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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

25 Plays, Ballets and Pantomimes To See This Christmas (Part One)

As families search for entertainment during the cold, dark winter nights, theatres seek to attract them with adaptations of classic family-friendly stories. Retellings of familiar stories can provide colourful, engaging escapism for viewers of all ages, so theatres compete to provide the most entertaining adaptations of old favourites for the stage, gaining particularly large audiences during the Christmas holidays. There are numerous interesting pieces of fairy tale theatre available this Christmas, so this list will be split into two parts. This part will focus on plays and musicals based on fairy tales and classic children's novels. Part Two, which will be published in a few days time, will focus on ballets and pantomimes...

Plays in London

London's numerous theatres are incredibly busy during Christmas, as tourists and families flock to see a wide variety of plays in the city. In addition to long-running West End favourites like Wicked, Aladdin and The Lion King, there will be a number of new family-friendly plays for audiences to enjoy this Christmas...

A Christmas Carol

Where: The Old Vic, London

When: Until 20th January

If there is one story which is synonymous with Christmas, it is A Christmas Carol, the 1843 Charles Dickens classic about the miser Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts who visit him on Christmas Eve in order to make him change his ways. A Christmas Carol has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, with Scrooge played by iconic actors such as Alister Sim, Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent. In this version from The Old Vic, Scrooge will be played by Rhys Ifans, who has starred in movies such as Notting Hill and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Ifans is under a lot of pressure to provide a memorable take on Scrooge, as this eagerly-anticipated production has been created by two of the biggest names in British Theatre - director Matthew Warchus (Matilda: The Musical) and writer Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). This adaptation of A Christmas Carol is going to be darker than most versions of the story (The Old Vic have recommended it for audiences aged 11 and above) but it seems like it will capture the spirit of Dickens' tale of redemption whilst doing enough to stand out in its own right.


Where: The National Theatre, London

When: 1st December - 10th April

Following last year's acclaimed adaptation of Peter Pan, The National Theatre will try and gain another hit this Christmas by providing a new version of Pinnochio, with Joe Idris-Roberts as the titular wooden puppet. In order to make this production even more appealing for a family audience, they have gained the rights to use the iconic songs from the 1940 Disney adaptation, including 'I've Got No Strings', 'Give a Little Whistle', and, of course, the legendary 'When You Wish Upon A Star'. However, director John Tiffany and writer Dennis Kelly have been given the freedom to make a number of changes to the source material in order to please modern audiences. Most notably, Jiminy Cricket, the insect who serves as a voice of reason for Pinnochio, is now being played by a woman, updating a character often seen as synonymous with the conventions and values of 1940s America..

The National Theatre adaptation of Pinnochio is probably going to be a bit too scary for very young children, as some of the most horrifying scenes from the source material (such as the trip to Pleasure Island) remain intact in this version. However, it looks like it will retain the magical appeal of the Disney film whilst providing its own unique and theatrical touches. Thus, it is probably going to be a must-watch for families going to the theatre over the next few months.

The Box of Delights

Where: Wilton's Music Hall, London

When: 1st December - 6th January

Based in the East End Suburbs, Wilton's Music Hall is one of London's oldest and most fascinating theatres, having hosted shows and performances since the 19th century. This Christmas, Wilton's Music Hall is putting on an adaptation of John Masefield's classic 1935 children's novel The Box of Delights, which is a perfect fit for an old-fashioned venue with a remarkable history. The Box of Delights tells the story of a boy who meets a showman with incredible magic powers and a box which can allow people to travel through time. Although it was a sequel to Masefield's earlier book The Midnight Folk, it has become far more iconic than the original story and in 1984, it was adapted into an acclaimed television series which starred Devin Stanfield and Patrick Troughton. This version of The Box of Delights is being brought to the stage by acclaimed children's author Piers Torday and director Justin Audibert, with Matthew Kelly and Josefina Gabrielle leading the cast. If you have had enough of Central London, it is definitely worth heading to Wilton's in order to see this intriguing take on Mansfield's enthralling story.

