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Bambi Will Be A 'Monstrous Bipedal Deer' Who Stomps On People's Heads In Bambi: The Reckoning

/Film 1/24/2023 Anya Stanley
Image from Bambi (1942) © RKO Radio Pictures Image from Bambi (1942)

A stroll past the credits of filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield delivers an assortment of monsters, disasters, and delights. He's taken on the producer role in projects like "Dinosaur Hotel" (which he also wrote) and "Croc!," and has recently set his sights on your childhood faves.

His directorial debut this year puts an A.A. Milne creation in the spotlight, though not in the way you might imagine. "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" takes the beloved big-bellied bear of Milne's stories and, with the help of Pooh entering the public domain, re-imagines him and the plucky Piglet as feral beasts who launch a campaign of terror when an adult Christopher Robin returns to the Hundred Acre Wood. If you're looking for the rest of the Hundred Acre gang like Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga and little Roo, or Owl, you won't find them; Pooh and Piglet devoured them alive, and a house full of college girls (and Robin) is the next stop on the buffet line.

Such is the modus operandi for Frake-Waterfield, and the tarnishing of childhood golden idols continues with "Peter Pan: Neverland Nightmare" (which gets a February 15 theatrical release this year) date a horror feature announced alongside "Blood and Honey." Further titles either in production or completed include more kinder classics: "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Three Blind Mice," and "Easter Bunny Massacre: The Bloody Trail" are all aimed to disrupt the innocence of their respective rhymes and holiday icons. But because Frake-Waterfield never sleeps, he's teaming up again with the London-based Jagged Edge Productions and ITN Studios. 

Get ready for "Bambi: The Reckoning."

Oh Deer!

Image from The Ritual (2017) © Netflix Image from The Ritual (2017)

Hang on, what of the House of Mouse? Surely Disney would come down on any Bambi business with a swift cease-and-desist. But Disney's animated 1942 gem "Bambi" is based on Austrian writer Fleix Salten's 1923 novel "Bambi, a Life in the Woods" — a book which has been in the public domain in much of the European Union since 2016. More importantly, the American copyright of the novel expired on January 1st of 2022. The path is clear for Rhys Frake-Waterfield to take audiences on a trip to the forest, where his iteration of the wide-eyed deer has already been teased as "a vicious killing machine."

The latest issue of SFX Magazine contains a feature on "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" which reveals that after Pooh and Piglet satisfy the rumblies in their tumblies, "Bambi: The Reckoning" is up next on the slate. The director tells SFX:

"Bambi is probably the first to be filmed. We've taglined it as 'Bambi on rabies!' Have you seen 'The Ritual?' The monster in that is this weird, moose-looking thing. We were quite inspired by that. We want it to be this monstrous bipedal deer; just killing lots of people. We want Bambi to be able to stomp on people's heads!"

The weird, moose-looking thing in David Bruckner's folk horror "The Ritual" -- a tale steeped in Norse mythology -- goes by the name "Moder," an ancient Jötunn descended from trickster god Loki. Moder vaguely resembles a woodland creature, if a stag took anabolic steroids and fused a man's torso to its face. /Film voted the pagan beast among the 30 scariest horror movie monsters, making it quite the North Star for one of animation's most wholesome, doe-eyed creations. The lesson for both movies seems to be the same: stay out of the woods.

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