— by CAM SMITH —
Almost every adult I’ve ever encountered carries with them a handful of emotionally-scarring cinematic images which were forever burnt into their psyche in their impressionable childhood years. Frightening images of indelibly scary creatures which inspired white-faced terror upon initial exposure and, in time, led to sweat-inducing nightmares and — in some cases — incurable neurotic phobias.
Personally, I spent many of my own sensitive pre-pubescent nights gritting my teeth as the exploding beetles from “The Dark Crystal,” “The Ewok Adventure’s” man-eating giant Gorax and bug-eyed Large Marge from “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” ominously invaded my dreams. Even more traumatizing was the unforgettably bloody moment from “Jaws,” wherein the killer shark chomps down on Robert Shaw — a scene which forever killed my enthusiasm for water-based recreation.
However, few of these filmic boogeymen held a candle to Maleficent, the sinister sorceress, voiced by the wonderfully chilling Eleanor Audley, in Disney’s 1959 Goth-tinged animated classic “Sleeping Beauty.” From her very first scene, magically appearing in the kingdom of King Stefan to curse his newborn daughter Aurora, I had to fight hard not to turn away in dread from the eerily, cackling fiend. Even after multiple repeat watches, Maleficent’s ghastly effect never diminished and she remained a reliably anxiety-churning source of goose-pimples and nausea. Such was the impact of her unforgettably unnerving entrance.
Now, Ain’t It Cool News is reporting that the wicked evildoer will have a second chance to forever disturb a new generation of innocents, as she is apparently being eyed to headline her own major motion picture titled, natch, “Maleficent.”
The live-action film, which would be directed by the beyond perfectly-chosen Tim Burton — an artist brilliantly gifted at crafting iconic creepy imagery — would tell the “Sleeping Beauty” story from the villainess’ POV. Certainly, an interesting creative choice which would allow the auteur to really embrace the darkness of the tale and spin an exhilarating and cheerfully terrifying all-ages yarn.
With Burton and Johnny Depp’s previously-announced “Dark Shadows” adaptation currently mired in creative difficulties, “Maleficent” may take its place as the director’s next project after he wraps up his duties on Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
But who best to cast as the black-and-purple-draped shape-changer? Sigourney Weaver, Helena Bonham Carter or Tilda Swinton could be a lot of fun — and are definitely capable of playing ice-veined harpies — but I suspect that the choice might be a less obvious one. Cate Blanchett or Angelina Jolie would definitely work, but I think it’d be more fun to see a sunnier actress like Kate Winslet or Rachel Weisz get in touch with their big, bad ‘ol dark side.
How about you guys? Who’d you like to see terrorize a pretty blonde princess for two hours? Send us your feedback in our comments section and make your proud voices heard.
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.