Wilde Creatures

Where: The Vaudeville Theatre, London

When: 15th December - 31st December

The 19th century author Oscar Wilde is renowned for his witty comedic plays, such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere's Fan, but he also created a number of brilliant and beautiful fairy tales, including The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant. Some of these fairy tales are getting their moment in the spotlight in the show Wilde Creatures, which is being performed as part of an Oscar Wilde Season at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Wilde Creatures is an hour-long play from Tall Stories, a company which specialises in creating short plays based on children's novels such as The Gruffalo. Like their previous works, Wilde Creatures will blend music, comedy and storytelling. In the play, characters from three Oscar Wilde fairy tales (The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose and The Birthday of the Infanta) will compete to gain a statue in their honour, whilst a group of musicians (the titular Wilde Creatures) provide the narration.. Overall, Wilde Creatures looks like an excellent way of introducing young children to both the works of Oscar Wilde and the world of theatre...

Plays Outside London

Although there are plenty of great plays in London, it is incredibly insulting to reduce all British theatre to that single city. All of Britain's major villages and cities have a major theatre or two, and many of these are providing family-friendly plays and musicals just as impressive as those available in the English capital. These six plays are particularly worth seeing this Christmas, regardless of whether or not you live nearby...

Beauty and the Beast

Where: The Festival Theatre, Chichester

When: 16th December - 31st December

The most successful fairy tale film this year has been Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which made over $1 billion and renewed interest in the 18th-century fairy tale which inspired it. Chichester Festival Youth Theatre are capitalising on this with a new and unique version of Beauty and the Beast far closer to Gabrielle-Suzanne De Villeneuve's original story than the 1991 Disney classic adapted from it. This production seems darker and more mysterious than the Disney film, as Beauty and her spoiled brothers and sisters come across the fearsome Beast, but there will be a lot for kids to enjoy as well, with Richard Taylor even creating a variety of new songs for this production. Chichester is notable for providing high-quality regional theatre, and this take on Beauty and the Beast looks like it will be a must-see for any families visiting the area this Christmas.

The Arabian Nights

Where: The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

When: Until 6th January

The winter months are especially cold in Edinburgh, but a bright and colourful play can really lift the spirits and warm the heart. This Christmas, The Royal Lyceum Theatre will be taking audiences to the heart of the Middle East with their play The Arabian Nights. In contrast to the Orientalist kitsch of Aladdin pantomimes, The Arabian Nights will provide a far more respectful take on the classic Arabian stories first collected in the 9th century, with an exciting and action-packed new narrative provided by Suhayla El-Bushra. In this play, the storyteller Scheherezade will seek to protect her world from a tyrannical sultan by telling stories ranging from familiar classics such as Aladdin and Ali Baba to more obscure and unusual tales such as The Genie, the Girl and the Chess Playing Monkey Boy. Director Joe Douglas has promised a play full of "colour, heat, magic, adventure and song", and it definitely looks like this production will provide entertainment which is colourful, unique and still perfect for Christmas...

The Jungle Book

Where: Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton

When: 28th November - 31st December

In recent years, film-makers have taken a renewed interest in Rudyard Kipling's short story collection The Jungle Book. Disney's live-action remake of their iconic 1967 adaptation was a major critical and commercial hit in 2016, and Andy Serkis' darker, more adult version of Kipling's classic is due in cinemas next year. In order to capitalise on the popularity of The Jungle Book, Olivier Award-Winning writer Jessica Swale and director Max Webster have created a new version of this iconic text for the stage. It will use the medium of theatre to put a new spin on the familiar story of Mowgli, the human boy raised by wolves in the jungle, and his battle with the sinister tiger Shere Khan. It seems like this version is closer to Kipling's universe than Disney's, but it will provide plenty of music and comedy for family audiences, with no shortage of creative special effects used to bring the animals of the jungle to life. This production will premiere in Northampton, before starting a tour of the UK in January. With its memorable characters and fascinating setting, The Jungle Book seems like it will become pretty popular with family audiences over the next few months.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Where: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

When: 29th November - 27th January

Sally Cookson has gained a reputation as one of Britain's most innovative theatre directors, thanks to her acclaimed versions of Jane Eyre and Peter Pan. This Christmas, she is heading to Leeds to direct an adaptation of the C.S. Lewis classic The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, about four siblings who discover a mysterious world hidden behind a wardrobe. In order to satisfy the high levels of interest in Cookson's new production, The West Yorkshire Playhouse has been expanded to seat over 1000 theatregoers.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is best known for its Christian overtones, but for her version, Sally Cookson is updating the story by focusing on the development of the four protagonists, the Pevensies. They are evacuees sent to live in the countryside during World War Two, and Cookson aims to draw parallels between their experiences and those of the refugees seeking shelter in Britain today. Her production looks like it will put a new spin on the 1950 novel whilst retaining the magic and mystery which has made it into a Christmas classic...

