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Plunge Through the Looking Glass With the Scariest 'Alice' Ever

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Kristýna Kohoutová starring in Jan Švankmajer's brilliantly visceral 'Alice' (1988).

Imagine that an art house director created stop-motion animation while on copious amounts of hallucinogens of every nightmare you’ve ever had, then threw some extra-creepy animals in the mix, just because. Now you have some idea of the visceral nature of Jan Švankmajer‘s vision of Alice in Wonderland—but to believe it, you kind of have to see it.

Masterminded by the Czech multimedia artist in 1988, this extra-surreal take on the Lewis Carroll classic starts with a taxidermy rabbit cutting itself open with scissors, bleeding sawdust and biting through steel nails. And it only gets more odd from there.

Alice’s adventure begins after she follows that teeth-gnashing rabbit up a hill and through a desk drawer. (It’s best not to ask…) Later, when she becomes small, she transforms into the kind of terrifying baby doll last seen in the alternative music videos of the 1990s (see in particular: Babes in Toyland.) It is bizarre and compulsive viewing.

To explain in detail the excess of imagery, minimal dialogue and overarching sense of echoing otherworldliness present throughout this production would only spoil it. But if you must have a taste, here’s one involving a fish footman, a frog with human eyes and tongue, and a lot of smashed crockery.


At the Alamo Drafthouse, this special screening of Alice is sponsored by Amoeba Music and comes with a drag pre-show from Media Meltdown—a group that’s equal parts weird and wonderland. Expect nothing but the unexpected. —Rae Alexandra

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