If you aren’t up to date on your public domain news, A.A. Milne’s 1926 children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh left the realm of copyright and is now free to interpretation and adaptation since January of last year. This essentially means anyone can create their own stories revolving around the famous bear and his friends, as long as they don’t contain anything iconic that Disney is responsible for, like Pooh’s red shirt, or characters who appeared in follow-up stories from Milne. Sorry Tigger, we still got another year in copyright jail for you. So with one of the most iconic children’s characters ever now usable by anyone, it was only a matter of time until some came along and did the obvious with this; trying to ruin your childhood.
Having classic cartoon characters in darker, mature stories is not a new trend. Ideas and fanart of this theme have been floating around for decades at this point. Hang around on the internet for enough time, and you’re sure to find drawings or animations of Mario getting high on mushrooms or Scooby-Doo and the gang hunting real monsters. There’s a certain sick attraction to seeing a character we’ve come to associate with simpler times and blissful ignorance, and adding a mature coat of paint seems to help us grapple with our own aging and maturing. Sometimes this kind of idea can work, helping to modernize a classic character while giving fan service to an older audience that may have grown up with these stories. Other times, it’s nothing deeper than a cheap attempt to garner nostalgia points with the simplistic idea of “What if X, but adult?”. Any guess which of those Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey falls into?
Truthfully this is a film I probably would have skipped initially, but because this film generated a ton of online hype after the public domain announcement, I decided to give it a go and see what they could do with the IP. The answer? Not much.
Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is exactly what you’d expect on face value. A cheaply made slasher horror film featuring grotesque versions of beloved characters that does nothing new, interesting, or good for that matter. It’s one of those films you’d find at the bottom of Tubi or Shutter, not in an actual theater. But I was lucky enough to see it on a big screen, in all of it’s bloody, stupid glory.
The story starts out familiar enough, explaining human boy Christopher Robin befriending a group of talking animals in 100 Acre Woods. Eventually Christopher grows up and leaves for college, leaving the animals to fend for themselves. The animals start to grow hungry in the winter without Chris bringing them food, and in desperation, they decide to eat Eeyore. This traumatizes them, driving them crazy and psychotic. Years pass, and an unsuspecting group of girls on a getaway trip inadvertently stumble into the twisted sight of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, who are now hulking murderers ready to spill some blood.
Really there’s nothing more to it than that. It plays out pretty much exactly as you’d expect with little to no identity beyond its borrowed IP. The acting is the porn-level quality you’d expect, relying on pretty girls for eye candy while being unable to express any believable emotion. I know we aren’t supposed to take movies like this seriously, but there should be some sense of weight to what’s happening. I should feel like the characters are at least actually scared or sad, but the actors unfortunately don’t have the strength or talent to pull that off. They have no discernible character traits beyond cliches, like slutty girl or girl with glasses. Two of them look so similar that I had to keep trying to figure out who was who the entire time. The film also fails to establish any reason to invest in them, shoehorning in a stalker backstory for one of the girls that does nothing and goes nowhere. The girls don’t feel like they’re friends and aren’t likable or unlikable enough to make me give a shit about them being killed. The script doesn’t give them much to work with though, opting for incredibly generic dialogue and story beats. Pointless scenes are padded in to even come close to a theatrical runtime, doing absolutely nothing for the story. Like one of the girls stops at a creepy gas station and it’s supposed to set you on edge for things to come, but literally nothing happens. Like at all. They don’t even do the old “creepy gas station clerk warns the teens of going into the woods” schtick. The clerk just says hi…and then she leaves. Why is this here?
Whatever, who cares about characters right? It’s a slasher after all, we’re here for the kills. Well, Blood and Honey is home to plenty of gory moments like…a girl getting loosely choked to death with a chain, or a woman getting her face eaten mostly off screen. Now, to the film’s credit, there are some decent, cheesy gore effects that are expected from such a low budget, but these kills are just so boring. A girl’s head gets crushed with a car, another with a sledgehammer. You know, Piglet’s signature sledgehammer. Pooh literally seems to karate chop a guy’s throat open. Why? Why not even try to do anything remotely creative with these characters? Why not drown someone in honey or something that at least feels related to these characters. The movie basically just makes Pooh and Piglet two guys in masks. It’s just such a boring route to take.
I also have to mention how terrible the editing and camera work can be here. Scenes cut off at really un-impactful times, while darkness clouds so much of our vision. And not in a scary way either, it just makes the whole thing confusing to watch. I think the film tried to imply that Pooh could control a swarm of bees, but it’s never addressed in the story and it’s too dark to even see if that’s what’s happening. The audio mixing is also atrocious, as I could barely understand what anyone was saying throughout most of the film. If I couldn’t hear the dialogue in a loud movie theater, I have no clue how you’re supposed to hear this at home on a smaller screen. Then there’s also some really random use of what looked like CGI, like when a girl’s head gets crushed by a car her head seems to digitally squish. Very jarring but also very funny.
Can I give this film some positives? Sure. The masks used for Pooh and Piglet are fine, more so Pooh’s. There’s some actual mouth movements that make it seem like less of a mask, even if it’s incredibly clear it is. There’s also maybe one or two decent shots in here, filmed with what seems like a much higher quality camera. And yeah, it is good for a few laughs at how bad it is, but making bad movies for the sake of being bad isn’t entirely something to be proud of.
I feel bad picking on a film that was made for less than a million dollars, but there’s so much proof out there that money can’t always buy creativity. There’s just nothing special to this film in terms of its story, writing, characters, violence, or technicals. It’s capitalizing on a beloved IP and using it as an excuse to make something you’ve already seen before. Take the Winnie the Pooh elements out of here, and you wouldn’t give this film a second thought. It lacks the charm to make it a cult classic, and I can’t really justify rushing out to see it unless you’re stumbling out of a bar, blitzed off your ass and want to have a good, intoxicated laugh. But buckle, we’re sure to get a lot more of these kinds of films in the future. Steamboat Willy is coming up on its public domain date, and god help what the people are going to do with that mouse.
Bloody Honey Pot
Ruining childhood sure does work up a thirst. For this cocktail, I’ve decided to take Pooh’s favorite snack, a pot full of honey, and give it a bit of an adult twist. The Bloody Honey Pot is a savory cocktail with a little bit of heat, built with a mixture of scotch, turmeric, hot sauce and some additional seasonings. These ingredients give the drink a ton of complexity, balancing sweet, savory, smokey and spicy all in one glass! Of course, we still need a murderous addition to the cocktail, so I’ve opted to use red-dyed honey to simulate blood drips around the rim of the glass. I put the honey on the inside to minimize stickiness, so feel free to do what works best for you!
- 2oz scotch
- 1oz lemon juice
- 1oz honey syrup
- 1oz turmeric juice
- 1 drop hot sauce
- 1 drop Worcestershire sauce
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- Rim: Red honey
- Before making the drink, mix a small amount of honey with red food dye, then drip it down the inside of a glass (preferably a stemless wine glass).
- Add ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
- Strain into prepared glass over ice.