Nazi killer Heidi and serial killer Winnie the Pooh: Why did children’s classics turn ultra-violent?

A naked couple frolics in an idyllic spot in the Alps. The woman asks the man to stay a little longer, but he says no: “The goats need love too. They don’t call me Pierre le Chevvrier for nothing. The scene, which looks like a porn version of Heidi, is really the introduction to the film mad heidia version of the classic for children with the endearing orphan from the Alps turned an anti-fascist guerrilla who stands up to the Swiss totalitarian regime which revolves around the monopoly of cheese, cheese that Peter traffics in secret.

A grindhouse-style movie, mad heidi is a revenge story that sits halfway between Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterdswhere Miss Rottenmeier is unsurprisingly recast as the leader of a concentration camp and Clara loses her legs in a fight.

Image of “Mad Heidi”, with its protagonist, Alice Lucy.

Produced in Switzerland and made with a budget of 3 million euros thanks to crowdfunding, the film will also be released this week in Germany, Austria and France. The villain of the play, a dictator who exterminates lactose intolerant people who are seen as betraying the Swiss homeland, is played by Casper van Dien, the star of the cult film Starship Troopers: Space Brigades (1997). The movie reminds Our remake of Robocop (2014), a send-off of the 1980s classic.

This film was distributed as a non-profit venture as he did not have the rights to the character. In the case of mad heidithe adaptation can be marketed because it does not reference the Japanese-style animated version, but rather the original 19th-century book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, which is now in the public domain.

For the same reason, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a horror film to be released in 2023, in which Hundred Acre Wood’s bear becomes a psychopathic killer due to Christopher Robin’s neglect. The general public will remember Winnie the Pooh from Disney cartoons and stories written in 1926 by AA Milne. The original classic passed into the public domain in January of this year.

Winnie the Pooh, pure evil in “Blood and Honey”.

Piglet, Pooh’s friend, will also appear in the film, but not other characters such as Tigger, which are still exclusively licensed to Disney, having been developed years later. The new adaptation is inspired by the original model and cannot recall the characterization or dialogue of Disney’s version. This is similar to the case of Mickey Mouse, which is slated to enter the US public domain in 2024, though that doesn’t mean it can be reproduced in any way, rather exclusively from black and original white. Steamer Willie image from 1928 – and without using the name, which remains a registered trademark.

Horror variants of children’s classics are a whole subgenre. Over the past decade, for example, up to six adult feature films have been produced based on Hansel and Gretel, the tale the Brothers Grimm published in 1812, including the bloody film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), produced by comedian Will Ferrell and directed by the director of Nazi Zombiesand Gretel and Hansel: A Grim Fairy Tale (2020), a serious horror film that has enjoyed some cult following thanks to the boost it received from streaming during lockdown.

The American slasher movie Pinocchio’s revenge (1996) – what appeared to be a reaction to Disney’s watered-down 1940 version of the tale – justified its existence with the argument that in the original published by Italian Carlo Collodi in the 1880s, Pinocchio was not all good. Among other things, he murdered cricket – his conscience – as soon as he met him.

Latent fears

But María Victoria Sotomayor, professor of Spanish literature and children’s literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid, has reservations about the argument that these films only emphasize the original elements of terror that have been eliminated or distorted by Disney. “I don’t think the spirit of those tales was to terrify,” she says. “In general, folk tales by an anonymous author and stemming from the most primitive oral tradition, were not created only for children but for everyone. Naturally, life is full of dangers, problems, joys and fears, encounters and misunderstandings, friends and enemies, and what is depicted here is an exaggeration of negative, difficult or conflicting content, so that I believe its true function is to offer a lesson in how to face and overcome this.

“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, from 2013.

Sotomayor dismisses the idea that Hansel and Gretel or Pinocchio sought to deter children from leaving home by exposing them to disturbing threats from the outside world, like the witch who wants to cook the siblings in Hansel and Gretel or the moment Pinocchio is turned into a donkey when he ran away. “Hansel and Gretel don’t abandon their home; it is their parents who abandon them in the forest. And Pinocchio is also a fable that goes far beyond warning children of dangers. According to many interpretations, Pinocchio is a faithful representation of an imperfect human being – contradictory and weak, but also good and noble, who stumbles towards maturity. As we all do.

Netflix will release a new animated version of Pinocchio next December, directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson. Not strictly speaking horror, this adaptation is nevertheless faithful to Del Toro’s fantastic imagination, with Gepetto a sort of tragic Dr. Frankenstein overwhelmed by his creation. Additionally, screenplay co-writer Del Toro sets the story in the context of Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, giving new meaning to the theme of obedience.

Although, mad heidi and Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey are parodies, they still evoke motifs of terror like the invisible friend who accompanies virtually every child in a horror film, and who invariably turns out to be a ghost or a demon; or other typical terror props, like the clown of This or the Annabelle porcelain doll from The conjuring universe.

A scene from
A scene from “Mad Heidi”.

“There could be some realization that childhood fears are part of the fears we have left in adulthood and, also, part of the new stories we forge in a cultural system that questions and conditions us” , explains Sotomayor. “Childhood is the origin of everything: of fear, of life and of one’s own personal identity. It makes sense to come back to it. Sotomayor then quotes writer HP Lovecraft: “Of all human emotions, the oldest and most powerful is fear, and of all fears, the oldest and most powerful is fear of the unknown.

Whether Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey was a hit upon its release, director Rhys Frake-Waterfield said it would create a cinematic universe based on fairy tales. Next on the list is Peter Pan: Neverland Nightmarefor JM Barrie’s story is also about to fall into the public domain.

. heidi killer nazis winnie the pooh killer series why the classics for children did become ultraviolent culture

. Nazi killer Heidi serial killer Winnie Pooh childrens classics turn ultraviolent

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