The Horror Honeys: Witch Month: Battle of the 'Beauties!'

Witch Month: Battle of the 'Beauties!'

A Revenge Honey 'Witch Month' Retrospective with Linnie

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Maleficent (2014)
Sleeping Beauty (2014)

Like most of the Horror Honeys, I grew up on Disney animation, and often found myself relating more with the villains than was probably appropriate for a five-year-old. This was never more true than in Sleeping Beauty, in which a powerful sorceress, portrayed as a villain, always seemed to be missing a satisfying backstory. This backstory would finally arrive fifty-five years later in Robert Stromberg's Maleficent, and it was more devastating than fans of the Disney Villain could have ever conjured on their best day. But of course, what would a Disney blockbuster in the 2010s be without a companion "mockbuster" from The Asylum. For those who don't know, mockbusters are low-budget films created by this niche studio that hope to capitalize on the ignorance of people who aren't terribly good with names, and just watch anything that looks vaguely familiar (Atlantic Rim, American Warships, Grimm Avengers, San Andreas Quake, Jack the Giant Killer, Transmorphers: Fall of Man, etc. etc. ad nauseum).

The horse gets it.
So of course, in 2014, The Asylum released Sleeping Beauty, a movie that is notable only because genre star Casper Van Dien directed it, and cast his whole damn family in the thing, for better or worse (worse... it's for worse... I promise).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, my darlings. First, we will talk about the two movies that don't make me want to die. And then, we will all stab ourselves in the eyeballs together.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Based on the classic fairy tale and taking elements from the Italian and German versions, Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty was such a state-of-the-art creation, it almost bankrupted the studio. What has always made this film fascinating to me is that it is hardly about Princess Aurora at all; in fact, she has so few lines, you'd be forgiven for only remembering her for her classic love song, "Once Upon a Dream." No; this Sleeping Beauty is about magic and fairies, and an all-powerful witch named Maleficent. 

Horror Honey squad goals.
Maleficent was gorgeously animated, elegant and frightening, with a voice like velvet evil. No matter how many times I watch Sleeping Beauty, with its Tchaikovsky-inspired score and endlessly quotable script, I am always drawn to the wonder that is Maleficent. "The mistress of all evil" stands as one of the most remarkable Disney witches, and is without question, more memorable than the Princess herself. (But on the flip side, there will always be a certain joy in watching fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather bicker endlessly as they care for Briar Rose in the forest).

But that dragon tho...
Revenge Honey Witch Rating: 5 birthday curses out of 5

Maleficent (2014)

When I first heard that Angelina Jolie would be taking on the role of Maleficent in a Disney-produced backstory, I was elated. I couldn't think of anyone more suited to the role, and finally getting to hear the tale of how Maleficent became the witch we met in Sleeping Beauty, well... that was damn exciting. What I didn't expect was that the story would be equal parts lovely and deeply upsetting. When we meet Maleficent, she is a beautiful winged fairy, caring for all the creatures in the magical Moors. As a girl, she becomes enamored of a young human named Stefan, and she eventually falls in love. But when Stefan betrays her in a power grab to become King, and violently steals her wings, Maleficent is left devastated and broken, which leads us into the story we all know.

I wanna be her.
Except Maleficent takes the story a step further, creating a connection between Maleficent and Aurora, in which the two become bonded through their love of magic, and their independent natures. Linda Woolverton's script is another example of the new Disney tradition of showing children that "true love" doesn't have to mean romantic love (also exemplified in Frozen), and it's truly wonderful. 

Every scene in this movie is like a painting...
Maleficent is also just a beautiful movie. The CGI is used well, the effects are lovely, and the makeup by master artist Rick Baker is stunning. I was also utterly blown away by the bravery of Disney in portraying Maleficent's history, specifically her abuse and victimization at the hands of Stefan. While young children may not understand the metaphor (and I hope they don't, honestly), watching Maleficent have her wings stolen by a man who cared only for himself will resonate deeply with those who suffered a more literal experience. Maleficent is a movie for children, but it's also a film that will linger with adults long after the credits roll.

Revenge Honey Witch Rating: 5 fairy kingdoms out of 5

You can read Supernatural Honey Suzanne's full review of Maleficent here!

Sleeping Beauty (2014)
Casper Van Dien & Catherine Oxenberg are in the
movie for a total of MAYBE 10 minutes. Just... FYI.
And now this piece of crap. I have never fully understood who the audience is for the majority of the films that come out of The Asylum, and Casper Van Dien's Sleeping Beauty is a prime example of that. This mockbuster answer to Maleficent doesn't seem to have a single clue who its audience is, jolting with whiplash-manic speed from PG fairy tale to spine-ripping horror film, with absolutely no grey area. Directed by Van Dien (which explains why his wife and every one of his children stars), nothing about this movie makes sense, from the diverging and incoherent storylines to the dirt-faced zombies and unfathomable CGI creatures.

I watched the movie and I STILL don't know what this thing is supposed to be.
Yeah, I said zombies. The second act of Van Dien's Sleeping Beauty features an army of the undead under witch Queen Tambria's (Olivia D'Abo... why hath thou forsaken me) control. And when I say zombies, I mean a bunch of extras that someone threw handful of dirt at, then told to growl. Because that's literally it. Couple that with atrocious acting (only two performers are moderately watchable, one of which is Game of Thrones' Finn Jones, who discovers he's a secret prince, Spaceballs-style) and laughable costumes/sets, and Sleeping Beauty was obviously created to fill a 2pm Sunday slot on SyFy. 

I'm not sure what's more wooden... The acting or the horrible set pieces.
When it comes to The Asylum, their lone worth is in offering something to laugh at or enjoy while getting hammered with like-minded friends. Sleeping Beauty isn't even fit for that, in that it's not good enough to enjoy, nor is it bad enough to actively laugh at. It's just... bad.

Revenge Honey Witch Rating: 0 dirt zombies out of 5

Bonus Suggestion: After Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney Studios saw a huge decline in prominence that would last until 1984, and the beginning of what is known as the "Disney Renaissance," in 1989. If you are interested in Disney Animation, check out the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, a must-see for any Disney fan!

Which is YOUR favorite version of Sleeping Beauty?
Tell Linnie on Twitter: @linnieloowho