Raise your hand if you like it when older people tell you the horrible truth behind a beloved hallmark of childhood, thus totally ruining it for you. Okay, this movie’s for you.
This is the Jim Henson-involving fantasy (sort of) film from the 80’s that you probably don’t know about. I think I know why. Watching this movie is kind of like paying to visit your grandmother in the special care facility.
I don’t know how much of the film is accurate, but apparently there was a real Alice who inspired Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carrol). By the time we meet her, she’s in her 80’s and has grown into a very strange old lady. She’s well aware that she hasn’t got long, and is starting to lose her mind. She has hallucinations about the Wonderland characters and thankfully she does not do it often.
There is no whimsy here; these are the creepiest creatures to come out of the Muppet factory. Try to make it through the tea party scene without physically shrinking away from the screen.
There seems to be a good reason why Alice is so messed up. According to this movie, Charles Dodgson… erm… really liked children. Now, we don’t see anything particularly blatant, and the film isn’t sensationalistic, but what we do see is still really unsettling to watch. So, Jim Henson fans, only watch this one if you are hard core. Seriously.
Gonna take a lot of “Kingdom Hearts” to wash this off, I tell ya.
The Best Parts:
2 minutes in – AHHH!?!
14 minutes in – Perv…
31 minutes in – Well, alrighty. So far we have learned that Alice was a repressed, morbid recluse and that Lewis Carrol was something of a pedophile. Thank you, “Dreamchild”!
42 minutes in – Um, I’ll let some other “Matrix” fangirl tackle this.
45 minutes in – I don’t know. That Tom Petty video might still win. Maybe.
51 minutes in – Wow. What an a-hole.
56 minutes in – Check out life before video games.
1 hour in – Woah, Lucy the Doormat just showed an emotion!
1 hour, 3 minutes in – Draw your own conclusions, I guess.
1 hour, 9 minutes in – Lucy the Doormat finally grows a pair.
1 hour, 22 minutes in – Check out life WAY before video games.
1 hour, 30 minutes in – How uncomfortable does this conclusion make you feel?
Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“Don’t say ‘don’t’!” – Some miniature elitist snot I wanted to hit.
“Sitting still is good for little girls.” – Alice’s mom, who I also wanted to hit.
“Well, at least the people there (in America) speak a form of English. Even with a sort of rubbery paste in their mouths, it’s called chewing gum.” – adult Alice
Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Press-types have always needed to get a clue.
* – Old British ladies don’t know much about daily life in America.
* – Old people should never be left alone. EVER.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? Memorably scary puppets.
Good Soundtrack? No.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? Yeah, I guess.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? Terrifying as the characters are, the Creature Shop is at the top of it’s game here.
Drinking Game Potential? I don’t think you’re going to want to be drunk during this.
Head Movie Potential? God no. As a matter of fact, I can’t help but feel like watching this movie is exactly what taking acid for the first time and having the trip go horribly wrong must be like.
I did not enjoy this movie, let’s make that clear. But I do appreciate the work that went into it. I’ll give it a Jordan wearing a damned terrifying March Hare costume.
Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment presents a Pennies from Heaven Limited Film made in 1985 in association with Cannon and MGM/UA home entertainment. Written by Dennis Potter and directed by Gavin Millar. Produced by Rick McCallum and Kenneth Trodd. Special effects by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
Coral Browne, Ian Holm, Peter Gallagher, Nicola Cowper, Amelia Shankley, and a lot of memorably scary puppets.