Snow White: A Tale of Terror

Snow White: A Tale of Terror

DVD cover for Snow White: A Tale Of Terror
Genre Horror
Based on "Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm
Screenplay by Tom Szollosi
Deborah Serra
Directed by Michael Cohn
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Sam Neill
Monica Keena
Gil Bellows
David Conrad
Theme music composer John Ottman
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Tom Engelman
Cinematography Mike Southon
Editor(s) Ian Crafford
Running time 100 minutes
Production company(s) Universal Pictures
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Interscope Communications
Budget $26 million
Original network Showtime
Original release
  • July 18, 1997 (1997-07-18) (Greece)
  • August 24, 1997 (1997-08-24) (United States)

Snow White: A Tale of Terror is a 1997 American dark fantasy horror television film based on the fairy tale "Snow White". Also known as Snow White in the Black Forest and The Grimm Brothers' Snow White,[1] it was directed by Michael Cohn and stars Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill and Monica Keena. The original music score was composed by John Ottman. The film was marketed with the tagline "The fairy tale is over".

Plot summary

Lady Lilliana Hoffman dies in a carriage accident in the woods, caused by wolves that attack both the horses and the coachman. Her husband Fredric, at his dying wife's urging, reluctantly performs a caesarean section to save their unborn daughter. Years later, the young Lilli Hoffman, named after her deceased mother, plays mischievously on the grounds of the Hoffman estate. Fredric remarries a noble woman named Lady Claudia. Despite Claudia's kindness to her, Lilli is resentful and bitter towards her new stepmother. On the Hoffmans' wedding night, Lilli runs from her nursemaid and hides under Claudia's bed. However the nursemaid is mysteriously killed by an unseen force when she looks into Claudia's mirror.

Years later, Lilli grows into a beautiful young woman. On the night of a ball, Claudia now pregnant with Lilli's half brother, gives her a gown to wear at the ball that belonged to her as a child. Lilli rebuffs the gift and rebels by wearing one of her own mother's gowns to the ball. Her father is startled, then pleased at the evocation of her mother. As the two dance, a hurt and jealous Claudia, goes into an early labor and delivers a stillborn boy. Doctor Gutenberg informs Fredric that although Claudia is perfectly healthy she can never have another child. Distraught, she is soon corrupted by the power of the mirror.

The next morning, a remorseful and sympathetic Lilli attempts to make peace with Claudia who appears to forgive her. Dr Gutenberg proposes to Lilli which she happily accepts and he goes to ask for her father's consent. While waiting for him, she is confronted by Gustav who tries to kill her as per Claudia's orders but she escapes deep into the woods. Gustav then resorts to killing a boar instead and presents its heart to Claudia, who orders him to place the rest of the remains in the stew pot, intended for her and Fredric's dinner. However, when she coughs up the boar's blood she realises that Gustav has failed her. Enraged at his betrayal, she bewitches him causing him to have horrific hallucinations and he commits suicide. In the meantime, Lilli is found by seven rough, combative miners, led by Will, who grudgingly take her under their wing. Claudia makes another attempt on Lilli's life by using witchcraft to crush her in the mines but she is rescued by Will. Doctor Gutenberg returns to the castle to find it almost abandoned save for Claudia who in an attempt to get rid of him, seduces and pleads with him to find Lilli.

Claudia again uses witchcraft to lure Lilli to her death by summoning a gale to knock down the trees and crush her to death. Lilli is almost crushed when she tries to save Laurence, but she is pulled to safety by Will. One of the miners spots a raven that had been following them and kills it after realizing it was bewitched. Under the mirror's influence, Claudia decides to deal with Lilli later and decides to resurrect her dead son by stealing Fredric's seed and bathing the child in his blood. She then makes her way to his bedchamber and rapes him in his weakened state. In the forest, while the four remaining miners mourn their losses, Lilli notices Will's scars, inflicted by Crusaders. Having fallen in love, the two share a kiss. Claudia disguises herself as an old and ugly hag and turns her brother's eviscerated heart into a poisoned apple. Transported to Lilli's refuge, she deceives her into accepting the apple, which puts her into a locked-in syndrome. Will finds Lilli seemingly dead on the ground from a bite of the apple. Dr. Gutenberg, eventually finds them and sadly pronounces her dead. The miners place her in a glass coffin and prepare to bury her. Will notices that her eyes have opened and pulls Lilli's body from the coffin, and shakes her as he commands her to breathe, dislodging the piece of apple that had been stuck in her throat. In the castle, Claudia takes Fredric to the chapel, wherein the castle staff appear mindlessly worshipping, ties him to a crucifix and suspends it upside down and prepares to exsanguinate him in a crude Satanic ritual.

Gutenberg takes Lilli back to the castle to stop Claudia and rescue Fredric, followed by Will. On arriving, they discover that the entire household has been placed under spell, locking them in a trance like state. They find a weak and delirious Fredric who perceives Lilli as a ghost and Will takes him outside to safety. Claudia kills Gutenberg by pushing him out a window. Lilli then proceeds to confront her stepmother. She finds Claudia cradling her newly revived but weak baby. The two engage in a fight resulting in Lilli accidentally setting the room alight. Claudia becomes distracted by her son's distress allowing Lilli to grab a dagger and stabs the mirror wounding both Claudia and her reflection. Lilli flees to join Will and a delirious Fredric outside while Claudia burns to death. Her father finally comes to and is overjoyed to see her again.


Critical reception

The film received mixed to positive reviews, with a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but was praised for staying on the dark formula that was once present in fairy tales.


Sigourney Weaver's critically acclaimed performance earned her an Emmy Award nomination as well as a Screen Actors Guild nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a TV Movie. The film also earned two Emmy nominations for Makeup and Costume Design.[2]

Main cast

Actor Role
Sigourney Weaver Lady Claudia Hoffman
Sam Neill Lord Fredric Hoffman
Monica Keena Lilliana (Lily) Hoffman
Gil Bellows Will
David Conrad Dr. Peter Gutenberg
Miroslav Taborsky Gustav
Brian Glover Lawrence
Andrew Tiernan Scar
Anthony Brophy Rolf
Chris Bauer Conrad
Frances Cuka Nannau
Bryan Pringle Father Gilbert
Taryn Davis Little Lilliana (Lily) Hoffman
Joanna Roth Lady Lilliana Hoffman
John Edward Allen Bart
Dale Wyatt Maidservant Ilsa


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