Everybody knows that Hollywood has gone fairy-tale crazy. There are dueling Snow White movies and competing Beauty and the Beast shows, plus a ton of others. But eventually, they're going to run out of Disney-approved fairytales, and they're going to have to dig into... the weird stuff. You know, the ones where young girls get their hands chopped off and tons of cute animals kill each other. And we can't wait.
We've assembled a list of 10 totally batshit insane fairytales that we'd love to see Hollywood tackle.
Top image: Kate Eagle Art
1. The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage (Brothers Grimm)
This is the one we thought of immediately — the quintessentially weird and disturbing Grimm Brothers story. Basically, there's a mouse and a bird living with a sausage, and they're all happy together, because they've mastered division of labor. Every day, the bird flies into the forest to fetch firewood, while the mouse carries water, makes the fire and sets the table. Meanwhile, the sausage "cooks" dinner by slithering around in the pan to get the vegetables and stuff all salty and greasy.
But one day, the bird decides he's been doing too much work and it's time for a change — so the sausage has to go fetch firewood while the mouse tries to roll around in the pot to get everything tasty and greasy. It all goes horribly wrong, because a dog seizes the sausage and accuses her (the sausage) of having forged documents. What kind of documents does a sausage carry, and why would they be forged? We never find out. Meanwhile, the mouse rolling around in a frying pan works about as well as you'd think. And the bird winds up catching the house on fire, and drowning when he tries to get water. (The whole thing is illustrated here.)
How to make it more movie friendly: Reinvent it as a love triangle, in which the sausage and the bird both try to prove their love for the mouse, who wallows around in some hot vegetables. Mia Wasikowska plays the mouse.
2. Hans My Hedgehog (Brothers Grimm)
A woman gives birth to a human/hedgehog hybrid, who plays the bagpipes and rides around on a chicken. After Hans rescues a king who's lost in the woods, the king promises him the first thing he sees when they return to his kingdom as thanks (which turns out to be his daughter), but cons him out of their deal by taking advantage of his illiteracy. Hans later manages to rescue a second king, who makes the exact same deal.
When Hans returns to claim the first king's daughter, she refuses him — so he strips her naked and stabs her repeatedly with his quills, Ted Bundy-style. He then marries the second king's daughter and sheds
his hedgehog skin, transforming into a handsome man.
How to make it more movie friendly: Turn it into a zany romantic comedy about a were-hedgehog who shoots out quills when he gets too excited. Teresa Palmer is the only girl who can handle his spiny spikiness. Image via Fairy Tale Channel
3. The Juniper Tree (Brothers Grimm)
A widower remarries, but the new wife hates the son he had with his first wife, and wants their daughter to be the sole heir. One day, she offers the boy an apple from inside a chest. And when he reaches in, she
slams the lid, chopping off his head. To hide her crime, she reattaches the head with a scarf. (You have to love the Rube Goldberg approach to crime in these stories.) Eventually, though, the woman's daughter accidentally knocks the boy's head off and believes she's killed him herself. Not to worry, though — the woman and her daughter cut the boy up and put him in the stew, so his dad eats him. But the boy is reincarnated as a bird, who drops a giant stone on his stepmom, killing her and turning him back into a boy.
How to make it more movie friendly: Kristen Stewart is in love with her step-brother, and spends several scenes monologuing to him about her feelings, without noticing that his head is only attached by a scarf. When she knocks his head off, cue a montage of her taking his head on a long mopey motorcycle ride. Image by Natalia Pierandrei/Etsy
4. Penta of the Chopped-off Hands (Italian)
A widowed king falls in love with his own sister. To try and get out of this wedding, though, the sister chops off her own hands. Like you do. This pisses off her brother the king, so he has her locked in a chest and tossed in the sea. Penta gets rescued by a fisherman, but his jealous wife makes him throw her back.
Eventually, a different king saves Penta, and they marry and have a baby. But the child is born while the king is away, and Penta's letter to her husband is intercepted by the fisherman's wife. who then changes it to read that Penta gave birth to a puppy. The king decides this must be God's will, and he's okay with it. But the evil woman writes to the king's council telling them to burn Penta and the baby alive. The king discovers the fisherman's wife's treachery, and has her burned instead.
How to make it more movie friendly: Focus on the second king, who thinks that it's probably okay that his handless wife gave birth to a puppy. Maybe he's a werewolf, and is secretly glad to have a canine offspring? Or maybe he's just one of those easy-going dudes who supports whatever. Logan Lerman could play the second king. Image by Liza Corbett, via Fairy Tale Mood
5. The Girl Without Hands (Brothers Grimm)
A poor miller makes a deal with the Devil: the miller will get massive amounts of wealth in exchange for whatever's standing behind his mill, which the miller believes to be an old apple tree. He goes home to find that the Devil actually meant his daughter, who was out sweeping behind the mill at the time.
Three years later, the Devil returns for the girl, but she cleans herself with water and is too pure for him to touch. The father keeps her away from water so she can't clean herself, but she cries so much that her hands are clean from her tears. This keeps the devil away once more, so the Devil orders her father to cut her hands off, so he can take her. The miller complies — but the girl cries onto her stumps so much, they're still too clean for the Devil. Finally, the Devil lets her go.
The girl wanders off, so that her family doesn't have to take care of her, and happens upon a castle. The king sees her eating fruit in his garden with an angel, and decides to marry her. He even has silver hands made to replace the flesh ones she is missing. While he is away in battle, his new wife has a child. The Devil intercepts letters between the King and his mother, making the king think his new baby is a changeling. The Devil also sends letters to the King's mother, ordering her to kill the Queen and the baby. Rather than kill them, the mother sends them away, and they live in a house in the woods for seven years. God has seen how pious the woman has been, and causes her hands to grow back. Eventually, the King returns from the battlefield and tracks down his wife and son.
