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Snow White: A Tale of Terror
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Snow White: A Tale of Terror More at IMDbPro »

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43 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Superb adaptation of soapy tale

Author: Jonathan Farrugia from Malta
7 May 1999

Although I liked Disney's version of the Snow White tale (and still keep it as the classic example of fairy-tale screen- handling), still I was positively struck with this adaptation. Now here's the version no-one would have dreamed of ever seeing. The all-innocent victimised princess has been turned into a proud little brat who despises her step-mother from the very first time she sees her; the mean, scheming, mirror-gazing step-mother was changed into a lady doing her best to be accepted by her husband's intolerant daughter - only after miscarrying her son does she turn into the stereotype of evil; the adorable seven little dwarfs were metamorphosized into seven miners, some of whom really hate the girl. Best of all the Prince charming has been erased and the silly "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" likewise. Anyway the film is a masterpiece from beginning to end - the highlights being the spells cast by the maddened step-mother. Being a gothic horror movie, it still has some spurts of really dark humour, such as Claudia saying, "Mmmm... Delicious!" when eating the supposedly cooked Lilly; and "I have brought someone to keep you company" (to the crucifix). The on-location shooting is very adequate and the superb performances from everyone make this a movie worth watching and appreciating.

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41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Very Good Horror/Fantasy Film That Deserves Wider Recognition

Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
21 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a more horror-oriented version of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", in which Snow White, in this case named Lilliana, or "Lila" (Monica Keena), has to deal with a psycho stepmother, named Claudia Hoffman (Sigourney Weaver) here, and ends up living with the seven dwarfs, or in this case, one dwarf and seven "rogues of the forest".

Snow White as a horror tale sounds like a good deal, and for the most part, it is when it comes to this film. However, there were a couple flaws that brought down my score to an 8 out of 10, but overall, this is a very good movie, well worth watching.

Let's get the flaws out of the way first--there are only two. The first is that some of the performances can tend towards melodrama, especially since director Michael Cohn does his best to ensure that no humor enters the proceedings. It's a very slight flaw, however, and is barely enough to subtract a point. On the whole, the performances here are very good, especially Keena and Weaver, and they are the focus of the film.

The more serious flaw is that a number of important developments in the plot go unexplained. There may have been an assumption that the audience is so familiar with the source material that they would be able to figure out these leaps, but most of the audience will only be familiar with filmic versions of Snow White, especially the Disney version. Questions such as "How did she awaken? Why did she spit the apple out?" are most easily answered by those with a familiarity with the original Brothers Grimm story. However, that's probably not a huge percentage of the film's audience. Having to piece together some of the plot is enough to draw the viewer out of the film's world a bit, and in conjunction with the melodrama, was significant enough for me to subtract two points.

But this film does a huge number of things right. It's clear from the opening scene, where Lilliana's parents are on their way home, riding in a carriage through a menacing forest. Vicious wolves, perhaps looking for food, attack, and the carriage goes tumbling down a hill. Lilliana's mother, pregnant and close to giving birth, is fatally wounded, and her father, Friedrich Hoffman (Sam Neill, playing a character undoubtedly named after E.T.A. Hoffman, another famous 19th Century fantasy writer), at Lilliana's request, cuts the baby out to save it, thereby also killing the mother. Although this isn't graphically shown, we do see blood pouring down the snow, which is another reference to the Grimm text, and this leads to the titles.

That kind of horror material occurs throughout the film. Make no mistake, this is not your typical family fare. We have hints of incest, cannibalism, rape, shrines to dead babies that later come back to life, and so on. Horror fans who also love more straightforward fantasy, such as myself, will love it, and in a way, it is much more consistent with the tone of the typical Brothers Grimm story (although the script is as far removed from this particular tale as Disney's is). Anyone with a more "sensitive" constitution should probably avoid the film, or at least make sure that they don't begin watching with preconceptions of a live action version of Disney's film.

Despite its flaws, this is a gem of a horror film--horror is "dark fantasy" after all--and deserves to be more well known.

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25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyably dark telling of the fairy tale

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
29 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On a trip home, Lord and Lady Hoffman's coach turns over and is attacked by wolves. Lady Hoffman gives birth to her child in the midst of death and Lord Hoffman brings her up alone. Years later Hoffman remarries to Claudia – but his daughter Lilly and her fail to hit it off. Claudia blames Lilly for keeping the memory of his first wife alive and for the death of her own child at birth. She tries to kill her but she flees into the forest where she is taken in by a gang of miners. However Claudia uses magic under the guidance of her all seeing mirror to strike at Lilly again.

