I was never much of a fairy tale kind of kid, but Snow White is a story that I hold very dear to my heart. It’s dark, gritty, and relatable to me in such a way because I really had an Evil Queen as a mother. Sometimes step-parents can be a Godsend, while our real birth-givers are toxic entities in our lives, and it’s even worse when you’re a child if not traumatic altogether. My real mother is a narcissistic bipolar who was jealous of her own daughter growing up (why? I’ll never get that), which made my life growing up with her until she split pretty much a living hell. Without going into too much detail, I was treated rather poorly and my way of coping was escapism through a lot of horror films. And then there was this movie I ended up watching over a hundred times in my youth because it was not only, what I thought, was the best version of the gothic fairy tale, but it had elements of horror sprinkled in there that were done rather well. Before Snow White: A Tale Of Terror came around anyway exactly 10 years after the fact.
Dating all the way back to 1916, The Brothers’ Grimm tale of envy and horror has been adapted cinematically over and over again in the past 100 years of film. It may be one of the most tried and true stories to be reinvented every few years or so for audiences, via animation or live-action. While some details differ from each revamping of the 1812 German fairy tale, the major plot remains the same not giving too much room for suspense. However, in the 80s’, Cannon Movie Tales’ version of the fair maiden and her seven little friends came in swinging as the most faithful adaptation of the original story to date; and definitely lives up to the gothic nature that really is The Brothers’ Grimm as some of it is goddamn visually terrifying.
I mean, the magic mirror is straight-up made of nightmares, y’all.
Albeit the Evil Queen’s fate in the original story, Cannon’s Snow White gets most of the gritty details from the original right, even down to the apple core dislodging from her throat in transport. The movie stars Nicola Stapleton/Sarah Peterson as Snow White, Billy Barty from Willow and Legend fame, and Diana Rigg as the evil Queen who stole the whole show, and also induced a ton of nightmares as she did her job rather well. The rage and tone that comes off from this woman in the film is one for the books and to this day, unmatched by any Evil Queen’s performance in the myriad of actresses that have donned the wicked crown.
In total, the Queen attempted murder on SW four times. Once as a child in the woods with the huntsman, where she is offered mercy by the hunter and flees off into the forest, coming upon the dwarves’ cottage. Years later when the Queen finds out Snow is still alive, she then uses her master of disguise tactics to cosplay not once, but 3 different times as a Gyspy woman, a Geisha, and finally an old woman to fool the princess by offering her poison combs, too-tight lace, and a delightful deadly apple- which obviously is one that finally did her in. I have to say however, it’s such an insult to women everywhere that any woman would be that stupid to fall for these tricks multiple times, but then again, we would have a bit of a boring story had she used her noodle a bit.
Anyways, once the traveling Prince happens upon Snow just hanging out dead in the woods, he whisks her away to a castle in the middle of a blistering snowstorm. The entourage carrying her has a bit of an accident, causing SW to spill out of the carriage in her glass coffin, and the force of the fall urges her to cough up the poisoned bit of the apple, awakening her and allowing the pair to live happily ever after.
Well, almost. Just like in the book, the Evil Queen finds out about this wedding and freaks out when her trusty mirror tells her that the Prince’s bride-to-be, is way more beautiful than she. She throws a temper tantrum, breaking the mirror which turns out to be the true source of her magic, beauty, and youth. She quickly begins to tatter and age but not before she can make it to this castle to look upon this fair maiden before she dies. Low, and behold, it’s of course, Snow White. She turns from the alter to walk away but her face shatters into a million pieces before she can make it out of the vicinity.
As a kid, this was absolutely terrifying. As an adult, that’s karma bitch.
Cannon’s Snow White is not easy to come by these days but Amazon does have the DVD for sale at a decent price. If anything, skip the few cheesy musical numbers that made their way into this movie, but watch it for Diana Rigg and her downright crazy-good performance along with some visually terrifying imagery that you won’t soon forget.