on February 18, 2005
I wasn't "terrified" by this movie, but I do love it for what it is. The setting and costumes are charming and artistic, the casting very appropriate. The dark tone to the film is somewhat haunting, and yet at the same time there is an enchanting elegance to it. The native forest scenery is particularly breathtaking, and the castle presents itself as both lovely and ghastly.
The movie is altogether a welcome change from cloying animated fairy tales. I'm proud of this movie for going in the Grimm brothers direction, and asserting that a story like "Snow White" is not necessarily meant exclusively for children, if at all.
Some may think Sigourney Weaver as the stepmother was over the top, or rather that the character was written to be too over the top. However, the viewer must remember that this is a fairy tale--it's meant to be over the top (particularly when madness is involved!). Fairy tales are defined by their use of magical elements in telling a story. This telling of the story manages to employ especially the use of the supernatural as a means of illustrating, with horrific hyperbole, the dangers of obsessive vanity and jealousy, emphasizing the versatility of fairy tale motifs.
I highly recommend this film for lovers of authentic fairy tales. Don't watch it expecting to be scared, but rather creeped out in a Grimm brothers sort of way. Also, don't expect to be awfully surprised--there are plenty of plot twists in this movie that some find surprising, and others find contrived. However, in the end, you don't need to be surprised when you're watching a fairy tale, for these are stories nearly as old as time. A fairy tale newly told is more an experience of one person's artistic interpretation than a new story, and this movie is an admirable example of such.
on July 6, 2004
You know the story...or do you? This take on the classic tale is dark and gothic. They don't make films like these anymore. Today, over-the-top gore is the thing.This is scary in a different way.It is disturbing and eerie(SPOILER: Especially the concept of the Queen with her stillborn son).
Sigourney Weaver gives her best performance since ALIEN.She takes on a role of madness and edge of your seat insanity. The way she talks into her mirror is so dramatic and expressive.The beautifully designed mirror's expression is evermore the same.
The girl who plays Lillian,a.k.a. Snow White, is wonderful. How many girls her age can show fear through her eyes.She shows her best in the ending scene.
This is an excellent achievement in horror. It is beautifully filmed and professionally directed. The music makes each scene unique and suspenceful(excluding the parts with the seven miners(a.k.a. dwarves)A must see.
on April 8, 2004
The Grimm fairy tales were written to teach children and adults lessons. They were created not to have happy endings, but teach a lesson on life. If we were to go back to the days we would see all our beloved Disney fairytales with gruesome endings.
This movie puts the Grimm tale into a realistic view of the story. It's completed without the chintzy blood and guts of horror/slasher films, but with the subtle and dark gothic images from the scenes in the forest to those heightened events in the castle.
Sigourney Weaver was excellent in this film because her portrayal of the evil Queen made you hate her and feel for her at the same time. It's almost as if the circumstances are what made her act the way she did. It's not your children's fairy tale. It is a dark movie told the way it was told when it was originally written.
I really enjoy films that make you think and draw you in. This film was excellent. However, if you are looking for a horror film with lots of blood, guts, gore and fighting typical of a slasher/horror film - this is not the movie for you. If you like a good storytelling with a few twists in magic and character, you will love this movie.
on May 28, 2004
This version of the classic story stars Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill and is far from the cheery animated version you may be familiar with..
Sam Neill plays Lillian's father. After the death of his wife he marries Sigourney Weaver. Things are fine at first but the aging Weaver begins to feel jealousy towards her step-daughter. She feels she is in competition for her husband's affections. With the help of her mysterious magic mirror (a frightening piece of furniture if I ever saw one) she begins making plans to be number one.
But as Weaver makes her plans she also begins to sink into deeper and deeper madness as she eliminates the servants, her step-daughter and even her brother. But Lillian manages to survive and meets a band of outlaw miner's hoping to find a rich strike. She manages to win their hearts in time and eventually returns to challenge her step-mother.
This is a very dark telling of the Snow White story. It is more tragic than many tellings in that the step-mother is mad and not evil. The girl who plays Lillian is excellent. Her ability to show powerful emotion with a single look really adds to the atmosphere of this dark film.
If you are interested in seeing a good dark tale then Snow White could be just what you are looking for.
on March 9, 2004
Either I just don't get it, or my spookiness threshold is too demanding :-)
Sigourney in a warped and twisted rendition of the classic fairy tale - sounded like just what my therapist ordered me to watch on a rainy night. So having waited until the mood was right and darkness had fallen all around, and combed down the hairs on the back of my neck in anticipation, I plugged in the disk and sat back, ready for the goosebumps.
