Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

March 1, 2013

Once upon a time, at the movies ...

By Rebecca Todd
CNHI

— Lately I've noticed a disturbing trend in major motion pictures. No, I don't mean the extreme violence that is no doubt destroying the cerebral cortex of all who view them, making them do strange and disturbing things. No, I am not referring to the super hero movies that are no doubt destroying their Amygdala making viewers do strange and disturbing things. No, I don't mean found footage movies that are no doubt destroying viewer's hippocampus.

I don't know what a hippocampus is. It sounds like a college for large animals, but I am assured by many medical specialists that it is an integral part of the brain, and these movies are turning it to into apricot jelly.

And I don't mean "Twilight" knock-offs, although Lord knows the originals were bad enough to make all the vital organs in the body just want to simultaneously shut down.

I'm talking about the knock-down, drag-out, shoot 'em up, yippie-ki-yay revamping of children's fairy tales.

Take for example, "Hansel and Gretel-Witch Hunters." We all know the story of "Hansel & Gretel." Understandably, the pair is a little off-kilter after their harrowing experience. But in this version of the story, they grow up with a hunger for vengeance and become witch bounty hunters, blowing away witches and kicking evil butt. Yippie-ki-yay.

Next up: "Jack the Giant Slayer," the retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk." I never liked the original story. Even as a kid, Jack kind of seemed like an idiot to me. But in this version, Jack doesn't just pick up a couple of trinkets on his journey; he resurrects an ancient war between humans and giants. Time to kick some evil giant butt; yippie-ki-yay.

Finally, we have "Snow White and the Huntsman." In this delightful tale, when he comes to kill her, Snow aligns herself with the huntsman and then they head out to kick some ... well, I think you get the general idea by now.

I have to tell you, the original versions of these fairy tales are disturbing enough for a small child. The witch fattens up the kids so she can eat them? The wicked queen wants the huntsman to bring back Snow White's heart? Jack is an idiot? It's a little much for a kid to take on.

Sometimes I think we expect our little ones to take on too much. Just because it's written in a book and labeled as a children's story, doesn't mean we should tell our kids the story. Madonna wrote a children's book, for crying out loud, so pretty much anything goes in that industry. Not all stories are for kids.

Here's a fine example. Once when my mother was away, Dad took on the chore of bed time stories. Instead of our usual "The Three Bears," Dad proceeded to tell a story about three kids whose mother died. I don't remember the entire gist of the story, but I remember the ending had something to do with the dead mother jumping up and screaming, "Yes!" which made Dad howl with laughter when we jumped and screamed, but traumatized me until I ended up writing weird commentary articles in the local paper. I think Dad must have been told some twisted fairy tales when he was a kid.

The point is that fairy tales are bad enough as they are. In fact, if you do a little research on the origins of these stories, they started out much worse. They weren't even written for children, but instead, began as wicked stories written in the dark ages and were far darker than the versions we now know. So if movie studios want to make a new, kick-butt version of the tales, they might want to check out the originals. They make the new versions look like ... well, fairy tales.

I would elaborate, but I saw the several found footage movies, so my brain now resembles apricot jelly.

Yippie-ki-yay.

- Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and author of the book "What's the Point," available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.