Most Disney stories have wonderful happily ever after endings which is all well and good, but the tales are far from the truth. Tales like Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty and even Snow White have origins that were far more sinister and dark and intended to be read by adults. Here at Staying Scared, where loitering in the shadows listening to the clock toll midnight is the norm, the disturbing and ominous side is much more appealing and thus, the horrific truth of these tales, while unsettling, are far more attractive.
And so fellow ghouls, let’s take a look at the truth, explore the honest origins that were usually filled with debauchery and depravity. But, take heed fiends and consider this your only warning, if your perception of these characters are innocent and delightful and you want to sustain that insight, stop right here, for to continue will surely shatter this.
The tale, which most folks are aware, surrounds a happy go lucky boy child made of wood whose nose grows when he lies and his sidekick is a cricket with a beautiful singing voice. Well, truth be told, derived from an 1881 & 82 newspaper serial written by Carlo Collodi, the only similarity is that the boy was named Pinocchio. Entitled The Adventures of Pinocchio, the boy was, for a lack of a better word, simply an a-hole and that cricket was not named Jiminy. Lacking compassion, at least until the very end, he was a child who frowned upon being corrected and after the cricket offered advice he didn’t didn’t agree with, Pinocchio threw a hammer hitting the cricket in the head, killing him. Although somewhat regretful, he still blamed the cricket for its own demise, telling Gepetto, his father, “it was his own fault, for I didn’t want to kill him.”
Not only did he appear uncompassionate, but he seemed rather stupid too.
While sitting on a stool, wooden legs placed up on a stove to dry, he napped, completely unaware that his legs were slowly blackening and eventually became ashes. Nonetheless, like any loving father would probably do, he whittled new ones. One would think that the boy would be grateful, but he wasn’t and continued on with wicked ways. You see, prior to all this, after Gepetto brought the boy to life, understandably, it took a bit for him to learn to walk. But, becoming confident in ability, Pinocchio proceeded to run off and a distraught Gepetto searched only to find that the boy lied, giving the townsfolk the impression that his father had been abusing him. This landed Gepetto in jail. Now this alone, and for good reason, might just turn a father away. But, on the contrary, Gepetto's love prevailed and he sacrificed, giving up his only coat to buy a book so the boy could attend school. Pinocchio sold the book for theater tickets.
The dead cricket returns as a ghost, again with noble advice, this time recommending that Pinocchio avoid the unsavory who claim planting gold coins will in fact grow a tree of gold. Again Pinocchio fails to listen, finding those same insalubrious ones hanging him by the neck in a tree.
Originally, with Pinocchio dead, Collodi intended to finish the tale there. However, he didn’t and wrote on, which brings the blue fairy that saved the boy’s life into the tale.
Eventually maturing, the boy settled and began taking care of his elderly father, but not before the cricket appears again, reminding Pinocchio of the hammer. Under the impression the cricket was taking the opportunity to exact revenge, the boy pleaded to throw the hammer at him instead and to not harm his father. Well, the cricket didn’t throw a hammer at all, instead reiterating that folks need to be nice, courteous and kind to one another, and Pinocchio never forget.
This tale has different versions and it is the more gruesome Giambattista Basile adaptation we’ll concentrate on.
Named Talia, it is the kingdom astrologers that predict she will be stricken by a splinter of flax and when this occurs, she is abandoned on a velvet throne by her father in a sealed house.
One day a king happens by and after getting no answer to his knocking, climbs up and through a window to find her, still unconscious. He tries to wake her to no avail and carries her to the bed, where he proceeds to rape her, eventually leaving her lie and taking leave.
Still unconscious (and don’t ask me how) Talia gives birth to twins named Sun and Moon. One of the twins suckled Talia’s finger, essentially removing the dreaded flax, which allows Talia to awaken. Of course, she has no idea what had occurred, but takes to motherhood.
The king, wanting to visit Talia again, finds both her and his children alive and well, and explains what had happened. One would think that she would be disgusted, but she wasn’t and in fact, they bond and he promises to come back for her.
Overhearing him speaking of Talia, Sun and Moon in his sleep, the king’s wife, the queen, becomes furious and threatens the royal secretary until the truth is disclosed. Implying she is the king, she sends word to Talia indicating that the children would like to be seen and Talia sends them off. But, the queen has a more gruesome plan and intends to feed them to her king. The cook is ordered to serve them, but hides them and serves two lambs instead, which the unknowing queen accepts. Afterward, Talia is summoned, the queen intent on burning her alive, but the king finds out and burns the queen instead and they lived happily ever after.
Originally titled Sneewittdhen, it was The Brothers Grimm tale number 53 and was completed in 1854.
After pricking her finger and seeing the three blood droplets on the snow covering a windowsill, the Good Queen wishes for a daughter who has skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair ebony black. Well, her wish comes true, but the queen dies during childbirth.
The king, Snow White’s father, eventually takes another wife. However, this wife is wicked to the core, always consulting a magic mirror with “who is the fairest of them all.” The mirror, who never lies, always tells the wicked queen that she is…until Snow White grows into a far more beautiful maiden. It is then that the mirror turns and begins stating That Snow White holds the honor.
Of course, the queen despises this and orders a huntsman to kill Snow White, demanding he return with her liver and lungs as proof the deed is accomplished. Under raised blade, Snow White pleads for her life, promising that if he spares her, the kingdom will never see her again. He indeed pardons her, returning with the innards of a boar instead, which the queen delightfully has for dinner.
Snow White wanders for days and eventually stumbles on a small house with no one home. After taking liberty to food and drink, she falls asleep in one of the seven beds and is eventually awakened by the seven dwarfs who noticed things out of order. Well, after negotiations, in which she will be basically a homemaker for them, she is allowed to stay, but is warned to let no one in while they are away.
Again at the mirror the queen asks who is fairest and the mirror replies that Snow White, beyond the mountains at the home of the seven dwarfs is. Under disguise, the queen travels to the cottage and offers Snow White the most beautiful of the laced bodices she is peddling. Snow White accepts and allows the cloaked queen to tie the laces, which she does so tight that Snow White collapses. Thinking her dead, the queen takes leave, but the seven men come home to find Snow White in the nick of time.
The following morning at the mirror, nothing has changed and the queen is enraged and this is where the apple comes into play. After consulting kingdom magicians, she poisons an apple and disguises herself as a simply farmer’s wife. Hesitant at first, only after the queen cuts the apple in half and takes a bite of the good side does Snow White follow suite and becomes stricken. Unable to help this time, the dwarfs put Snow White in a glass coffin.
A prince finds her and wants to take her away. Of course the dwarfs are doubtful, but agree and while the prince’s servants are carrying the coffin away, they trip on some roots which dislodges the poisoned apple from her throat and Snow White awakens.
A wedding day is set and the queen, yet again after consulting the mirror, finds Snow White is fairer. Although angry, she accepts their invitation, only to find that for retribution for attempting to take Snow White’s life, she will be forced to wear red hot glowing iron shoes and dance to her death.
And so fellow ghoulish ones, you see, wracked with murder, cannibalism and ill intent, not all is pristine in never never land and these tales are more closely suited to Tales From the Crypt rather than Disney. Maybe next time we’ll discuss a few more, for there are plenty to choose from.