The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales

Where: Bristol Old Vic, Bristol

When: 30th November - 14th January

After its successful run at the Globe Theatre last Christmas, The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales is touring the UK, arriving in Bristol just in time for the Christmas holidays. In this single-act play from director Emma Rice and writer Joel Horwood, Hans Christian Andersen's bleak yet beautiful fairy tale The Little Matchgirl is used as a framing story, with the impoverished titular protagonist using her last remaining matches to conjure up visions of Ole Shuteye, who tries to keep her entertained by telling her the stories of Thumbelina, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Princess and the Pea. The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales has been praised for its creative visuals and puppetry, and its success at balancing the tragedy of The Little Matchgirl with the more upbeat and comedic tone of the tales which accompany it. The Little Matchgirl and Other Happier Tales is highly recommended for any families seeking a more mature (yet still child-friendly) alternative to the traditional Christmas theatre...

Treasure Island

Where: The New Vic, Newcastle-Under-Lyme

When: Until 27th January

The New Vic, based in the Staffordshire suburb of Newcastle-Under-Lyme, is famous for its "in-the-round" stage, which engages the audience by allowing them to see the action from all sides. Their Christmas play this year is a take on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island , with the 1883 novel about pirates and the search for buried treasure being turned into an exciting play full of adventure and swordfights. The overwhelmingly masculine source material is being updated for a more diverse audience, with several key characters reimagined as females. For example, protagonist Jim Hawkins is now called Jem and played by Nisa Cole. However, this adaptation will stay true to the heart of Treasure Island, as Jem's coming-of-age and her friendship with the mysterious Long John Silver will remain key elements of the story. Blending the traditional thrills of Stevenson's tale with a new modern and progressive approach, this take on Treasure Island looks like it will provide the bright and colourful escapism needed during the long and cold winter nights.

Friday, 10 November 2017

10 Disney Darkfics for Horror Fans

(Warning: Disney movies are famous for being family-friendly fun, but these darkfics are NOT suitable for younger or more sensitive audiences. All the darkfics listed here are consistently dark and disturbing, with a few containing scenes that could upset even the most enthusiastic horror fans. If you're into the horror genre, then you shouldn't have a problem with these darkfics, but if you aren't, tread carefully...)

Even though they have become synonymous with overly upbeat and sanitized family entertainment, all Disney films contain plenty of dark elements. These have inspired numerous fanfic authors, who have used Disney films as the basis for darker and edgier fanfics known as darkfics. These take full advantage of the creative freedom provided in the world of fanfiction, emphasising the darker aspects of the source material whilst tackling topics which could never be discussed in a family-friendly animated musical. Many of the best Disney darkfics belong to the horror genre. In order to be considered horror, a work must generate a consistent and pervasive atmosphere of terror and unease, unsettling audiences and playing on their worries and anxieties. Horror stories usually depict vulnerable and defenceless characters having to face seemingly unstoppable monsters who embody and represent widely-held fears, but some works in the horror genre are told from the perspective of these monsters.

This article lists the best horror darkfics based on Disney films, highlighting the fact that even the most optimistic fairy tales can inspire works which are legitimately disturbing and scary. Numerous darkfics were considered for this list, but only 10 could be chosen. Thus, a number of excellent darkfics were not included. Five of the best darkfics omitted from the main countdown are instead listed as Honourable Mentions. The 10 which made the list are inspired by a variety of Disney movies ranging from Snow White to Moana. They represent an array of horror subgenres, featuring zombies, ghosts, serial killers, and other scary elements. However, they are all creative, atmospheric and disturbing, drawing on the influence of Disney's characters and stories in an unusual and twisted way whilst also being excellent works in their own right.

