This Children’s Movie Is More Hardcore Than ‘Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey’

Winnie the Pooh

As we all undoubtedly know, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, just the Steamboat Willie versions, are now in the public domain. And Winnie the Pooh was noticeably added a few years back, when Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey was released. But Mickey, Minnie, and Winnie aren’t the only famous Disney and kinda Disney characters (Pooh was not originally a Disney creation) available for reinterpretation. There’s one very important animal that’s been available in the public domain as long as that bear that loves honey (and blood?): Bambi. 

So why isn’t there already a Bambi horror film? The character also went into the public domain the same year as Pooh. Sure, there’s one reportedly in the works by the same folks as Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey, but there’s no demand. Is it because Bambi is already terrifying?

Yes, Bambi is terrifying and that is never, ever mentioned in the press materials for the film. The original 1942 trailer makes it seem like the animated feature is just one big love story. 

The 2011 Blu-ray trailer, ostensibly aimed at people who have already seen the classic, definitely does not mention death. This one is mostly about childhood frivolity. Thumper gets most of the lines.

The 1996 VHS trailer is similar to the 2011 version, with one voiceover line more telling than it means to be: “For a limited time you can give your children memories they’ll have forever.”

The 1996 VHS trailer could not have been more correct. There are certain films that never, ever go away. Bambi is definitely one of those films. But not for reasons Disney intended. 

Early in the Quentin Tarantino 2022 book Cinema Speculation (a must-read for any fan and still a really great book if you hate the director and love cinema) we find out what the five-year-old Quentin saw in the theater.

In the chapter “Little Q Watching Big Movies” he writes:

“Was there any movie back then (1972) I couldn’t handle? Yes. Bambi. Bambi getting lost from his mother, her being shot by the hunter and horrifying forest fire upset me like nothing else I saw in the movies. It wasn’t until 1974 when I saw Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left that anything came close. Now those sequences in Bambi have been fucking up children for decades but I’m pretty sure I know the reason why Bambi affected me so traumatically.

Of course, Bambi losing his mother hits every kid right where they live. But I think even more than the psychological dynamics of the story, it was the shock that the film turned so unexpectedly tragic that hit me so hard. The TV spots really didn’t emphasize the film’s true nature. Instead, they concentrated on the cute Bambi and Thumper antics. Nothing prepared me for the harrowing turn of events to come. I remember my little brain screaming the 5-year-old version of, ‘What the fuck is happening?!?’ If I had been more prepared for what I was going to see, I think I might have processed it differently.” 

Tarantino makes it clear that the only film that dramatically traumatized the dude at an extremely formative time was Bambi. This is a guy who saw hardcore horror, blaxploitation, and bloody westerns in the same year. There are 947 films mentioned in Cinema Speculation. Bambi is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. 

A new version of Bambi will not be able to reach the pinnacle of pain that is Bambi yelling out, “We made it! We made it, mother!” before he realizes his mother did not make it. A few seconds later, when our hero is yelling out, “Mother, where are you?” are the nails in the pain coffin. It’s the kind of cinema that stays with you. It’s the kind of cinema that traumatized Tarantino and probably millions of other kids. 

But Bambi would absolutely work as a hardcore revenge thriller. Hell, SNL already showed how to do it in a 2015 episode with The Rock



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