Snow White : A Tale of Terror
Lilliana Hoffman dies in a carriage accident in the woods, caused by wolves that attack both the horses and the coachman. Her husband Frederick, at his dying wife’s urging, reluctantly performs a caesarean section to save their unborn daughter. Years later, the young Lilli Hoffman—the Snow White of the title, although she is never addressed or referred to as such in the film—plays mischievously on the grounds of the Hoffman estate. Lilli greets her new stepmother, Lady Claudia, somewhat reluctantly. Lady Claudia gives the reticent Lilli a Rottweiler puppy. Lilli is pleased, but runs off with the puppy without thanking her.
On the Hoffmans’ wedding night, Lilli spoils the communal blessing of the marriage bed by dashing the contents of her small ceremonial cup at Claudia. As Lilli grows into womanhood, Claudia keeps her dressed in girls’ clothing. Their relationship has not gotten any better, though Claudia does try her best to be civil with Lilli. Lilli continues to be rebellious and cruel to her stepmother’s feelings.
On the night of a ball, Claudia gives Lilli a dress that belonged to her as a child and tells Lilli that it is now her turn to wear it as her stepdaughter. Lilli rebels by wearing one of her own mother’s gowns to the ball. Her father is startled, then pleased at Lilli’s evocation of her mother; as the two dance, Claudia, in a paroxysm of jealousy, goes into an early labor and delivers a stillborn boy. The doctor informs Frederick that Claudia can never have another child. Claudia, looking haggard from her ordeal, stares into her wardrobe-like mirror, where an ideally beautiful reflection replaces her real one and demands revenge against Lilli for doing this to her.
Claudia orders her brother Gustav to kill and eviscerate Lilli in the woods. When Lilli escapes, Gustav kills a pig and presents its organs to Claudia, who keeps what she believes to be Lilli’s heart. Claudia orders Gustav to place the rest of the remains in the stew pot, then coos over the deliciousness of the stew as she eats and urges Frederick to join her. When Claudia learns the truth from the mirror, she drives a terrified Gustav to suicide.
In the meantime, the quite alive Lilli is found by seven rough, combative miners — outcast by civil or ecclesiastical authority — who grudgingly give her shelter. When one of them threatens her with rape, their unofficial leader, Will, stops him. Meanwhile Claudia discovers that Lilli is still alive and uses her black magic to kill her, instead killing two of the miners, all the while keeping an injured Frederick infirm and afflicting the estate’s staff with the Black Death. Claudia then convinces Lilli’s fiancé, Dr. Peter Gutenberg, to continue searching for Lilli.
As the four remaining miners mourn their losses, Lilli touches Will’s scars, inflicted by Crusaders, and the two share a lover’s kiss. Claudia disguises herself as an old woman and turns her brother’s eviscerated heart into a poisoned apple. Transported to Lilli’s refuge, the disguised Claudia speaks kindly to her and gives her the apple, which puts her into a locked-in syndrome that makes her appear dead. Will finds Lilli seemingly dead on the ground from a bite of the apple. Dr. Gutenberg, the last person still searching for Lilli, arrives and pronounces her dead. Seeing her eyes appear to open through her mosaic glass coffin during her burial, Will leaps into the grave, pulls Lilli’s body from the coffin, and shakes her as he commands her to breathe, causing the piece of apple lodged in her throat to fall out so that she wakes.
Gutenberg takes Lilli back to the mansion to destroy Claudia; Will follows and joins them to help. Lilli’s grown dog attacks Will; Lilli counterattacks with her torch, and they escape. On finding her father, Lilli charges Will with getting him safely outside. Claudia kills Gutenberg, and Lilli — rather gratuitously armed with a crossbow — confronts Claudia. Claudia gloats, clutching her newly revived, not fully formed baby boy; disappears; then reappears to attack Lilli, smashing her into mirrors and deliberately cutting her face with one of the shards. Scrambling for safely, Lilli knocks over a burning brazier. When the fire threatens the baby, Claudia is distracted; Lilli finds a knife, and the evil mirror cries out to warn Claudia. Realizing the source of Claudia’s strength and weakness, Lilli plunges the knife into the mirror. Claudia then burns to death. Lilli joins Will and a delirious Frederick, who finally recognizes her.