Honourable Mentions

Based On: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Based On: Frozen

(Also available on

Based On: Moana

Based On: Sleeping Beauty

Based On: Tangled

The Top 10 Disney Darkfics For Horror Fans

Based On: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

(Plot: After Snow White's Prince wakes her from the enchanted sleep, he looks forward to enjoying his happily ever after with the beautiful princess. However, there is now something strange about Snow White, and the Prince gradually comes to realise that bringing her back to life had unexpected and disastrous consequences...)

Disney's version of Snow White popularised the notion of 'True Love's Kiss' - the idea that a kiss from a love interest could literally have the power to bring a seemingly dead character back to life. Most criticisms of this concept have centred on the idea that its unrealistic for a kiss from a near-total stranger to have so much power. However, After the Kiss takes a very different approach - what if True Loves Kiss was problematic because it interfered with the natural order of life and death? This unnerving question inspires a unique and creative spin on the zombie genre.

Fairy tales about the perils of waking the dead are not unusual. The Brothers Grimm story The Three Snake Leaves used a similar premise, showing a princess being resurrected by magic and becoming evil. However, After the Kiss is far superior to The Three Snake Leaves, due to the careful set-up. At first, Snow White's inability to sleep and increasingly pale skin are dismissed as minor problems, but as time progresses and her condition gradually worsens, the Prince's growing fear and unease is resoundingly vindicated. The climactic visual of a completely zombified Snow White, with her seven dwarves converted into feral henchmen, is chilling proof that a kiss which seemed to save Snow White has actually destroyed her. Ultimately, After the Kiss provides a creative spin on the zombie genre which teaches us that the magic associated with fairy tales can have awful side effects and needs to be examined carefully...

Based On: The Little Mermaid

(Plot: Eric gets trapped in a parallel world where he is imprisoned and tortured for months by a sadistic alternate version of Ariel. The real Ariel manages to rescue Eric from this world and bring him back to life, but eventually comes to realise just how badly his ordeal has affected him...)

Out of all the darkfics on this list, Ariel's Revenge is the most unpleasant by some distance, containing cannibalism, animal cruelty, sexual abuse and plenty of gore. It certainly succeeds in its purpose of upsetting, disturbing, and disgusting readers. The first half of the story sees Eric become the victim of a creepy siren who looks almost like Ariel, but has suspiciously grey skin and an unsettling voice. She also does things that the real Ariel would never even contemplate, such as abusing Eric in a variety of ways whilst eating his flesh piece by piece. Once the real Ariel arrives, the story shifts to her perspective, showing just how Eric's experiences have destroyed his relationship with her. The graphic violence and the near-total lack of explanation for Eric's plight gives this story an incredibly nightmarish feel, and the fact that we care so much about Ariel and Eric makes it even crueller.

In the comments section accompanying the story, Untherius claims that Ariel's Revenge is a rebellion against "all that cutsie Disney Princess stuff". You could say that about almost all the darkfics mentioned in this article, but with its gruesome violence and unrelenting misery, Ariel's Revenge is an especially vicious response. However, the compelling story, unnerving central monster and consistently unsettling atmosphere elevate Ariel's Revenge above other NSFW "Torture Porn" fanfics and earn it a place on this list. More sensitive readers should stay as far away from Ariel's Revenge as possible, but if you have a strong stomach and a taste for more extreme types of horror, then this harrowing story is worth checking out.

(Also available on and Tumblr)

Based On: Frozen 

(Plot: Desperate to escape from her lonely life with her troubled, reclusive sister Elsa, Anna Arendelle gets impulsively married to seemingly perfect widower Hans Westergard. However, life with Hans in his lavish estate isn’t the fairy tale ideal she expected, and Anna soon finds herself becoming increasingly close to his stable hand, Kristoff. But Hans is keeping a dark secret, hidden inside a mysterious locked room, and it could endanger everything Anna holds dear…)

Dark as Snow already appeared on an earlier list on this blog (which showcased the best fairy tale mash-ups), and its a real pleasure to talk about it again. It is one of only two multi-chapter darkfics mentioned in this article (Within These Walls is only an Honourable Mention) and the extra length allows it to develop the characters and build up tension and mystery. The decision to do a version of Angela Carter's iconic short story The Bloody Chamber (probably the best and most popular adaptation of the twisted Perrault fairy tale Bluebeard) featuring the characters from Frozen in the key roles is genuinely inspired, as both tales play on our fears that impulsively getting engaged to a person we don't know might be an incredibly bad idea. Needless to say, Dark as Snow delivers this message in a manner which is far closer to The Bloody Chamber than Frozen. In fact, the version of Hans featured in Dark as Snow - a sadistic, manipulative control freak whose depravity knows no bounds - is probably the scariest and most twisted villain on this list, which is a pretty impressive achievement.

