Go With The Flow – Bud Townsend’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ (1976)

26 Jul

Following on from Al Adamson’s sexploitation-musical Cinderella 2000 , I gave Bud Townsend’s 1976 X-Rated musical Alice In Wonderland a viewing, with it proving more entertaining than the former! Originally released as an X certificate feature, the film was picked up by 20th Century Fox and re-released the following year with an R-rating and three minutes of cuts. Upon its VHS release, the three minutes of hardcore footage were reinstated and the DVD disc menu gives you the option to watch either this ‘XXX’ version or the cut ‘X’ version. Of course I was going to choose the ‘XXX’ version!

The picture begins with a screen message telling the audience that the feature being seen is a ‘brand new motion picture’ with ‘never before seen scenes’. The supposed speculation that extra footage had been shot was correct and ‘the Producer has finally relented. The public should be allowed to see this motion picture as it was intended to be shown’. In other words, the cut footage has been put back in. After a credit song that could rival the disco-esque title tunes of Cinderella 2000 and Norman J. Warren’s Spaced Out (1979), we are introduced to our titular Alice, Playboy Pin-Up and cover girl Kristine DeBell. The situation that Alice is in is your very basic and typical porno/sexploitation relationship scenario. She has a potential love interest, William, but she spurns his advances deciding working as a librarian is more important and time-consuming. Cue William’s response of ‘You’re body’s all grown up but still the mind of a little girl… too bad you’re missing so much… You’ve got all the equipment, you just don’t know how to put it to work’.

Kristen DeBell promoting the film on the front cover for the April 1976 issue of Playboy

 After being left by William, she falls asleep reading a copy of Alice In Wonderland and suddenly finds herself being taken on a journey of sexual discovery. This is when it starts to get a little bizarre, with cue cards announcing sexual landmarks that Alice is about to overcome (‘Alice makes new friends and gets a lickin”, ‘Alice learns you can’t keep a good man down’) and the odd moment that’s meant to be erotic but feels awkward. Kudos to the filmmakers though for being the first adaptation of Alice that I’ve seen where she drinks the ‘Drink Me’ potion and her clothes don’t shrink with her. Then again, it is a porno so getting her nude in the first ten minutes is pretty much a ‘must’…

The film is full of a cast that Lewis Carroll would be jealous of. Wonderland’s animal creatures are far more disturbing than the woodland friends of Cinderella’s in Cinderella 2000, channeling the school-play-gone-bad look. They also play host to the most awkward sexual moment in a porno I’ve seen so far, asking Alice to come back and let them play with her when her breasts are full of milk. Not really what I want to hear when I’m trying to get off… The Mad Hatter is typically off the wall with a penis that’s just a big to match (‘That’s not the size of my hat, that’s the size of my thingymajig!’). Much to my surprise, Humpty Dumpty makes an appearance (I had no idea he featured in Carroll’s sequel Through The Looking Glass) with a problem that could easily be solved in this decade with a certain blue pill. The Queen of Hearts is a sexual predator out to sleep with whoever she wants, with a wardrobe that could quite possibly be worn by Lady Gaga in the next few weeks. My favourite interpretation would be that of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, two incredibly randy teenagers who are stuck to each others bodies like glue. They also get the prize of the best interchange between two characters; ‘I love you like a brother’, ‘Aren’t you forgetting I am your brother’.

To sum up, if you like dated porno chic and pornography that genuinely tries to have some kind of narrative then this is a must. Far more musically accomplished than other musical sexploitation pictures that came out in the same decade, the film certainly does have some unique charm about it despite being full of clichés (Alice and William do end up together in the end, having the most ‘romanticized’ candle-lit sex with each other I have seen yet…). Kristen DeBell is delightful as Alice and tries to play her with more to her character than just a two-dimensional adult movie prop. She continued to act in TV movies and series but her career never really took off to stellar heights which is a shame as she seemed to have some actual talent (and no, I’m not talking of that kind of talent…). If it’s sex you’re after than the ‘XXX’ cut has its far share, from the somewhat touching moments between Tweedledum and Tweedledee to the random, like The White Rabbit taking the euphemism for cunnilingus of ‘eating out’ to the next level by literally eating out a woman’s vagina with a spoon. Now, if that doesn’t sell it to you somehow, I’m not sure what else will.

 

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