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Dreamchild (1985)

February 23rd, 2011 by unkle lancifer · 19 Comments

Children’s’ heads are usually force fed saccharine gruel by funnel. The process resembles teaching ducks to grow up to be foie gras. That’s why I’ve always loved ALICE IN WONDERLAND. For a book aimed at malleable brains it is deliciously dark and strange. Imagine WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS writing for Highlights Magazine in a psychedelic beanie. Alice’s encounters mirror a universal part of adolescence when one is trying to decipher their new surroundings and every question is met with nonsensical answers. What child can’t relate to the feeling of being indoctrinated into a world of seemingly random (forks on the left, spoons on the right) protocol? ALICE does more than grab the reader by the hand and tour them through a colorful landscape, it slyly teaches them how to spot the absurdity in their own world as well.

For fans of WONDERLAND, DREAMCHILD is really a must see. It focuses on the twilight of the woman who once inspired the tale as she travels to New York for a celebration of the work and life of its author. Some of the movie is as dainty as a doily, which makes its multiple plunges into near ELM STREET territory all the more disturbing. It’s like having tea with DAME JUDI DENCH and then she suddenly leans into reveal, “I’m tripping my balls off.”

Who is to say how accurate any of the flashbacks are but as the eighty-year old Alice Hargreaves is jolted with lightening blast recollections of her youth, we get a glimpse into her vaguely creepy relationship with the man she theoretically inspired. As played by IAN HOLM (ALIEN, THE SWEET HEREAFTER) Reverend Charles L. Dobson (also known as Lewis Carroll) is at turns off-putting and sympathetic. Plagued by a speech impediment and awkward social skills, one wonders if his fascination with the young quizzical child was merely a coveting of the normalcy she had to look forward to in life. Much speculation is made about the true catalyst behind CARROLL’s work, but here he is presented as a sort of shadowy Jaberwocky himself until elderly Alice comes to terms with her memories and is able to separate herself from her more famous fictional identity.

Whatever. As much as I love my homie HOLM there is literally nothing in this movie that is not utterly and completely upstaged by the fucking incredible creations by JIM HENSON’s creature shop. Don’t get me wrong, there is a very sweet, finely done drama going on here (written by DENNIS POTTER no less) but if you’re a brat like me you’ll only pretend to care whether the old lady gets her act together before kicking the bucket just so you can get a glimpse of the incredibly monstrous and borderline hideous denizens of wonderland that KRUEGER-stalk her psyche. If you want to learn about the real Alice Hargreave, go to the library or better yet Google the lady. Instead, I’m going to stare at these incredible images from DREAMCHILD

NOTE: If you want to check out this barrel of awesome get thee to Netflix Streaming. It has never been released on DVD and the VHS looks like crap. I like this movie a great deal but I have no option but to remove seventy hundred groovy points for not inviting the Chesire Cat to the party.

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Tags: Giant Turtles · I Have No Idea What This Is · Tykes in Trouble




19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ally_mcfeelNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    You can’t mention Dreamchild without pointing out that MRS. VINCENT PRICE starred in it! Let’s be real – Coral Browne could wipe the floor with Judi Dench. I agree – wonderful, little film this one was. I’ve read Ms. Browne’s biography and apparently she paid her own way on trips to promote the film.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Ally_mcfeel,

    Wha!?! I had no idea that was V. Price’s wife! I swear I learn something new here every day. This really is such a good movie and the reconciliation with the past ending is truly moving. The only drawback is (besides no chesire cat) that you will have the “Will you, Won’t you” song stuck in your head for days after.

  • 3 ally_mcfeelNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Uncle Lancifer, More than glad to drop some Price-related knowledge. In case you were unaware, the two originally met on the set of Theater of Blood, a highly enjoyable film in which he killed his future wife with a rigged hair-dryer. But you probably knew that!

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Ally,

    Now you got me reading up on Coral! She played a “female heavenly voice” in Xanadu and I didn’t know that was her in “The Killing of Sister George”!

    I love this quote of hers that I found on Imdb…

    “I could never understand whet Godfrey Tearle saw in Jill Bennett, until I saw her at the Caprice eating corn-on-the-cob.”

    That biography has got to be pretty good!

  • 5 ally_mcfeelNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

    There are two biographies that came out the past several years. One is by Rose Collis and I would definitely recommend it over the more abbreviated , almost research-paper-like book compiled by Barbara Angell. However, some of the ripest information is contained in the biography of Vincent Price written by his daughter Victoria, who did not get along very well with her “wicked” stepmother, Ms. Browne. It has quite a few inaccuracies but is still a fun read as you get a feel for her spirit and what a terror she must have been to a teenage, somewhat sheltered American girl. 🙂 And yes, she is fabulous in “The Killing of Sister George!”

  • 6 David FullamNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Without doubt, the most depressing film I have ever seen. This is the type of thing that more people need to see.

  • 7 RATSAWGODNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Actually, it’s also avalible on DVD here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dreamchild-Coral-Browne-Peter-Gallagher/dp/B002Y26UMO/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I1S8FSFLDQRRBR&colid=2YENL3M2DM967

  • 8 spacecowboyNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    This alone makes netflix worth the monthly fee. Been waiting years to catch this movie. After seeing this, SPELLBINDER, and SCREAMTIME, I think I’m in love with netflix instant streaming. And yes, the creature designs by Henson are stunning. I’ll take these creatures over CGI any day!

    btw Unkle…I love the phrase “KRUEGER-stalk.” I’ll be stealing that.

  • 9 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    David Fullam,

    Yay for depression! I’d love for more people to see this one too and I’d love for folks to expand their idea of what “horror” is. If I saw that version of the mad hatter staring at me I would be terrified.

    Ratsawgod,

    You’re right! That’s one of those titles that Amazon creates by order. I have not tried that feature out yet.

    Spaceboy,

    Really, there is no way CGI can compete with such creations! They are all true works of art in my book….

  • 10 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I finally broke down and got a Netflix account. I haven’t tried the streaming as I don’t have a WII and I don’t want to watch movies at my computer. I like to watch while laying in bed a cuddling with my dog.

    But man, love my Netflix. I started out with George Burn’s Oh God! movies. Soon as I watch Oh God! You Devil! the next on my list is Freaks.

    As for this – Man, Lewis Carroll freaks me out as it is. Him and Barrie. Two of the boys he based the book on went on to kill themselves and there’s a theory that old JM might have also killed his older brother. Those Victorian childrens’ authors were some really twisted folks.

  • 11 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    JJR,

    I just don’t know what to make of the real Lewis Carroll. While reading up on him for this I learned that many people are challenging the “Carroll myth” these days and that maybe he wasn’t as screwy as he has been made out to be. I even read that he wrote in a letter that Alice was NOT based on Alice Hargreaves at all. Anyway, there was so much conflicting info that I just gave up and decided to focus on Jim Henson. Nobody has any bad stories about Jim Henson do they? (If you do, I don’t want to know about it!)

    J.M Barrie you can tell is a weirdo just by looking at a picture of him. (I kid)

    What about A.A Milne? please tell me that A.A Milne was not insane. Winnie the pooh was my favorite of all growing up because it came with a map and everybody had their own house.

  • 12 David FullamNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    What else Jim Henson could have achieved had he not died? Shame we will never know.

  • 13 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    DF,

    I was so sad when Henson died. Thank God his family keeps his tradition alive.

    Now you are making me want to watch Dark Crystal and Labyrinth back to back!

  • 14 Jami JoAnne RussellNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Far as I know Milne wasn’t psycho or a possible pedophile. Though some say that Christopher Robin was schizophrenic. *rolls her eyes*

  • 15 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    JJR, Ha! I just found this…

    “Did you know Winnie The Pooh was based on psychological problems?

    pooh= eating disorder
    piglet=genralized anxity disorder
    eyore=major depresion
    rabbit=ocd
    tigger=adhd
    Christopher Robin=schizophrenia”

    I guess I just figured out the real reason this book was my favorite!

  • 16 Joanna BoeseNo Gravatar // Feb 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    As Kermit put it in “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson”, “More Muppet stuff to come because that’s how the boss would’ve wanted it.” 🙂

    The little girl in it, however, was also in another sorta disturbing fairy tale movie, which was “Little Red Riding Hood”, one of Golan Globus’s “Cannon Movie Tales” which had Craig T. Nelson trying to sing. Which is terrifying enough.

  • 17 online shopping irelandNo Gravatar // Feb 24, 2011 at 3:31 am

    When i was young and i have seen this i was really scared in few moments :d

  • 18 spacecowboyNo Gravatar // Feb 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Oh I used to love me some Cannon Movie Tales haha. I thought Alice looked familiar! Wow, now I need to go watch those again.

  • 19 Bill PetreeNo Gravatar // Feb 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Carroll/Dodgson was most definitely a pedo. I saw on a website or in a magazine photos he took of young girls naked from the waist up, in poses more fitting of a centerfold than a ten year old. It seems they were found in his effects ages ago, but they sat on them for fear of ruining his rep.

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