 version of the story. You can see the "cookie witch" in this segment.
    • The second volume of Grimm's stories are even worse -- those are the "Morality Tales", wherein "bad children" face even more sadistic fates.
    • The tone and taste level of the whole genre is neatly summarised by the jingle that runs through The Juniper Tree, apparently just another adorable bedtime story making the rounds in 19th century Germany:

It was my mother who murdered me
It was my father who ate of me
It was my sister Marjorie
Who all my bones in pieces found
Them in her handkerchief she bound
And laid them under the juniper tree.

      • Said story has the Evil Stepmother kill the heroine's brother by chopping his head off with the lid of a heavy chest. She then arranges him as if sitting down with a handkerchief around his neck to hide the neck wound. The heroine comes by, asks him for a bite of the apple is holding, then slaps him when he doesn't respond and his head falls off. It's that kind of story.
    • There's a second half to Sleeping Beauty's story. Her mother-in-law is a cannibal who wants to eat Aurora's kids. She gives absurdly Frasier-like directions for how she wants them cooked. This was probably meant to be funny or satirical, but may have scared the pee out of some.
    • Rumpelstiltskin: When Rumpelstiltskin discovers that the queen knows his name he stamps his right foot into the floor. Then when trying to free himself he accidentally rips himself in two!!
    • The Story Of The Boy Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Is: Need to explain this one?
  • Hans Christian Andersen
    • "The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf", in which the cruel, vain protagonist becomes a statue in Hell, able to hear everything said about her on Earth, almost all of which is nasty until an angel begins to cry for her and sets her soul free.
    • The Little Match Girl: The poor girl freezes in the snow, lights her final match and then freezes to death.
    • The Little Mermaid: In contrast to the Disneyfication the Mermaid dies at the end of the story.