Synopsis: If you thought Snow White was only a fairy tale, you’re about to discover the truth, but lock up your children first. The real tale of Snow White, is a tale of relentless terror and unimaginable horror. When young Lillian’s mother dies during childbirth, the father soon remarries the well-intentioned Lady Claudia. However, Claudia’s heart is ruled not by her husband, but by an evil mirror with the power to make Claudia Queen over all living things…until they are dead.
A failed attempt to murder young Lillian leaves her wandering lost in a deep dark forest where she comes across seven dwarfs-but wait, you think you know the rest of this story? Far from it. Handsome princes and dwarfs cannot always save the day. This movie will prove once and for all that blood is thicker than water, and evil, like an apple, comes around.
For those who prefer their fairy tales grim comes ‘Snow White: A Tale of Terror’, a darker take on the story we’ve all known since childhood. It was made as a TV movie in the mid-’90s but released in cinemas in some international markets (hence the movie poster above).
I first attempted to watch this film on VHS tape about a dozen years ago. I used to work at a video store (surprise, surprise! ) and we not only had access to all the videos that were still in store at closing time, but we also got screener copies of movies that were to be released in the near future.
As can be imagined, during those years, I tended to cram as many movies as I could fit into my schedule. There were two reasons for this: 1) to develop a knowledge base of our store’s inventory, so that I could better serve our customers, and 2) because my interest in cinema and music can become obsessive. Rather.
The problem is that I would sometimes attempt to watch movies after my late shift and, by the time I got home, I was so tired that I’d nod off midway. At the time, a buddy of mine would regularly drop by for these late shows, and he would frequently find himself stuck with a snoozing host. What patience and/or understanding some of my friends have.
Thus I saw the very beginning of ‘Snow White: A Tale of Terror’, but never the rest of it. I only remembered that it seemed appealing, but the only thing I really knew about it was what my buddy told me: that it was so-so – neither bad or good. Had he raved about it, I would have made a point to give it another chance. But a tepid appraisal kept it off my radar.
I got the chance to pick up the DVD for a couple of bucks a few months ago, and I decided to take the plunge. The film had remained in the back of my mind all these years and, although I was in no rush to see it, I remained curious to know exactly what a horror version of Snow White might be like. It must be noted that I’ve long known that Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales were darker than the traditional adaptations but, having never read any, I have no sense of what that could entail. Still, I was intrigued.
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
*MAJOR spoiler alert*
The key problem with this film is its unmistakable whiff of cheap veneer. In fact, if I didn’t know beforehand that this was made for TV I’d have justly wondered who had produced this cheapie – because it doesn’t give off the impression of an A-grade film. In fact, I’m actually kind of surprised that it was released theatrically in some markets; it just doesn’t seem worthy. Then again, ‘Red Riding Hood (2011)’ was a large-scale release, and it was much MUCH worse.
-Sam Neil, who was incredible in such fare as ‘Sirens’ and ‘The Final Conflict’ (playing none other than the spawn of Satan!), is bland bland bland in ‘Snow White’ A Tale of Terror’. To make matters worse, his wig was an eye-sore (as were most of the men’s wigs in this production ). Perhaps this prevented him from feeling the part and, thus, neutered his performance?
-Sigouney Weaver is quite good as Lady Hoffman, actually. However, as what the original tale claims as being the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, I was left less than impressed. She is quite beautiful, don’t get me wrong (I’ve always quite liked Weaver actually ), but I can’t fathom that there aren’t a few others that would lay claim to that title before she did. Admittedly, this part of the original story isn’t a focus of the telefilm, but it’s nonetheless difficult to forget; it nagged at me throughout.
The producers did get a great score from John Ottman, however. It was one of his first, and there’s a reason why he’s become a name in the industry. Here he offers a soundtrack that belies the film’s low-budget pedigree. Would I purchase it on CD? Perhaps. It was by far the high point of this film.
While ‘Snow White: A Tale of Terror’ doesn’t lack in the twists and turns department, it surprisingly wasn’t all that engaging. By the end, I was actually relieved that it was finally over, as I had been looking forward to it for some time. It’s not a terrible film, per se, but it could have been so much more. It could have had better performances, a more coherent script and a whole lot more terror. As it stands, it’s more a blueprint of what could have been than a fully realized vision.