Many of the most terrifying moments in Dark as Snow (such as the scene where Anna enters the locked room and finds out what happened to Hans's previous wife) are adapted pretty closely from The Bloody Chamber. However, Anysia manages to put her own spin on them, and the violence here feels genuinely brutal and unsettling. One of the main reasons for this is her ability at getting inside Anna's head and allowing us to feel everything she feels. As a result, we sympathize with Anna and really feel sorry for her as her fairy tale dream turns out to be the most horrible nightmare imaginable. When she finally fights back in the climax, it is a wonderfully satisfying moment. Dark As Snow is an excellent horror story, but it also succeeds as a romantic drama (Anna's relationship with Kristoff provides some much-needed sweetness and warmth), a psychological thriller, a coming-of-age tale, and a feminist statement about a woman gaining the courage to stand up to the ultimate abusive husband. In short, it's proof that fanfics can be as exciting and enthralling as the works which inspired them...

Based On: Frozen

(Plot: When Elsa accidentally struck Anna in the heart with her magic, it turned her into a cruel tyrant. In order to get her revenge, she makes Elsa into her slave and uses her magic to turn all of the kingdom to ice...)

In Frozen, Elsa is a compelling character because of her ability to control ice and snow, but these powers are incredibly dangerous, and mastering them is no easy task. The idea that Elsa's powers can kill people if she loses control of them has inspired many a darkfic, but Death of Her Heart puts a disturbing new spin on the idea. In this story, Elsa's inability to control her ice powers doesn't kill Anna, but it does something even worse - Anna's heart is not just frozen, it no longer exists, and she has now become a merciless monster with nothing but hatred for Elsa...

Death of Her Heart features some impressively cold winter imagery, and the blank, immobile perfection of the frozen wasteland created by Anna is pretty creepy. However, the primary source of horror is seeing a character like Anna turn into a cruel and sadistic monster. From the beginning, the descriptions and dialogue highlight how Anna has turned truly heartless, with all the "once-glorious life" in the kingdom eradicated for the sake of a pretty visual. The violence is certainly uncomfortable to read about, with Anna chaining Elsa up like a dog and carving snowflakes into her arm, but the scariest thing here is the extent to which Anna is willing to make Elsa suffer for her mistakes. With its grim central concept and an ending entirely devoid of hope, Death of Her Heart is an incredibly bleak read, but the powerful writing and the overwhelming sense of tragedy make it impossible to forget...

Based On: Frozen

(Plot: When they were playing as children, Elsa lost control of her ice powers and accidentally killed Anna. As a result, Anna became a ghost who continues to haunt her older sister...)

As we all know, Frozen begins with Elsa accidentally injuring Anna with her ice powers, causing the rift between the two which defines the movie. Numerous horror darkfics take this opening sequence and use it as the basis for stories which ask the question "What if Anna had died in that accident and returned  to haunt Elsa as a ghost?". Out of the numerous darkfics in this subgenre, Do You Want To Build A Snowman? is probably the best. At under 500 words long, it is the shortest story on this list by a considerable distance, but every single syllable is used to show how creepy and threatening this version of Anna is. The story focuses on Elsa and her efforts to avoid responding to this version of her sister, with the short, simple sentences and effective use of present tense building a sense of dread before Elsa finally snaps. When we finally see Anna and her horde of hideous snowmen (any fanfic which can make us frightened by the phrase "I like warm hugs" deserves praise) it is definitely worth the terrifying build-up. In the horror genre, less is usually more, and Do You Want To Build A Snowman? demonstrates how unsettling a short, simple story can be with just a few creepy images and ideas...

Based On: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Tangled

(Plot: Rapunzel is a young woman with healing hair, imprisoned in a tower by a domineering mother. Rapunzel has been hearing stories about how dangerous the forest is, centred on the mysterious princess who inhabits it and seems to have total control over all the plants and animals. However, she soon realises that this princess is an ally rather than a threat...)

