You may not be surprised to learn that 1976's X rated Alice in Wonderland is in some ways unfaithful to its source material. In fact, I suspect the makers of this film never read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass. The movie doesn't even get the title of the book right in the opening credits and misspells Lewis Carroll's name;
And yet it's still closer to the spirit of the books than the Tim Burton movie in that it ridicules convention and hierarchy rather than celebrating both. And it's actually an enjoyable film for the most part.
In his positive review for the film, Roger Ebert gives a lot of credit for the film's success to its star, Kristine DeBell, and he's right. She gives a good performance, uninhibited not just in terms of what she's willing to do sexually. She plays an Alice in her early twenties, a late bloomer who's never even masturbated. Her adventure in Wonderland consists of the people and creatures giving her a crash course on sexuality.
There are some music numbers that, while not exactly Steven Sondheim, aren't bad and DeBell can actually sing. Her solo number at the beginning about a second chance at growing up is particularly good.
Once she's in Wonderland, instead of meeting the mouse and the dodo and the other creatures in the pool of tears, she meets some dancers in spandex and fur and they have a song about imagination that feels like something right out of a kids movie except Alice is wearing only a handkerchief that keeps coming open in the middle while she dances.
Instead of a caucus race to dry off, the dancers lick her dry, which at first Alice resists. One of them asks if it feels bad, she says no, just strange. "Good?" asks one, which Alice considers before conceding, yes, it does. She has a similar conversation with the King of Hearts later and this is the general tone of Alice's sexual education. My favourite was a scene where a stone talks her into masturbating, telling her she must be alone since stones can't talk.
The movie loses its way with the introduction of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, a man and woman in this film who have a pretty mundane, if explicit, 70s glow sex scene. The movie seems to run out of pluck and energy at times and the end of the movie feels a lot sloppier than the beginning as actors frequently change costumes between shots. But I did love the card guard uniforms.
At only just over an hour, the movie's a nice, sexy little bit of fun.
Here's a slightly better shot of a bullfrog I got to-day;