‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’
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Fairy tale movies for grown-ups

‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’
Fairy tales of far-away lands, conquering heroes and mythical beasts are often much darker than the animated, musical movie versions most of us remember from childhood. Hollywood has decided fairy tales will now join “old TV shows” and “comic books” as Hollywood’s go-to reservoir of material. But unlike the adaptations of yesteryear, the current and upcoming crop of fairy tale movies are mining those darker elements to make films that have a decidedly adult bent. Here’s a look at some grown-up fairy tales movies, past, present and future. (Paramount Pictures)
‘Little Otik’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Childless couple, a supernatural child

Why it’s not for kids: The title character is a tree root that comes to life for a childless couple who really, really want a baby. Though the story may not be familiar to American audiences, it’s based on a Czech fairy tale and is better known overseas. The film, by surrealist filmmaker and animator Jan Svankmajer, doesn’t shy away from the grimmer aspects of Little Otik’s life -- namely his insatiable appetite for things like ... cats ... and neighbors. This story is no Pinocchio. (Boris Baromykin / Zeitgeist Films)
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Wicked stepfather, lonely little girl

Why it’s not for kids: Writer-director Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale features creatures designed to give even adults nightmares. In fact, the Pale Man, with fingers in its palms and a taste for fairies and little children, is one of film’s most disturbing creations. And despite the fairy tale trappings, Del Toro’s film does not end with a “And they lived happily ever after.” (Picturehouse)
‘Beastly’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Beauty, beast, witch

Why it’s not for kids: This modern retelling of the classic story of a recovering egomaniac with a semi-permanent disfigurement and a ticking clock demanding he find someone to love him despite his looks is set in the epicenter of vanity: a high school. It even works in the rose symbolism that was so central to the earlier tales.

Is it scary? Not as much as other films on this list. But it certainly isn’t embracing any notions of dancing teapots or clocks that made small children like the famous Walt Disney version of this tale. (Takashi Seida / Associated Press)
‘The Brothers Grimm’
Familiar fairy tale characters: The real-life Jacob Grimm and his brother Wilhelm, as well as references to Snow White, Rapunzel and other characters they collected for their stories.

Why it’s not for kids: Director Terry Gilliam’s not-exactly-based-on-facts 2005 fantasy film places the famous siblings (Heath Ledger as Jacob, left, and Matt Damon as Willhelm) as con artists traveling through late 18th century, French-occupied Germany. They encounter a real-life fairy tale -- namely a witch who steals little girls and drains their blood as she tries to capture eternal youth. (Ralph Nelson / Dimension Films)
‘Freeway’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Little Red Riding Hood, big bad wolf, grandmother

Why it’s not for kids: On the surface, this lurid B movie involving gangs, serial killers and women in prison has very little to do with the Grimms’ fairy tales. But the main character is indeed on her way to grandmother’s house (or trailer) and runs afoul of the big bad wolf (in this case, it’s a serial killer named Bob Wolverton). Abuse, prostitution, murder and suicide may have been themes in the Grimms’ darker tales, but they’re not common in the modern-day adaptations -- especially ones aimed at little kids. This thriller could be said to be “loosely” based on Little Red Riding Hood. (Republic Pictures)
‘The Company of Wolves’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Red Riding Hood, grandmother, the hunter, lots and lots of wolves

Why it’s not for kids: There are many different fairy tales woven throughout director Neil Jordan‘s dream-like reworking of Red Riding Hood. But these fairy stories all have a feminist bent to them and they all feature a lot of wolves. A young girl may be the heroine of this horror-fantasy, but its dark themes and bloody visual effects mean the wee ones are better off hearing these stories instead of seeing them. (ITC)
‘Snow White: A Tale of Terror’
Familiar fairy tale characters: Snow White, evil queen, hunky woodsman, seven people of diminished stature

Why it’s not for kids: This dark re-imagining of the classic fairy tale, set during the Crusades and awash in crucifixions and cannibalism, emphasizes the spooky and the scary, including Sigourney Weaver‘s frightful makeup as the evil queen. The dwarfs have been replaced by seven roughnecks, but the basics of the story are the same. (Gramercy Pictures)
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