Today we are used to every fairy tale ending with, “and they all lived happily ever after.” But that’s not how the original stories usually ended. Many of the old school, pre-Disneyfied fairy tales took a much darker turn. And that’s mostly due to how creepy and terrifying the villains were. Old hags, evil queens, malevolent sorceresses are all much more terrifying in the classic tales than their modern Disney cousins.
How petty do you have to be to curse an innocent baby just because the royal family forgot to send you a dinner invitation? The recent Disney movies have tried to make Maleficent more sympathetic by adding extra twists to her character, but that very first witch from the book will always remain the petty old hag.
2. Cinderella’s Stepmother
We all know the story about the crystal shoe, the pumpkin, and the loving family who’s always there to support Cinderella. Hah, as if! The stepmom was a real B and only cared about her own daughters, so when in the classic version of the story, the Prince was riding around trying to find the shoe’s rightful owner, mommy dearest chopped off her daughters’ heels and toes to make the slipper fit. That’s when the wild pigeons appeared and plucked out their eyes. Gotta love the gory ending!
3. Little Red Riding Hood
The story of a girl and a hungry wolf has been circulating in Europe since the 14th century. The contents of the basket changed depending on the area, but the story itself is much crueler. Having killed the grandmother, the wolf not only eats her but cooks her meat and blood to treat Little Red. Hiding under the blanket, he watches as the little girl devours her own grandmother, and after she can’t eat anymore, she obediently hops on the bed, where the ever-hungry maw is waiting for her tender meat. In most versions, this is where the story ends, and that’s probably for the better.
4. The Sea Witch
The original Little Mermaid is really messed up. If you think the Disney version of the whole “Ursula casting a spell while singing” looked visually unnerving and even a bit creepy, just wait till you find out what happened in the classic tale. The Sea Witch not only stole Ariel’s voice in return for the ability to walk on land, but she also made it so that every tiny step felt like she was stepping on razor-sharp blades. On top of that, Ursula added a few extra conditions to make sure the little mermaid would suffer as much as possible.
5. The Queen from Snow White
We don’t need to ask the Mirror who’s the most jealous of them all because it’s obviously the evil Queen. She just can’t stand that Snow White is becoming “the fairest one of all,” so naturally, the Queen plots to kill her. After the Huntsman failed, the old crone turns herself into an actual old hag and tries to murder the poor lass, getting denied by the dwarves time and time again until Snow White bites a cursed apple and takes a long nap. If Disney’s idea of a karmic punishment was throwing the witch off a cliff, the classic tale had a much more cathartic ending. The Queen is invited to the wedding and then is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she drops dead.
6. Witch from Hansel And Gretel
The story about two kids getting lost in the forest and finding a hut made of sweets is an excellent cautionary tale about gluttony. Especially when you add the fact that the gingerbread house was put there by an evil witch who loves giving away candies, milk, honey, apple pies, and other amazing treats to children. Of course, there’s a small catch – the witch only does this to plump up the poor unsuspecting kids before she bakes them in a giant oven. If that’s not messed up, I don’t know what is.