It’s all about timing: if Vince Collins had made his trippy animation Malice in Wonderland in the sixties or seventies then it would have probably been a success, especially with freaks and acidheads. That it was made in the 1980s, when your friendly neighborhood independent cinemas were closing and a new puritanism had sneaked into political discourse perhaps explain why Collins’ short animation was booed off the screen by audiences for offensively “exploiting women.”
Malice in Wonderland (1982) is an imaginative and richly Freudian retelling of Lewis Carroll’s famous tale in which Alice repeatedly disappears up (or down) various orifices.
At the time Collins was a struggling animator who had relocated from Fort Lauderdale to California to make short animations. He was best known for his award-winning animation Euphoria, which many had thought was about (or had been inspired by) LSD but was mainly the animator experimenting with visuals. Though Collins has admitted he made his psychedelic drug films in the 1970s and his blue movies in the 1980s. Malice in Wonderland is Collins’ blue movie.
More people have watched this startling animation on the Internet than all the people who saw it on its first release. Where it was once booed, now people are more likely to ask, “Dude, what the fuck is that shit?”
Malice in Wonderland may still be controversial and disturbing to some, but I think it’s a spellbinding tour de force from an unfettered imagination—though maybe not best watched when you’re actually taking LSD.
With thanks to Laughton Sebastian Melmoth.