I wasn't sure if this film had ever even seen the inside of an UK cinema but I decided to give it a go anyway and I found it to be enjoyable even if it felt like a pantomime without the comedy dame and a really big budget. The plot was quite intriguing to one who has only ever know the cartoon version, but it is close enough to that tale to be instantly recognisable. The dark, adult edge to it adds in some ways but at times it feels like it's trying too hard to be nasty. The film isn't too long which helps it have a brisk pace about it and it tries to skip from one reasonable exciting scene to another.

What really makes it worth watching is Weaver giving a really good performance as Claudia. She portrays a human face gradually being led into worse deeds by the lies of her mirror. She avoids hamming it up and is very enjoyable to watch. Neill is very much on the sidelines but another familiar face doesn't hurt. Keena isn't quite up to the role for me. She is good but when the danger comes she is really only a scream and not a character. The miners (7 dwarves) hold a few faces in Bellows and Glover but really they are either monsters or wear their "good guy really" badges on their sleeves from the start.

Overall this darker version is worth watching just to see a tale closer to the original version rather than the cartoon from Disney. Some of it feels like it doesn't have a good plot (the action scenes after the middle tended to blur together for me) but it holds together pretty well. The main reason for watching is a strong central role for Weaver.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

A Pleasant Halloween Surprise!

Author: WolfDad
1 November 1999

Trying to rent a "known" horror movie is somewhat of a Herculean task at 7:30 PM on Halloween night, and as such, I was down to the "slim pickins" on the horror shelf at the local video outlet, so I was surprised to see this movie still on the shelf, what with the star power attached to it and attractive video box. I'd never heard of it!

What a surprise to find a genuinely creepy and atmospheric horror story contained within, and a PERFECT movie to watch on Halloween night. The cinematography is sumptuous and lush, especially during the scenes in which the evil Lady is casting spells on Lilliana and her various compatriots. The story itself, though, is a little muddy and hard to follow (not much time is spent on character development, presuming the characters will all be familiar to you in an alternate-Disney-universe sort of way) and thus the film isn't as good as it could be. But all the actors and filmmakers make the best out of what they have, and the result is a genuinely creepy, and at some points disturbing (I challenge anyone to stay calm during the Lady's final confrontation with Lilliana) re-telling of a classic fairy tale. I highly recommend this movie as one to spring on one's friends, unaware ... in the dark.

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27 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Flawed, but still excellent

Author: acesis04 from Wisconsin
25 July 2004

When I picked this up, I wasn't sure I wanted to see it. I thought it looked kind of interesting, and I guess for five bucks in Wal-Mart, why not? I tend to like bad B movies, so what's the harm?

And despite my initial misgivings, I thought it was excellent.

The story wavered from the Grimm's version, but that's part of what makes it original. The portrayal of the era wasn't perfect, but then that didn't hurt the story much either. I thought the acting was done pretty well, especially Sigourney Weaver. She worked well with a character that was pretty weirdly written. I loved her as the old woman in the forest and in the final scene. Very eerie. Very cool.

The scenes with Lilliana and the dwarfs were a bit choppy in parts--first Will threatened her, then he saved her, then he yelled at her, then...yadda yadda yadda--but Monica Keena played the sheltered damsel well and Gil Bellows was good at the whole "tortured but sincere" act. I was definitely left imagining what the screenwriters should have put in the holes, but all in all I thought that storyline was sweet.

Definitely not a movie for children, but then the title and rating suggest so. Again, some of the story needed to be filled out and explained more, but in total, I loved it. Creepy and cool and fun.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

More Realistic than the fairytale version

Author: Shooshoo80 from Atlanta, Ga
29 June 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like the fairy tale version of Snow white,but I always had a couple of questions about the story. (1)Why did the evil queen die so easily? (Lighting strikes the cliff and the queen falls to her death. Come on! I was a little kid when I read the story but give me some credit.) (2)Why did Snow White fall deeply in love with the prince? She barely knows him. (3) Why did the huntsman decide not to kill Snow White? I doubt that her kindness had an effect on his decision. These are couple of questions I always had pertaining to Snow White. The movie version of the tale, which I found out recently is closer to the original version, answers most my questions. The characters were more realistic. The movie was a good mix of realism and fantasy. The movie isn't really scary or gruesome, but it is supenseful and creepy. I liked the change of the dwarfs. I would of liked the movie to go into more detail about the relationship between the stepmother and Snow White. The twist with the love interest was good too. Also, Snow White in this movie has more heart than in the Disney version. If this movie had a little bigger budget, some good advertising, and people seriously backing it than it probably would of been in the theaters around the same time as "Ever After". More people need to take notice of Monica Keena (Snow White), more likely known from the show Dawson Creek and the made for T.V. movie First Daughter, she's one of the few good young actors out today. Gil Bellows was good in his part too. And Mrs. Weaver is excellent in her role as the evil stepmother. Everybody else in the movie was decent. For all the people who are expecting a gorefest with nudity, look elsewhere because this isn't the movie for you. The movie is based more on atmosphere and the humanization of the characters. The movie is a gothic fantasy film with a little bit of horror, romance, and suspense mixed together. I give the movie a 7/10.