It couldn't have started out better, with dark woods and snarling wolves and terrified horses and carriages and miscarriages and Poe-sque manors.. I settled deeper into the couch and pushed my popcorn a notch away to make sure I wouldn't knock it over if I got too startled.
And then the movie was over. Perhaps Siggy was called over to focus on Alien Resurrection, and stop wasting her time on fairy tales. The rest of the movie seemed like a waste of time and celluloid. I couldn't blame them for trying, but it never got more than a lifted eyebrow from me. Too formulated, too sterotypical gothic, too predictable, too well defined, too belabored. There were tons of opportunities to make your skin crawl - the witch makeover, the mutely sinister Gustaf, the creaky mirror cabinet, getting lost in an eerie forest, medeival castles and dungeons. But the director only succeeded in making it all too iconic, too futile, too contrived. In the end, there is nothing very remarkable when you tout a different 'spin' of a well-told tale, but good being good and bad being bad and the former triumphing over the latter in just precisely the way you would expect.
I see all the other glowing reviews of this movie, and wonder if there is something I missed. Perhaps. But a good movie shouldn't let you miss anything. It should hold you with a glittering eye. As did Alien. 1, 2, and Resurrection (well, almost). Even when I watch them today for the nth time. To be brutal - I think Sigourney was wasted. Perhaps if they threw in a couple of toothy phantasms and oozed some slime around, the movie could've been redeemed.
You don't need a magic mirror to tell you this one isn't the fairest of them all.
on March 9, 2004
The cutesy Disney cartoon this ain't. Although the BASIC story structure remains, SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR is an interpretation that is much closer in tone and mood to the original somber tale by the Brothers Grimm, and in many ways it is actually even darker. Instead of a kiddie flick, then, what director Michael Cohn and crew serve up is a top-notch gothic horror film.
In this gloomier version of the famous fable, many of the familiar elements are wryly skewed. For example, the seven men who house the heroine (here called Lilliana, or Lilli, rather than Snow White) during her sojourn in the forest are not cutsie dwarves--although one is actually dwarfish--but are instead a bunch of grubby, ruffians who earn their living working mines. At first they want to use the girl to obtain a ransom from her wealthy father, but they soon develop a sort of fatherly affection for her. Another clever twist occurs when the hero revives Lilli after she has fallen comatose from eating the cursed apple. Instead of awakening her with an enchanted kiss, he repeatedly pushes on her midriff out of desperation, thereby dislodging the piece of fruit with a sort of primitive version of the Heimlich Maneuver. Such changes in narrative and characterization are perceptively clever and make the tale much more realistic and believable than its animated ancestor. However, despite this deliciously sardonic tweaking, remaining at the story's core is its familiar and enduring moral, to wit, that basic goodness will always triumph over hatefulness and vanity because the latter are ultimately self-destructive.
In the role of the wicked stepmother (as well as her evil mirror's reflection), Sigourney Weaver delivers a superbly malevolent performance as she schemes to destroy her beautiful stepdaughter. The lovely Monica Keena--most recently seen by horror fans playing the buxom Lori Campbell in 2003's FREDDY VS. JASON--does a very affecting job as the object of Weaver's disdain (i.e., Lilli), and Gil Bellows is very convincing and interesting as the hero and tacit love interest. Sam Neill does a fine job as the heroine's mostly clueless father, and the film's realism is further bolstered by outstanding supporting performances from talents like Brian Glover, Frances Cuka, David Conrad, Anthony Brophy, Christopher Bauer, and numerous others.
With SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR, director Michael Cohn and scripters Tom Szollosi & Deborah Serra recreate the tenebrous tone of the Grimm Brother's original story while, at the same time, they subtly thumb their noses at the saccharine, white-washed Disney interpretation. Mike Southon's beautiful cinematography is deliberately on the warm side of the spectrum, generating a autumnal ambiance perfectly suited to the plot. And the creative art direction by Peter Russell, outstanding pseudo-medieval production design of Gemma Jackson, and clever "period" costume designs from Marit Allen and Charles Knode add detail to the film that greatly enhances both the spooky ambiance and the fairy-tale quality of this twisted fable.
