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  Alice in Wonderland Wonderlust
Year: 1976
Director: Bud Townsend
Stars: Kristine DeBell, Bucky Searles, Gila Havana, Ron Nelson, Alan Novak, J.P. Paradine, Larry Gelman, Bree Anthony, Tony Richards, Angel Barrett, Nancy Dare, Bruce Finklesteen, Juliet Graham, Terry Hall, Astrid Hayase, John Lawrence, Jason Williams
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Sex, Trash, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alice (Kristine DeBell) is a meek librarian who is being courted by William (Ron Nelson), but she doesn't feel ready for a relationship, much to his exasperation. She turns him down when he invites her out to a dance that evening, so he gives her a piece of his mind, informing her it's time she grew up and storming out after she makes excuses about having work to do. Once he has left, Alice reflects that she does need to take a look at her life, and just as she reaches the conclusion that she should take the bull by the horns, a white rabbit appears behind her, then escapes through the looking glass - with Alice in hot pursuit.

Sometimes the cinema of the seventies is like a different world, as can be seen by the adult version of Alice in Wonderland. Adapted into a dirty-minded fable from Lewis Carroll's wholesome and surreal classic by actor, composer and writer Bucky Searles, who also played Humpty Dumpty here, bizarrely some of the purity of the original informed this production. Maybe it's the fact that it's filmed in some springtime forests of the great outdoors (in a Canadian provincial park), maybe it's the outlandish costumes, but here the intent seemed to be to have fun with the concept.

Or maybe it was the fact that this was a musical? You read that right, every so often the cast break out into song, and not dodgy ditties despite the subject matter, more like show tunes, a crossing of genres that would be unthinkable today. Can you imagine porn purchasers these days being prepared to sit through ten minutes of song (not to mention plot set up) before the first hint of nudity? This is a comedy, too, which makes it all the stranger that the music is treated so seriously - all right, they're not exactly great songs, but they do have full orchestral backing, no wacka-wacka guitar here, and some thought has gone into how they will sound.

This is not really an expensive film, but someone has splashed out on the props and accoutrements so that the familiar characters are easy enough to identify. Rest assured, the White Rabbit does not engage in any of the sex scenes, but the Mad Hatter (Alan Novak) does (or his body double does, at any rate), and here the Queen of Hearts does not cry "Off with her head!", no, she wants Alice to give her some head. That's about the level of the humour, but there are a few less vulgar gags, as when Alice asks for a towel only to be told a hotel has stolen it, or Humpty describes himself as a shell of a man now he's had a great fall.

Plotwise, and these were the days where such films had plots, Alice jumps through the looking glass and finds herself in a house in Wonderland, but cannot fit through the door to get out. So she takes a swig from a bottle with a "Drink Me" label on it, then shrinks - although her clothes do not, giving former Playboy Playmate DeBell a chance to get into skimpier apparel. It may all be about following the Rabbit, but after a while Alice grows to realise that she is confident to be her own woman and do what comes naturally, that is, lose her virginity to the man who cares about her - although he is a petulant sort judging by that first scene, maybe she was better off waiiting for someone better to come along. All in all, it's not exactly hilarious, the songs are middling, but as a sex-obsessed curio it's something we probably won't see the likes of again.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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