It seems every six months Hollywood cranks out another "gritty" fairy tale reboot. We've had Snow White, Hansel & Gretel, and even Little Red Riding Hood donning armor and picking up weapons in dark & violent modern "retellings" of classic fairy tales.
But as it turns out, the famous 19th century linguists The Brothers Grimm collected some pretty terrifyingly bleak "children's fairy tales" stories of their own. Do we really need to dream up another gritty Cinderella reboot or whatever when we've already got depressingly dark tales like these?
The Short Version: A princess decides she will only marry a man who agrees to be buried alive with her should she die before he does. Luckily, that's not a problem for the intrepid war-hero protagonist. And of course, she snuffs it immediately, and the new Prince is sealed in her tomb with her. But, in an amazingly lucky coincidence, some snakes show up with magic leaves that resurrect people from the dead, and everything is peachy for the newlyweds until the princess realizes she doesn't really love her husband/resurrector. She falls for a dashing sailor, and conspires with him to have her husband murdered and thrown in the ocean. But the Prince's faithful servant dives in after him, resurrects him with the magic leaves, they tell the King what happened, and the princess and her new hubby are murdered and thrown into the ocean.
THE MORAL: Be sure your pre-nup doesn't mention being buried alive with your spouse.
The Short Version:
Death throws down with a giant and gets his ass kicked. A young man helps Death up, and Death promises in return that, while he must eventually take the young man, he will give the man fair warning before he does. The young man becomes old, and one day death shows up, and is like, "Surprise, fucker!" The old man is mad because he didn't get any warning, but Death says, "Of course you did! You got old." And then the man dies.
THE MORAL: Death is kind of a dick.
The Short Version:
A young man travels across the ocean, gets beat up, finds a princess, marries her, becomes the king of Gold Mountain, gets ditched by the princess, finds a magic sword that will cut off everybody's head except for his own, and cuts off everybody's head except for his own. And lives happily ever after.
THE MORAL: When life gets you down, cut off everyone else's head.
A farmer slanders a king and steals a coat from a Jew, but he blames the Jew for everything and gets away with it.
THE MORAL: Germany was not a great place to be a Jew.
A mouse, a bird, and a sausage live happily together in the woods. Bird fetches wood from the forest, Mouse gets water from the well, and Sausage does all the cooking. That is, until all the other birds make fun of Bird for (presumably) being a wood-fetching bitch. Bird's feelings are hurt, and he demands that they switch up jobs. Sausage goes to fetch the wood, but gets eaten by a dog in the forest. Bird tries to fetch the water, but drowns in the well. And Mouse burns himself alive trying to cook.
THE MORAL: Germans have an unhealthy amount of respect for sausages.
A young boy isn't scared of anything, so he goes out on a quest to try to find something that scares him. On the way, he breaks a priest's leg, sets a bunch of corpses on fire, stays in a haunted castle on a bet, stabs a bunch of cats to death, goes bowling with human skulls, and beats an old man with an iron rod until he gives him all his treasure.
THE MORAL: Life is kinda awesome if you aren't scared of anything.
A couple of young boys see their father butchering a pig, and naturally, they think, "hey, we should do that" and the older boy cuts his brother's throat. Naturally, Mom is kinda pissed about this, and stabs the surviving son in the heart. And then remembers she left the baby in the tub, it drowns, and she hangs herself out of grief. Then, Dad comes home from work to find his entire family dead, and dies of grief. The end.
THE MORAL: I guess... don't murder your family members? Ah, what the fuck, Brothers Grimm?