There’s a new live-action version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid coming. R&B singer Halle Bailey has been confirmed as the new Ariel, and there are rumours that Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay (a.k.a. that kid from Room) are ‘in talks’ to star alongside her.
Other than that, little is known about the remake of the 1989 animated original.
And to be honest, that makes us nervous. Because while the Disney movie is a classic boy-meets-fishgirl romance, if the writers stick closer to the original source material we’re all in for a downright disturbing viewing experience.
Written in 1836 by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid fairy tale has less seashell bikinis, friendly Jamaican crustaceans and true love, and more… torture, monsters and suicide. (Although, special mention to the serial-killer vibes of Ariel’s ‘collection’ of shiny, sharp objects in the Disney version.)
For the sake of desensitising ourselves, just in case, here are the most unsettling aspects of the OG story.
Dead mermaids turn into foam.
The Little Mermaid’s nanna tells us that while merpeople might have a life-expectancy of 300ish years, once they cark it, they evaporate into seafoam. You know, that scunge that’s stirred up by waves.
Also, they have no soul. So there’s that.
The sea witch lives in a bone house in a forest of demonic plant-people.
We know her as Ursula, the poor, unfortunate soul whose electric-blue eyeshadow/red-lip combo is almost as hideous as her personality. In the original tale, though, she’s just ‘the sea witch’; a sorceress who lives in a house made of bones. Human bones. Human bones from sailors who died tragically at sea and sunk to the bottom, allowing her to collect their remains and turn them into scaffolding.
Oh, and you’ll like this bit. Her skeleton house sits in the middle of a forest of trees and flowers called “polypi”: “…half animals and half plants; they looked like serpents with a hundred heads growing out of the ground. The branches were long slimy arms, with fingers like flexible worms, moving limb after limb from the root to the top.”
These devil plants also collect bones, and they strangle mermaids to death.