Don't Go Into The Woods, My Love is the only darkfic on this list which combines two different Disney films into a single narrative. This is handled pretty effectively - Although Snow White and Rapunzel are kept apart for the majority of the story, it is easy to believe that they can exist in the same universe. Both Snow White and Rapunzel are associated with the mysterious and magical German forests which inspired the Brothers Grimm, and these are portrayed in a wonderfully atmospheric fashion. Afterism succeeds in making us believe that the forest is truly alive, and that Snow White has unusual powers and capabilities far greater than the average princess. There is more than enough dark and twisted imagery for this fanfic to be classified as a horror, including feral dwarves, blood turning into vines, and a floor laid with bones and apple cores, but these all fit this world perfectly, enhancing the distinctive combination of beauty and terror which makes this story so alluring...

Don't Go Into the Woods, My Love perfectly fits the literary subgenre of dark, feminist modern fairy tales pioneered by Angela Carter. This version of Snow White is sinister, mysterious and almost monstrous, but she is also a powerful, independent and compelling character able to destroy foolish princes with ease. A brief scene where she meets a young boy obsessed with being Prince Charming really demonstrates that she is not the helpless victim traditionally associated with both fairy tales and the horror genre. Rapunzel's side of the story could have been developed in a bit more detail (her links to the forest need to be foreshadowed more clearly) but the scene where she stands up to her mother is impressively nasty, and it's easy to buy the fact that she has an irrepressible bond with Snow White, given their incredible powers. Don't Go Into the Woods, My Love is probably the least conventional story on this list, and this is what makes it so appealing. Instead of being about the suffering of helpless protagonists, it is about two assertive women creating their own unconventional world, and anyone who stands in their way can expect to be in plenty of trouble...

Based On: Alice In Wonderland

(Plot: Alice wants to experience a totally nonsense world, but when she ends up in Wonderland, she finds herself out of her depth in a world full of strange and creepy creatures such as the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts. It is not long before she learns that she has to be careful what she wishes for...)

Alice In Wonderland takes place in a fantasy world defined by its total lack of rules, Although the Lewis Caroll story and the Disney film which it inspired are primarily comedic, there is something pretty terrifying about a world which is impossible to control, and Ephemeral_Everlast is skilled at exploiting this. Inquisitive really emphasises the nightmarish aspects of Wonderland, as Alice finds out the hard way that a world she hoped would be fun and colourful is actually completely hideous.

The changes which turn the familiar tale into an adults-only darkfic are disturbingly subtle. The Cheshire Cat now has fangs, the 'Unbirthday' cake of The Mad Hatter seems to be alive, and the bullying Flowers emit poison. Most importantly, the story emphasises Alice's thoughts and feelings. When seen from her perspective, the Queen of Hearts is a pretty scary character - she's essentially a tyrant who wants to behead a little girl for no reason. The basic storyline is unchanged, but Inquisitive is a far shorter, leaner story - like Alice, it wants to get out of Wonderland as soon as possible. However, the simple descriptions used by Ephemeral_Everlast are evocative and succeed in generating an uneasy and menacing atmosphere. As Alice becomes increasingly confused and scared, we see that a child like her cannot belong in a land devoid of order and reason. Overall, Inquisitive does an effective job of showing how sinister a world as strange and crazy as Wonderland can be.

Based On: Moana

(Plot: Two foolish young warriors enter the underworld of Lalotai in a bid to enjoy the ultimate adventure, but soon find themselves regretting this decision when they come across the monstrous giant crab Tamatoa...)

In Moana, the villainous giant crab Tamatoa is played mostly for comedy, but for many people, coming face to face with a fifty-foot tall, flesh-eating creature is no laughing matter. In Kohuru, the warriors Temana and Rahiti find out the hard way just how scary Tamatoa can be. When two impulsive youths take on a giant monster, we all know that it is not going to be a fair fight, but for viewers who primarily remember Tamatoa for singing 'Shiny' or taking a dig at The Little Mermaid, seeing how nasty he gets in Kohuru is quite a shock. The meeting between Temana and Tamatoa starts with a fast-moving fight, but as Tamatoa asserts control, the bravado of our two protagonists is replaced by uncontrollable fear, as they discover what Tamatoa is truly capable of...

