Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer



This week on Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs:
Before now, my experience with the story of Pinocchio was limited to three adaptations. One is the Roberto Benigni film, which I don’t remember much about other than the feeling that it was a lot darker and weirder than I was ready for. My surprise was probably because the only other version I’d seen up to then had been Walt Disney’s typically charming, but watered-down one. This past Christmas I bought a collection of Christmas specials on DVD that included Rankin Bass’ stop-motion Pinocchio’s Christmas, which, story-wise, was surprisingly more like Benigni than Disney. While all of these present fairly dark stories (especially in comparison to Disney’s traditional output), none of them prepared me for Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer.

And I’m not just talking about the vampire-hunting part; I’m talking about the three-page summary that catches you up on Carlo Collodi’s original tale. Jiminy Cricket – I know that’s not his real name, but I can’t stop calling him that – dies in his first encounter with the puppet-boy, but returns to haunt him as a ghost. Pinocchio isn’t just tricked by the fox and the cat, he’s hung from a tree by them (but not before he bites off the cat’s hand). He’s imprisoned, tied up outside a doghouse, gets his feet burned off, and of course there’s the stuff where he’s turned into an ass and gets swallowed by a giant fish. Basically, his life sucks. But not as much as it sucks (get it?) after Collodi’s story ends.

Higgins and Jensen apologetically pick up where Collodi left off, begging the dead author that “if he ever rolls over in his grave and rises, bloodthirsty, that we be spared.” While it’s true that their graphic novel may not be faithful to the tone of Collodi’s and they fill it with fun retcons (offering, for example, an explanation for all the talking animals), it’s also true that their story could have been what happened next. If, you know, a coven of vampires had moved into town, killed Geppetto and a whole bunch of other people, and Pinocchio grew a thirst for vengeance.
Read the rest at Robot 6.
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