The Dark World of Disney: Scary Stories Behind the Classics

If you’re like me, you love Disney movies but noticed the difference between the “creepier” ones, the ones that give you all the feels. Like, in my opinion, Cinderella and Little Mermaid were some of the more nostalgic, fun Disney classics. But then there was Snow White, Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty, which were a little more on the creepy side.

The Disney Shop In Regent Street London.
The Disney Shop In Regent Street London. Photo By Associated Newspapers /Shutterstock

The origins behind these dark Disney movies are more shocking and way more violent than you could imagine. Disney was built on magic and “happily ever after,” but some of these classics are nowhere near what dreams are made of. That is unless we’re talking about nightmares.

Let’s start with Pinocchio…

The Scary Story of Pinocchio

When people think of Pinocchio, they see a sweet young puppet who just wants to be a real boy. The Disney film tells the tale of his adventures with Jiminy Cricket, and how he gets to fulfill his dream of becoming a human. But the creator of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, was aiming for a different image.

Film Stills of 'Pinocchio' 1940
Film Stills of ‘Pinocchio’ 1940, Photo By Snap/Shutterstock

Collodi created the character for a series of stories in Italian newspapers. His aim was to show kids the consequences of being “bad.” Collodi’s original Pinocchio was a cruel and mischievous toy. His Jiminy Cricket character was originally referred to as “Talking Cricket,” and when he tried to give Pinocchio good advice, the puppet-boy killed him… with a mallet.

Sleeping Beauty’s Original Horror Story

The classic tale of a princess in distress and her prince who gallantly rescues her has a dark backstory. The original 17th-century Italian fable has similar beginnings, where the princess, Talia, pricked her finger on a spindle and went into a deep sleep. But the rest of her story is too gruesome for kids to hear. The man who came to her “rescue” is a king, not a prince.

Cover for children's book, The Sleeping Beauty.
Cover for children’s book, The Sleeping Beauty. Source: Shutterstock

The king’s kiss didn’t wake her up. Instead, he “gathers the fruits of her love,” which is a nicer way of saying he took advantage of her while she slept. Yeah… exactly. Nine months later, Talia gave birth to twins. Talia and the king fell in love, but the king was still married. So his queen ordered the twins to be kidnapped, COOKED, and fed to the king. But, luckily, she fails. The moral of the story: “Lucky people, so ’tis said, Are blessed by Fortune whilst in bed.”

A Cinderella Story

When Disney’s Cinderella II was released in 2002, Cinderella’s evil stepsisters weren’t as evil as they were in the first classic version. One of the sisters, Anastasia, was had her own love interest with a baker, encouraged by Cinderella herself. But the original Brothers Grimm tale wasn’t so nice. The fate given to the stepsisters wasn’t so forgiving.

Cinderella. Photo By Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

In the original fairytale, the two girls cut off parts of their feet to try and fit into Cinderella’s slipper. Then doves swooped in to show Prince Charming the blood on the shoe, showing him that he shouldn’t be fooled. At the end of the “fairytale,” the stepsisters went to Cinderella’s wedding, where their eyes were pecked out by the doves who betrayed them earlier. Ouch.