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Different Shades of Snow White


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'Snow White: A Tale of Terror' (1997)
'Snow White: A Tale of Terror' (1997)

'Snow White: A Tale of Terror' (1997)

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment

Who can resist a title like that? It must have seemed to many like a deviation, in much the same way as familiar films recast as porn titles, despite the fact that fairy stories before Disney often contained as much of what we now call horror as they did romance and happy endings. It was released theatrically in Europe but aired in the United States as a TV movie.

This 1997 entry, directed by Michael Cohn, starred stars Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill, and Monica Keena in a significant twist on the Snow White theme, departing both from Grimm and Disney. In particular, the girl's difficulties are more closely connected to social conflicts in their grubbily medieval setting, and the dwarfs, now miners, are, for perhaps the first time, explicitly sexualized (their leader is played by handsome Ally McBeal star Gil Bellows).

Unfortunately, in order to establish credibility as a horror film Snow White: A Tale of Terror descends into hapless gore. In the midst of the mayhem the central, indeed title, role of Snow White vanishes into nothing: Monica Keena's Snow White is not only passive but empty, and her virtue gains little in the way of magical reward. As you might expect, Sigourney Weaver, in yet another Snow-White-eclipsing star turn for the Queen, is the only one to emerge unscathed.

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