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Nightmare Fuel / Into the Woods

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The better to eat you with!!!

Theater

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  • The Giantess. She has a loud, booming voice that's amped up to make any theater shake. And the Witch certainly wasn't kidding around when she explained that humans are like insects to a giant; the Giantess is big enough to kill anyone and anything, accidentally or not, as if they were mere ants on the sidewalk. And the worst part? It's heavily implied that she killed and destroyed entire villages in her rampage!
    • Whenever you hear her quaking footsteps, be prepared. Someone is about to die one way or another.
    • The Central Park production took a very unique direction that really ramps up the nightmare factor. While the Giantess' voice is amplified as loudly as usual, she rarely rises to a shout. She has the occasional outburst, but far more chilling are the lines where her voice drops to a menacing half whisper, fury and contempt clearly boiling under the surface of her subdued tone.
  • And let's not forget the the poor characters that ended up facing her wrath:
    • First, there's the Narrator. He was merely moving the story along and commenting on how the characters' "happy endings" hadn't prepared them for an even bigger force. That is, until he's dragged into the story and unwillingly sacrificed to the Giantess.
      • In the special 2012 production in Central Park the part was played by a young boy who screamed as such when being given to the giant, in the end the heroes sacrificed a child!
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    • Then there's Rapunzel, the poor girl who was driven insane by a life of solitude (which is Nightmare Fuel on its own). She meets her end when she runs into the Giantess's path and is subsequently crushed (depending on the production, this was either an accident or an act of suicide).
    • Perhaps the most unsettling demise of them all would be the Baker's Wife's. The final conversation she has with her husband is an argument, along with some very foreboding words ("Will only a giant's foot stop your arguing?!"). Afterwards she (unwillingly) cheats on him with Cinderella's Prince, and, in a cruel twist of fate, ends up in the path of the Giantess (like Rapunzel, her death also varies depending on the production. In the original Broadway show, she gets crushed by a tree, in the 2002 revival, she's stepped on by the Giantess, and in the 2014 movie, she falls off a cliff). Special mention goes to the revival, in which the staging of her death is especially eerie. We see the Giantess's shadow slowly stomp towards her, and as soon as her foot comes down on her, the stage goes to black as we hear her blood-curdling scream, followed by a beat of complete silence.
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  • A more minor case, but the death of Jack's mother. A cruel subversion of the Tap on the Head trope, the Steward stops her from antagonizing the Giantess by smacking her upside the head with his cane...and then the Baker discovers, to his great horror, that her head is bleeding...
  • The Wolf costume in the original London production, as pictured above. It's terrifying.
  • The Witch's fate at the end of "Last Midnight". The original show simply had her sink into the ground in a veil of smoke. However, a few subsequent productions managed to amp it Up to Eleven. In the 2002 revival, the Witch slowly begins to transform back into an old crone after she throws away the beans. In the outdoor productions, her mother rises from the ground, grabs her, and pulls her down into the earth.
  • The Wolf provides some hardcore Adult Fear during "Hello, Little Girl". Anyone who is familiar with the original fairy tale should know that the Wolf is meant to represent sexual predators, and the musical has no trouble retaining this metaphor. Oh, and just look at the Wolf from the original Broadway show. If the realistic wolf mask doesn't creep you out, his large penis sure will!
  • The fate of Cinderella's step-family. At the end, they share their moral, "When going to hide, know how to get there. And how to get back. And eat first." Simply put, they got lost in the woods and starved to death.
  • The scene where the ghosts of all the deceased characters come out to share their final words is made even more haunting in the 2002 revival. It starts out with some unsettling piano music as Jack's Mother eerily shares her moral, with the Steward (her killer) sharing his moral right after her ("The greater the good, the harder the blow"). Also, the Mysterious Man's line, "Every knot was once straight rope", is now given to the Narrator, giving it an entirely new meaning.
  • Both of the outdoor productions contain a particularly disturbing take on "Witch's Lament": after Rapunzel gets trampled by the Giantess, the mourning Witch tries to cradle one of her twins in her arms, only for it to turn to dust while its head falls clean off. Both of the babies had died and rotted away because Rapunzel had neglected them for so long!
  • In most productions, the Witch sings "Last Midnight," her big finale, to the Baker, Cinderella, Jack, and Little Red, and gradually gets louder and angrier as she forces them to confront their responsibility. But the 2002 Broadway revival did things a little differently: as the quartet argues in "Your Fault," the Witch silently moves over to the Baker's son, picks him up, and sings the entire song as a horrific lullaby. Sondheim even changed the lyrics of the bridge to reflect this new staging: the Witch plans to steal the baby away and isolate him from the world, just as she did with Rapunzel, to keep him from being corrupted. The entire effect is extremely unsettling; tellingly, this was the version they chose to use in the outdoor revivals.
    • The 2002 revival is especially creepy because the characters keep trying to take the baby back from the Witch, only for her to effortlessly move away whenever they get close.

Film

  • The scene where the Witch startles the Baker. It's very sudden, almost like a Jump Scare.
  • After the Baker takes Red Riding Hood's cape by force, she responds with a bloodcurdling scream. Compare that to the 1991 recording with the Broadway cast, where Red Riding Hood lets out an over-the-top bawl.
  • The movie manages to tone down the sexual tension between the Wolf and Little Red... but the fact that Red is played by a young girl rather than an older teenager or adult doesn't make things any better.
    • It also doesn't help that while most of the Wolf's interactions with Red Riding Hood are Played for Laughs, it's so blatantly an allusion to a child predator going after a target that he all but has a van to lure her into. He even goes as far as to offer her candy, at one point!
    • An early draft of the movie's script describes the Wolf as a sexy man with a snout, a tail, and a whole lot of chest hair. He would even transform into a real wolf right before he howls at the end.
    • This Wolf is played by none other than Johnny Depp, who earlier on did the center role of another Sondheim musical-turned-movie. So he's undoubtedly suited for the role.
  • The scene in which Rapunzel and her Prince are reunited is pretty creepy, especially since the stage production has it Played for Laughs. It's dark, it takes place in a swamp, and it opens with Rapunzel curled up alone and gently singing to herself while the blinded Prince rides slumped over on his horse, clearly in bad shape.
  • Cinderella's stepmother cutting up her daughters' feet is made more disturbing by focusing on the stepsisters' faces as their feet get the chop. Even so, it's more funny than scary.
    • When it's time for Lucinda to have her foot cut, Florinda shoves a handkerchief into her mouth to muffle her screams. It's also pretty danged unpleasant watching the scenes after, when they are sent off with the prince. Both are clearly in immense pain and Lucinda doesn't even make it past the door before she collapses.
  • Special mention goes to the death of the Baker's Wife. A complete silence in the forest's birdsong heralds the Giantess' approach as the ground begins to shake ominously. The Baker's Wife desperately tries to figure out which direction the danger is coming from, scrambling to the edge of a cliff to avoid the falling trees. She gets back on her feet for a moment, tries to regain her composure... before another quake throws her off balance and, presumably, over the edge. The worst part? A close up of her hand trying and failing to grab a nearby tree branch, and her terrified gasp being the last thing we hear before a moment of dead silence.
  • The movie manages to make the Witch's dramatic exit in "Last Midnight" even more chilling: she lets out a distorted scream as the ground begins to swallow her up, eventually creating a giant pit of tar in her place. We don't know whether she was killed or if she simply disappeared, but it was frightening to watch nonetheless.

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