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The Original Pinocchio Story Is Nothing Short Of Pure Horror

October 23, 2020 29.8k views10 items

Many of us grew up learning about the heartwarming adventures of Pinocchio through the 1940 Disney animated adaptation of Italian author Carlo Collodi's original 1883 story. The film Pinocchio tells the wholesome story of a magic marionette who wants to be a real boy, and his nose grows every time he lies, which is kind of adorable when you see it in Technicolor. The real Adventures of Pinocchio, however, reads like a horror story.

Pinocchio is not sweet, and does nothing but terrorize Geppetto throughout most of the book. The wooden boy has multiple experiences where he literally begs for his life. The original Pinocchio story and its dark plot probably would have scarred us all as children.

  • Photo: Carlo Chiostri / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Pinocchio Is Almost Turned Into Firewood At The Great Marionette Theatre

    After running away from home, Pinocchio ends up at the Great Marionette Theatre, where all the other marionettes seem to know him, even though he was just carved by Geppetto. Excited and causing a lot of commotion, the marionettes disturb the director of the theater, Fire Eater. He tells two of the other marionettes, Pulcinella and Harlequin, to bring Pinocchio to him so he can throw the little wooden boy on the fire.

    The two marionettes carry Pinocchio into the kitchen where a lamb roasts over an open fire, and Pinocchio begs for his life. Fire Eater then begins to sneeze, which is apparently a sign he feels sorry for the marionette. Harlequin whispers to Pinocchio, "Fire Eater has sneezed and this is a sign that he feels sorry for you. You are saved!" Fire Eater then attempts to put Harlequin on the fire, but Pinocchio manages to save the day. So far, this is the only nice thing Pinocchio has done.

  • Photo: Carlo Chiostri / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A Friendly Blackbird Who Tries To Help Pinocchio Is Eaten By A Cat

    On his way home, Pinocchio meets an assassin fox and cat team who try to trick him out of the five gold coins he received at the theater. As the fox and cat prod Pinocchio, a friendly little blackbird chirps, "Pinocchio, do not listen to bad advice. If you do, you'll be sorry."

    Hearing this warning, the cat eats the blackbird, "feathers and all." When Pinocchio asks why the cat did that, he casually replies that he wanted to teach the blackbird a lesson about not talking so much. The fox and cat do eventually trick Pinocchio, but get their just desserts at the end of the story, reinforcing the idea that everyone is severly punished if they don't follow the rules.

  • Photo: Carlo Chiostri / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Pinocchio Abandons Geppetto After The Woodcarver Is Swallowed By A Shark

    As in the 1940 film version of Pinocchio, Geppetto sets out on a boat to find Pinocchio, even though he's been nothing but trouble so far. Pinocchio and Geppetto manage to find each other, but Geppetto is swallowed by a giant shark.

    Although Pinocchio initially sets out to save Geppetto, he quickly becomes sidetracked by a fairy who convinces him to be more obedient. She sends him to school, and when he doesn't want to go, she says laziness is an illness that has to be cured: "If not, it will kill you in the end," the fairy warns Pinocchio. So he goes to school while Geppetto is still stuck inside the shark.

    Pinocchio "saves" Geppetto only after he, too, is swallowed by the shark, and finds Geppetto sitting at a table eating fish, which the shark has swallowed, as well. The two escape the sleeping shark only because it sleeps with its mouth open due to "asthma and heart trouble."

  • Photo: Carlo Chiostri / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Pinocchio Is Nearly Eaten By A Sea Monster After Fleeing The Police

    Pinocchio has a number of misadventures, all with some sort of cautionary warning to children, but one of the most bizarre is when he's caught in a fisherman's net and is nearly eaten. The fisherman resembles a sea monster, with green hair, skin, and beard, and thinks Pinocchio is a marionette fish.

    Even after the fisherman learns that Pinocchio can talk, he still only gives him the option of how he wants to be cooked: "Do you want to be fried in a pan, or do you prefer to be cooked with tomato sauce?" As Pinocchio is about to be dunked into boiling oil, his dog friend Alidoro snatches him from the fisherman's hands, and they barely escape.