Winnie-the-Pooh, the cuddly and wise bear, is not the first character most would think to cast as the murderous villain of a slasher movie. So it was indeed curious when images and footage from the R-rated horror movie with the ominous title "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" went viral online in 2022.
After the copyrights to Alan Alexander Milne's classic children's books "Winnie-the-Pooh" expired on January 1, 2022, the character became part of the public domain. As a result, since then, anyone can use and depict the iconic figure as they wish.
The first images from "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" appeared in last May last year. The idea of a slasher movie starring the yellow furry animal and his best pal, Piglet — also feral and bloodthirsty — was met with mixed reactions on the web. Some found Pooh's mutation into a killer funny, while others called for the film to be banned.
Despite bad reviews, the film has become a box office hit. The low-budget production, made with just $100,000 (€94,165), was originally planned for a streaming-only release and just a single day in cinemas. But following an initial release in Mexico on January 27 and in the US and different countries on February 15, it has already earned over $3 million at the global box offices, according to Box Office Mojo.
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Director Frake-Waterfield gets death threats
In the film, an adult Christopher Robin returns to the Hundred Acre Wood, where his childhood friends Winnie-the-Pooh and others live. Pooh and Piglet, however, have become murderous creatures. The difference between the horror Pooh and the original is clear: Instead of a red T-shirt, he wears a lumberjack shirt, and wears a Pooh mask and rubber gloves.
The film's director, Rhys Frake-Waterfield, said he has even received death threats from Winnie-the-Pooh fans. But at the same time, the British director told Associated Press he was completely overwhelmed by the film's surprise success. "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" isn't the first horror film in which seemingly innocuous characters commit gruesome murders.
In Ivan Reitman's popular 1984 scary comedy "Ghostbusters," the chaotic hero squad's adversary, an ancient malevolent god named Gozer, attacks New York in the form of a giant marshmallow man, a fictional advertising figure for a candy popular in the United States. Although the ghost hunters' rival is constantly grinning, he's still hellbent on destroying everything in his path.
Marshmallow men and furry animals
"Ghostbusters," unlike "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey," had a large budget of $31 million (€29 million). The film was extremely successful and grossed almost 10 times that amount worldwide and is one of the most successful films of all time.
Several sequels followed, most recently "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," with another part scheduled for release in 2023. "Gremlins," also released in 1984, is a horror comedy by director Joe Dante in which an inventor named Randall Peltzer buys a small furry animal named Gizmo from a mysterious dealer in Chinatown to give to his son Billy.
It's a mogwai, a Chinese demon, but harmless in this case. However, when the cute fellow gets wet, numerous vicious devils burst out of him, which subsequently turn into reptilian monsters and terrorize the idyllic small town where the Peltzers live. The film grossed $148 million in the US alone. The sequel "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" followed in 1990.
The slasher film "Child's Play," about the murderous doll Chucky, is pure horror flick material, unlike "Gremlins" or "Ghostbusters." Despite its toy antagonist, it's not kid stuff.
Although it wasn't an immediate hit when it was released in 1988, over time it became a cult classic among horror fans and was even expanded into a film series. In the original film, the ghost of serial killer Charles Lee Ray is transported into a child's doll thanks to a voodoo ritual.
Whether murderous or not, Winnie-the-Pooh is unlikely to be the last character moving into public domain that will be used in unexpected ways. Other famous characters that can soon be used by the public include Mickey Mouse in his original form in "Steamboat Willie" (1928), Bugs Bunny, Batman and Superman.
The director of "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey," Rhys Frake-Waterfield, is also looking forward to this: "There's going to be so many different and cool unique iterations coming off that. I might do one."
Author Philipp Jedicke
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