How to make it more movie friendly: Here's another crazy hand-amputation romance — but this one is made for Tim Burton. Johnny Depp could play the King. Image by Y Incision/Deviant Art
6. The Dead Mother (Russian Fairy Tale)
Basically a touching romantic zombie story. A mother dies in childbirth, and her husband despairs over how to take care of the baby. So he hires an old lady to take care of it. During the day, the baby won't eat and cries constantly, but at night, it sleeps peacefully. Every night, the family hears someone open the door to the baby's room.
Determined to find out who's suckling the baby, they decide one night to shine a light on the mysterious intruder, who's coming to visit the baby after dark. It turns out that the dead mother has been the one caring for the child. She's even still wearing the clothes she was buried in. Once she's discovered, the dead woman leaves the room without a word, and when everyone went to check on the baby, it's dead, too.
How to make it more movie friendly: Turn it into a "found footage" movie in which zombies are running a day care center. At night. For some reason. It'll be awesome. Image by A. Alexeieff, via 50 Watts
7. The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean (Brothers Grimm)
A poor old woman is cooking beans for dinner, when one bean falls to the ground. A piece of straw is laying on the ground as well, having fallen out of the woman's hands when she used a handful of straw to light her cooking fire. A burning coal leaps down from the fire, and the three decide they should be companions, since they've all had just escaped certain death. They decide to leave the house.
On their journeys to new and exciting lands, they come to a brook. The straw lays itself across the banks of the brook, so the other two can walk across. The burning coal goes first, but she catches the piece of straw on fire, and they both tumble to their deaths in the stream. The bean laughs and laughs, until she splits in half. Luckily, a tailor finds the bean and sews her back together. The bean is fine.
How to make it more movie friendly: Crazy road-trip movie. Emma Stone is a burning coal, full of scorching irony and smouldering glances. That guy from the Footloose remake is the straw who secretly has a thing for her. McLovin can be the bean.
8. The Three Army Surgeons (Brothers Grimm)
Three traveling surgeons try to impress an innkeeper by performing surgery on themselves. Like you do. One chops off his hand, one removes his eyes and one cuts out his heart and they store the body parts in a cupboard to put back in the morning. During the night, a girl working at the inn opens the cupboard to get dinner for her boyfriend — and a cat sneaks in and eats the surgeons' spare parts.
When the girl realizes what's happened, she and her boyfriend replace the missing parts with the eyes of the cat, the heart of a pig and the hand of a thief who's hanging from the gallows. When the surgeons reattach their organs in the morning, they realize they've been tricked as one cannot see, one wants to roll in the mud, and the last cannot keep from stealing. They threaten to burn down the inn if their proper parts are not returned, but the innkeeper can only give them money so they can retire from surgeoning.
How to make it more movie friendly: Give it to David Cronenberg, basically. It's like Hands of Orlac and Splice and a bunch of other things rolled into one crazy disturbing package. The innkeeper's boyfriend discovers that he can only get sexually aroused by rolling around in a tub full of eels.
Short version: a demon pays a guy not to bathe for seven years. Oh, and he also can't cut his fingernails or hair, and he has to wear a crazy cloak and green coat, and sleep in a bearskin. But he gets unlimited money, and at the end of the seven years, he'll be rich. But if he accidentally bathes, the Devil gets his soul. Now known as Bearskin, the guy helps out a man who can't afford to pay his hotel bill, and the man offers Bearskin one of his daughters. The two older daughters refuse, but the youngest accepts, and gets half a ring in return.
Bearskin says he'll return in three years. When he does return, he's handsome and all cleaned up, because his seven years of fugliness are over. The two older daughters both want to marry him, but he reveals that he's already promised to the younger daughter. The two older daughters wind up hanging and drowning themselves, and the Devil tells Bearskin that he's gotten two souls, instead of just Bearskin's one.
How to make it more movie friendly: This is the Alex Pettyfer comeback vehicle waiting to happen. Most of the action takes place in a Brooklyn bicycle store, where the three sisters hang out and eat locally sourced alfalfa sprouts.
10. The Death of the Little Red Hen
And finally, one of those stories where there's just endless death and mayhem, and none of it really makes much sense. There's a hen and a rooster, traveling around together, and they agree to share whatever they find. But the hen finds a totally awesome nut, and decides to keep it for herself — but she chokes on it. The rooster frantically runs to get water for her, so she can avoid choking to death. The rooster runs to the well to get water, but the well demands that he go and find a bride, and get some red silk from her. (Why does the well want red silk? Um... reasons.)
But the bride won't give the rooster any red silk until he helps her find her veil. By the time the rooster finds the bride's veil and then gets the red silk to the well, the hen has already choked to death. The rooster is so upset at the hen's death, his crying brings a bunch of other animals. Six mice build a funeral carriage for the hen. Other animals, including a fox, a bear, an elk and a lion, all join the funeral procession.
Until they come to — wait for it — a brook. Once again, there's a helpful piece of straw, that offers to serve as a bridge across the stream. This goes about as well as that sort of thing ever does — the mice fall in the brook and drown. Then a burning coal comes and offers to lay in the stream to serve as a kind of bridge — but the coal goes out and also dies. Finally, a stone comes and offers to be a bridge — this works out better, but the rooster can't pull the carriage, which is full of all the other animals. The carriage falls back into the water, and all the other animals drown and die. Eventually, the rooster dies of grief. Everybody is dead. The End.
How to make it more movie friendly: George Clooney is the rooster, in one of those "only Clooney could make it work" roles where he's just a crazy-ass mother who keeps on trying to do what he thinks is right, even as he gets more and more grief piled on him. Image via Fairy Tale Bedtime
Additional reporting by Gordon M. Jackson and Jennifer Griffith.