The DVD from Universal Studios Home Video offers a clean, crisp digital transfer in the original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. (Alas, it is only letterbox widescreen and not anamorphic, but it still looks beautiful.) The only real bonus feature is a trailer for the film, which curiously identifies it using one of its numerous alternate titles. The disc is very reasonably priced, though, so fans of old-fashioned gothic horror or grim Grimm fairy tales are hereby advised to add SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR to their collections.
on February 3, 2004
Monica Keena is the INCREDIBLY beautiful Lilliana, daughter of a newly remarried nobleman/widower (played by Sam Neill), and living in a European land just coming out of the medieval era. Lilli's new stepmother, Claudia (Sigourney Weaver), is obsessed with her own vanity, in more ways than one. She is determined that no one around her will be as attractive as she, or steal her new husband's attention away from her for even a moment. Soon, Claudia is with child, and when the baby is born dead, Claudia places all her anger and blame on Lilli. In her distraught condition, a new character emerges to take advantage of the situation. Something evil lives within the doors of Claudia's heirloom Vanity. Her mother's wicked mirror begins to tempt and guide Claudia into a life of cruelty and witchcraft. In no time, she has Lilli running for her life at every turn. The lovely young girl soon finds herself living with a nest of outcasts in the forest, who spend their days working in a mine, and their nights in unrest. At first they are cruel to the girl, whom they see as a spoiled "princess," but after saving her more than once, and at much sacrifice, they grow to love her. But the wicked Claudia has a final trick up her sleeve, an apple that will put Lilli in her coffin, and test the loyalty of her newfound friends.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror, is one of the best versions of the classic fairytale I have ever seen (second only to the Disney telling)! Without discarding the black magic, this live-action Snow White story takes a much more realistic view on the events of the well-known fable. The film works perfectly as both a fairytale, AND a scary movie (yes, it gets pretty intense at times), thanks to the rare and enchanting charm and beauty of Monica Keena, and the outstanding performance of Sigourney Weaver. You've never seen such a wicked stepmother as this! The characters are developed in such realistic ways, without leaving unanswered questions of why they feel the things they feel. The entire film is totally believable. Beautifully shot in perfect locations, with wonderful sets and costumes, this movie is a feast for the eyes as much as a thrilling adventure. Add this to your DVD shelf, between Ever After and Red Riding Hood! You won't regret it!
on August 19, 2000
Snow White Tale of Terror is an exceptional movie in many ways. The first is the performances of Gil Bellows, and Sigourney Weaver. Sigourney portrays the evil step-mother beautifully, form her initial kindness shown towards Lilli (Snow White is renamed Lilliana), and her hatred after she blames Lilli from her child being still born. She exudes depth and darkness and hate. She never overdoes it, but adds the right amount of mysterious intrigue, with the right amount of physicaly violence. Gil Bellows is another strong actor, protraying an ''excommunicated'' dwarf named Will beautifully. He is mysteriously quiet, and strangely haunting as a man scarred by fire having watched his family crucified by Crusaders. (This takes place in the 1330s). He is heartbreaking. Monica Keena does a good job as Lillianna, quite a contrast to her other roles. She plays a spoiled rich girl, who changed upon meeting Will. All in all, this film is dark, gothic, horror-filled, yet mysteriously sweet at time (the relationship between Lilli and WIll as an example). It's the true version of a classic fairytale, which manages to remain right in the middle ground of a horror story and a fairy tale.
on January 13, 2000
Sorry for the french title but it had to get out. I think thant this movie is quite good and not that far from the original version. Sure, it's darker and absolutely not for little children, but at least, they didn't film stupid things like Snow White who wakes up after the kiss of a prince! I also liked to see that the miners were 7 ordinary guys.
For myself, I thought that Lili did a good choice buy choosing Will over the noble! In the Disney movie, she chose the guy with the pretty face. In this version of Snow White, she chose the guy with the good heart. Isn't that a good lesson to learn to our children?
Very talented actors. Loved Gil Bellows (Will) who I think did a pretty good job at creating a caracter who was thought and scarred (physically and mentally) but became more sensible with the contact of Lili.
A last word in French? J'ai beaucoup aimé et j'attends avec impatience qu'il fassent 'La belle au bois dormant' de la même façon!
on December 15, 2000
Sigourney Weaver makes a wicked stepmother that would scare even Hannibal. This is a role that she clearly had fun with. She is a convincingly evil and complex villain who paves the way for a very dark fairy tale. She is human - and some of her impulses are all too understandable - what woman wouldn't want to give a child to a husband she loves (in the age she lived in)? Then again, she is also a witch.
The performances of younger actors, Snow White and her darling, are not as wonderful - they seem to be there mostly for the scenery. Then again, this movie is mostly about scenery, of particular kind: blood, guts, hearts, and poisoned apples (how could I forget about that!)
It's a good, well-executed horror movie that is only on the surface rooted in an innocent children's tale. I recommend it as a quirky, original change of pace. If nothing else, it's the definition of unusual.