Code Red // 1976 // 72 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 11th, 2011
The world's favorite bedtime story.
1976 was a heck of a great year. How could a year that saw the death of Chairman Mao, the election of Jimmy Carter, and the birth of your own Judge Daryl Loomis not be considered a spectacular twelve months? These great days were also accented by the heights of "porno chic," when mainstream audiences actually went out of their way to see the dirty bits and when a group of enterprising pervs put together an adult musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland. From producer Bill Osco, who hit it big previously with Flesh Gordon, this filthy version of Alice in Wonderland became one of the most successful adult films ever produced. With singing, dancing, and an extra large Mad Hatter, how could it not?
Alice (Kristine DeBell, Meatballs) is a sexy young librarian who frustrates her boyfriend with her prudish ways. When he leaves the library in a huff, Alice sits down to read an old copy of Alice in Wonderland and quickly drifts off into sleep. Suddenly, a weird looking rabbit shows up to take her to a sexual wonderland that will open her eyes to a whole new world of erotic possibilities.
Well, this is certainly an odd bird, but it's no mystery why it was so successful. The film arrived in theaters just as the lovely Kristine DeBell appeared on the cover of Playboy, and the promise of her in action must have driven men into theaters. But it wasn't the men that made the film money; men have been creeping around theaters that showed this forever. The musical comedy and the plot-forward story, though, helped bring women into the fold, and that's where the money is.
Alice in Wonderland follows its origin story fairly closely, or as closely as it can given the limits of the genre. It hits all the major points, with the Mad Hatter, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, and the Queen of Hearts all taking predictably lewd turns while everyone sings and dances with gleeful abandon. With eight full-length numbers over 70 minutes, there is considerably more music than sex, although the two are obviously combined quite a bit. It's ridiculously silly, but this is far more enjoyable than most films of this kind.
Code Red sent a screener for review and, while I like a lot of what they've done, Alice in Wonderland is not their best work. The image actually looks quite good, much better than any previous edition of the film. The brief clips of the old print that are shown on the supplemental interview definitely proves how far they have come. It's not reference quality by any means, but the colors are pretty good and there's a minimum of damage. The sound is about as good as I can expect from a single channel mix. The songs and dialog sound fine and there is very little noise. The only extra is an interview with Larry Gelman, who plays the rabbit. It's interesting enough, but far from essential. We also have a trailer for this film and the usual bank of previews for other Code Red releases, but these barely count.
Alice in Wonderland is a bizarre relic, an entirely enjoyable one at that. It's cheap and stupid, but a good, innocent bit of fun from a much less jaded time. Fans of cinematic oddities should definitely give this one a look.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated R