10 Fairy Tales That Were Way Darker Than You Realized as a Kid

Hansel and Gretel
At least the witch doesn't look so scary in this depiction of 'Hansel and Gretel.' Maybe that's because it was part of an ad for meat paste. © Bettmann/CORBIS

If you're a fan of Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic serial killer in "The Silence of the Lambs," then this German fairy tale is right up your alley. It features a villain who's equally creepy, and perhaps even more insidious -- a seemingly kindly old woman who lives in the woods in an edible gingerbread and candy house, which she uses to ensnare children so that she can kill, cook and eat them. (Though, in fairness, she at least doesn't boast of dining upon their livers with fava beans and a nice Chianti).

In the Grimm brothers' 1812 version, she decides that Hansel would be the more succulent child, and locks him up in a cage to fatten him, while starving his sister. Eventually, though, the witch decides to eat them both anyway, but is outsmarted by Gretel, who at an opportune moment, pushes her into the oven and burns her to death. By comparison, Lecter -- who at the end of "Silence" has escaped from prison -- gets off pretty easy.