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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A fun and gripping tale of terror without all the gore

Author: blhenkle from United States
24 October 2005

We stumbled on this movie by chance and have now seen it at least three times. This is a must see, and see again, and again, and again... From the opening scene, the movie pulls you in and keeps you hooked until the end. This is definitely not a movie for kids. All the basic elements of the classic "Snow White" tale are in place, but with a twist that sets them slightly within the realm of possibility. There are no cute bearded dwarfs here, and it's just not as simple as an evil witch versus an innocent girl. Sigourney Weaver as Claudia Hoffman is entirely too scary for words, while Monica Keena as Lili is a sweet but strong Snow White. Gil Bellows is highly satisfying as Will, an intense forest rogue with more to him than meets the eye. A very satisfying movie all around.

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

The Grimm Brothers classic tale of horror comes to life!

Author: Jack the Ripper1888 from Chicagooooooo
26 July 2002

After seeing this film, I had mixed feelings. I was wondering if I was confused, excited, blown away or a combination of all three. SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR. A film based somewhat more accurately on the Grimm Brothers classic horror story, you are going to enjoy it no matter what! Sam Neill and Sigourney Weaver were very good in the film. It starts off slow, developing the characters and becoming a nice, little period piece. Until the horror begins...

I apologize, but I cannot remember a single name from the entire film, aside from Snow White, so you will just have to bear with me. I was slightly confused with what I was being given. All I knew, was that I liked it. I like old fashioned Gothic horror stories that go back a couple hundred years to give you a nice tale of terror. The real legend of Snow White is here. The Grimm Brothers' tale has been created in vibrant life and its all here. The apple and all.

All the elements of the snobby rich people, the poor, the forest, the deadness all around and the gothic atmosphere combine to create a genuinely bone-chilling tale. SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR gets 4/5.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Dark Re-telling of a Classic Fairy-Tale

Author: RobertF87 from Scotland
4 March 2005

One word of warning, this isn't the Disney film of "Snow White" and it would be wise to think twice before letting the children watch it.

The tensions between "Snow White", here named Lilli Hoffman (Played by Taryn Davis as a child and then by Monica Keener as a teenager) and her step-mother Claudia (Sigourney Weaver) are quite well-drawn. Claudia is not completely unsympathetic and Lilli is not quite as innocent as in some versions of the story. Also the dwarfs are presented as a group of scarred, bitter outlaws.

The film sustains a wonderful medieval atmosphere and has some very good performances, particularly from Sigourney Weaver. However it suffers a lot from an unevenness of tone. It's far too dark and violent for children, but then it's not quite scary enough for adults.

That being said, horror and fantasy fans may find it quite enjoyable.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Gothic fairytale that should have focused more on its subversions

Author: ThrownMuse from The land of the Bunyips
5 May 2005

I hated this when it was initially released, but I really appreciated it this second time around. It is no Disney flick and not intended for children. From what I understand, it is based on the original source by the Grimm Brothers. While it is never particularly scary, the effects are great, and it is darkly atmospheric (especially the scenes outside of the castle and in the surrounding woods). Sigourney Weaver is excellent as the Wicked Stepmother (who, it is suggested, isn't inherently wicked but driven insane after a miscarriage). Monica Keena does a decent job as Lily, the Snow White figure who has never been beyond the castle, and knows nothing but her privileged upbringing. The "seven dwarfs" (only one is an actual "little person") are actually a group of miners trying to strike it rich and find a better life, and they aren't exactly cordial when the princess stumbles upon their abode. They are led by the unbelievably foxy Gil Bellows (who knew a castmember of Ally MacBeal could!). The story is ultimately a successful tale of looking beyond social class, but it would have benefited more from focusing on the eschewing of Prince Charming as well as showing what was going on inside of the stepmother's head. She is unfortunate but never a sympathetic character. My Rating: 7/10.

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