Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” isn’t the first incarnation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story to appear in theaters, and it certainly won’t be the last. Watching the “Beetlejuice” and “Corpse Bride” director take a stab at one of the most surreal oddities in children’s literature is a bit like handing pyromaniac a match and the keys to a fireworks warehouse. Burton has more than 150 years of history for film goers to judge his adaptation of “Alice” against. Here are five productions, movies and otherwise, that have shown what unsettling undertones lurk in Carroll’s tale.
Directed by Bud Townsend
Roger Ebert called this oddity “fairly mild, as X movies go.” What we have here is the most famous erotic musical to claim “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” as its inspiration. The skin flick hurdled the bar for bizarre by turning Tweedledum and Tweedledee into an uncomfortably close brother and sister pairing, and giving the Queen in Wonderland a fixation with sex-oriented punishment.
Created by American McGee
Lewis Carroll likely never imagined what an “Alice” story would look like on the “Quake III” video game engine. This computer game aged Alice into her late-teen years — much like Burton’s own reimagining — and put players in charge of her as a suicidal, institutionalized victim of her sanity-crippling experiences. It definitely wasn’t designed for the young, traditional, Pokémon-playing crowd. But then, the best re-interpretations of “Alice” have never been for the kiddies.
Directed by Jan Švankmajer
Using absolutely unnerving stop motion techniques, this brain-rattler clings like mad to the more hallucinagenic and surreal elements of the story. In fact, this is probably the best version of “Alice in Wonderland” to grab if you really want to feel like you’re going insane along with the title character. Don’t believe me? The Caterpillar is a sock with glass eyes. Get it now?
By ADV Films
What’s more disturbing than a large-headed cat with no mouth? That’s easy: A large-headed cat who doesn’t look like she has mouth, but suddenly sprouts one to act out a children’s book that was likely composed under the influence of narcotics. Powerful hallucinogenic narcotics. “Hello Kitty” hurts my brain at the best of times; mix in Lewis Carroll’s tripped-out word, and gray goo starts leaking from my ears.
Directed by Marilyn Manson
Manson has promised that this un-produced project in which he himself stars as Lewis Carroll, with actress Lily Cole playing his daughter, will be scary. It’s something that is on his calendar for the near future, meaning that if it happens “Phantasmagoria” could give Burton a run for his money. Or at least ride along on his wave of near-guaranteed success. Manson says his movie will take place outside of the book, exploring Carroll’s real life. Given the somewhat unsavory rumors that circulate about the author, Manson’s is the more likely Carroll project to give you nightmares when it comes out.