BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
1. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Janus Films), 1970: The theft of a young beauty’s earrings is the impetus for the adventure in this Czech fantasy/horror film directed by Jaromil Jires. The heroine is initiated into womanhood by a brood of witches, vampires, and priests; all the while the earrings are the dark relics of her disillusioned reality and her lush dreamscapes. While recalling the pervasive image of the beautiful sleeping woman of fairy tales, this film always teeters toward the delightfully avant-garde.
2. The Bloody Chamber (Penguin Books) by Angela Carter, 1977: An absolute treasure of neo-gothic literature, this collection of fairy-tale retellings is politicized with gender bending, unabashed sexuality, and decadent prose. The titular story is a contemporary retelling of Bluebeard that dances the dark line between S&M and romantic love. You’ll also find retellings of Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Child, and Puss-and-Boots, among others. Each and every story is full of beauty and fashion relics that add a stylish gravitas to the fairy tale narrative.
3. Snow White: A Tale of Terror (Polygram), 1997: Sigourney Weaver has never looked so stunning as in this grotesquely beautiful retelling on film. While it follows the often-told tale closely, both the queen and her breathtaking Snow White rival are complicated, independent women who are always bound together by a strange mother/daughter love. The magic mirror in the film penetrates the dull walls of the family manor, its’ looming voice urging its queen to a feverish quest for youth and beauty. Every shot in this film challenges the ugly/beautiful binary so prevalent in Euro-centric fairy tales.
4. Shelly Duvall’s Fairie Tale Theatre (Showtime), 1982-1987: This campy television series is available as a box set and is full of guest appearances by celebrities such as Liza Minnelli, Mick Jagger, and Robin Williams. While it's kitsch and whimsical in aesthetic, it is never far from the eerie echoes of its' fairy tale predecessors. The lush costuming makes this series a gem, recalling our childhood days of dress-up and imagination. Every story is opened by an ethereal Shelly Duvall, who challenges gender norms and conventional ideals of beauty.
5. Fairy Tale Rituals ( Llewellyn Books) by Kenny Klein, 2010: This thoroughly researched and dazzling book by Kenny Klein examines eleven widely known fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel and The Frog Prince and offers up spells and rituals based on these narratives. Not only does this book get its’ audience to recognize the profound influence of fairy tales on popular culture, it allow us to integrate them into the everyday beauty and magick of our adult existence.
6. Mexican Jenny and Other Poems (Anhinga Press) by Barbara Brinson Curiel, 2014: Like the Carter collection, this book of poetry relays fairy tale narratives, but the poet complicates them with her intersectional feminism. Sleeping beauty is a black lipsticked chola and the red riding hood is transformed into second hand red shoes with Spanish heels, alluding to the fact that its' possessor must take up the ax of her Mexican grandmother.
The book also makes mythology out of the story of Jenny, a woman convicted of killing her abusive husband in 1913 Colorado. Grounded in the beauty of the ordinary, each of the book's poems reads like an incantation of a radical and fantastical heart.
Monique Quintana is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary blogazine, Razorhouse and the Beauty Editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She holds an MFA from CSU Fresno and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among others. She is a Pocha/Chicana identified mother, daughter, sister, lover, and english teacher from California's Central Valley.