The strongest aspect of this story is the way in which Tamatoa is upgraded from Disney villain to horror movie monster. He retains his hatred of Maui and his belief that humans are little more than tasty snacks, but the humour is almost entirely stripped away - Tamatoa's dialogue is acidic and vicious, as he takes his frustrations out on the two unlucky humans who try to fight him. Temana and Rahiti are also depicted effectively - they are foolish enough to deserve a harsh punishment, but sympathetic enough for their gruesome fates to be genuinely distressing.  Darkfics allow Disney villains to become far more violent and threatening, as the constraints restricting their behaviour in a family film are entirely eliminated. After reading Kohuru (or The Most Dangerous Game, a similar story from the same author) it is going to be a lot harder to regard Tamatoa as merely an eccentric, gold-obsessed nuisance...

Based On: Cinderella, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

(Plot: A collection of seven stories about Disney characters whose search for a happy ending instead leads to a world of pain and misery. These include 'The Legend of the East Kingdom', in which Cinderella's deal with the fairy godmother has disastrous side effects, 'Leashed', where Rapunzel proves unable to control the growth of her hair, and 'Egalite', where Belle becomes a victim of the French Revolution...)

Whilst all the other darkfics on this list tell a single story, Seven for a Secret contains SEVEN different tales which all ruthlessly subvert the hopeful and optimistic approach associated with the original Disney films. Instead of bright songs and comedic side characters, we are treated to scenes showing Belle being executed by revolutionaries ("Madame Guillotine had no love for happy endings."), Rapunzel getting permanently trapped by her hair and wasting away in her own filth, Aurora's kingdom being wiped out by plague, and Jasmine getting her right hand cut off. Orphan_account provides us with a selection of protagonists who are sympathetic and engaging, but they ultimately all prove unable to avoid their awful fates, with the vivid and powerful descriptions highlighting the cruelty of the stories.

The extent to which Seven for A Secret can be classified as a horror darkfic is a matter for debate. 'The Legend of the East Kingdom' (which combines Cinderella and Sleepy Hollow), 'Siren Song' (A story from Eric's perspective, where Ariel is reinterpreted as a murderous siren) and 'The Woman in White' (Where Snow White's singing has deadly effects) fit the horror genre perfectly, the other four stories are predominantly miserable rather than scary. However, they are certainly disturbing enough to qualify for this list (a story doesn't have to be horror to be considered horrifying) and the tragedies experienced by the protagonists fuel a variety of mundane fears regarding disease, violence, and the loss of control. The stories in Seven For A Secret are incredibly grim on their own, but when put together, they generate a fanfic so vicious that the it has managed to appear on a number of on-line lists recognising it as one of the nastiest Disney darkfics of all time - a feat which even Ariel's Revenge couldn't manage...

Based On: Sleeping Beauty

(Plot: Once upon a time, Prince Philip failed to save Princess Aurora and her kingdom from a curse placed on them by the wicked Maleficent. Two hundred years later, he returns to Aurora's decaying kingdom in a bid to make amends, only to find out the hard way that it is not as devoid of life as he expected...)

In most retellings of Sleeping Beauty, it's not just the titular princess who is put into an eternal slumber, but the whole of her kingdom. In The Glass Princess, this concept is developed to disturbing effect. When Prince Phillip (not named in this version) arrives at the derelict kingdom, he finds out that all the humans and animals present when the curse struck have been reduced to skeletons. JessicaJ even highlights the odious stench of the bodies, extending the oppressive atmosphere beyond the visuals. An equally creepy sight is Aurora herself, now turned into the titular glass princess, eerily pale and "as close to nothing as she can possibly be". These visuals show just how destructive the curse has been, and allow the story to resoundingly distance itself from lighter versions of Sleeping Beauty...

The Glass Princess centres on a protagonist who is already dead inside, but Phillip's complete guilt at failing to save Aurora and the kingdom gives the story a sense of direction which allows the grisly visuals to have a greater impact. The conclusion is a grim little sting in the tale, but it fits perfectly - the only way for Phillip to bring life to The Glass Princess is by paying the ultimate penalty for his initial cowardice. The Glass Princess is a gloomy and intense experience, but the excellent descriptions and creative ideas make it a compelling and rewarding read.