Traditional fairy tales are so steeped in blood it's astonishing that children didn't all grow up to become deranged in days gone by. Take, for example, the popular Japanese fable "Shita-kiri Suzume" (literally, "Tongue-Cut Sparrow"), which tells the tale of a kind old man, his avaricious wife and an injured sparrow. Some versions of the fable end with the greedy woman being tortured to death by demons, serpents and skeletons.

Horror is by no means limited to Japanese fables — it's a universal revulsion. The original versions of fairy tales that were penned by the Brothers Grimm are full of gore. I was fortunate enough to see some of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm's stories in London last month as part of an immersive production based on a retelling by British writer Philip Pullman. The show included an adaptation of "The Goose Girl," which ended with a woman — women typically bear the brunt of the punishment in fairy tales, I'm afraid — being thrown into a barrel that has spikes hammered into it. And, just in case that wasn't gruesome enough, the barrel was then rolled down a hill.

Titled "Grimm Tales," the production was staged in a crumbling old warehouse on the south bank of the Thames, and took place across several floors. Each space was decorated with spooky things such as creepy doll's houses and broken clocks.