Sibling Forgery: There are Numerous Other Hansel & Gretel Releases
As poorly received as as "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" has been would you believe there are no fewer than four other similar titles on the market?
This weekend sees the Grimm fairytale of the witch-hunting brother-sister duo Hansel & Gretel getting a serious release into more than three thousand theaters. While it may seem to many a forced concept of obscure source material for a serious studio release, there is a rather surprising fact to go along with the curiosity. Specifically, despite witnessing very few instances of this tale recently finding its way into production, right now there are no fewer than four other versions of the sibling tale.
There are two primary factors behind this current glut. One is the common practice of the home video market angling for a fast buck by riding the creative coat tails of the major studios. The second is these notoriously frugal productions have a fiscal inspiration in that they save fees on story rights by using source material in the public domain. Here’s a look into what else you may encounter lurking in the video forest.
Hansel & Gretel
The first entrant in the wiccan-warrior catalogue came out a few weeks ago, courtesy of The Asylum. This studio has become adept at the “mock-buster” release over the years (last summer they blissfully rewrote history by delivering “Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies”). This modernized, value-ridden retelling has the teenaged kin becoming enslaved and terrorized by a witchy Dee Wallace, replete with sweets for fattening them and jolting sound-effects to compensate for the overall lack of true tension. Just to complete the hopes of currying dollars from wayward renters the studio basically uses the exact same titles for the key art as the studio version in theaters.
Hansel & Gretel: Warriors in Witchcraft
The Asylum lost their normal beachhead of releasing a disc the same week as the theatrical release they are leeching from when Lionsgate announced the street date of Jan. 22 for this title. I am a bit curious, wondering as I am who exactly would be drawn to a feature starring an actor named Boo Boo Stewart. The production does have a bit of a novelty as the titular duo is played by actual siblings; Boo Boo is joined here by his sister Fivel. However that is the extent of the interest as this is a production very light on any witchcraft. In fact the two leads are named Jonah, and Ella, and they only learn of their H & G lineage late in this affair. Most of the film involves the kids going to a boarding school which they gradually come to learn is populated by witches and warlocks, and only the climax involves any true conflict. The box art features better visual effects than the film itself, and only a muddled performance by Eric Roberts may keep you awake.
Hansel & Gretel Get Baked
Did you pick up on the ironic reference there in the title? Yep, hilarity indeed. This one is set for a brief VOD release on Feb. 19, before a limited theater run a few days later. We have here another contemporary setting for the kids, this time a quasi-horror tale, with Lara Flynn Boyle as a dope-dealing witch. She lures stoners to her home with her special herbal blend and then proceeds to consume them to maintain her youthful pallor. Trouble begins once she kidnaps Gretel’s burner boyfriend and intrigue and action ensues, where the ad copy tells us could lead to “a gruesome death – or the last high of their lives!” I’m betting on some kind of gingerbread house/munchies gag somewhere in the process.
Hansel And Gretel in 3D
This is a long-planned effort – initially announced back in 2010 -- with the combined efforts of Michael Bay’s company The Institute, and German producers Kalliope Films. There are tentative release dates for this year across foreign territories but not spot on the calendar here in the states. Despite becoming the fifth retelling of the twins’ saga at least this will distinguish itself by having the story set in the 1600s.
Based on the content and quality of these various attempts it seems that the studio release is the gem of the bunch which, looking at its critical drubbing and public apathy, is a sad commentary. Considering the tone of “They don’t get mad – they get Oven!” from that production this is a trend soon to dissipate I’m sure.
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