Curious Alice — The 1971 Anti-Drug Movie Based on Alice in Wonderland That Made Drugs Look Like Fun

The Rea­gan pres­i­den­cy was prob­a­bly the gold­en age of anti-drug mes­sag­ing. America’s school kids were told that a brain was like an egg and drugs were like a fry­ing pan. The First Lady told America’s school kids sim­ply to “Just Say No.” The mes­sage was stu­pe­fy­ing­ly sim­ple. Drugs, like Com­mu­nism and tax­es, are bad.

Dur­ing the ear­ly 1970s, how­ev­er, that anti-drug mes­sage was much more con­fused. Take for exam­ple Curi­ous Alice, a visu­al­ly stun­ning, deeply odd movie about the per­ils of drug abuse that makes the stuff look like a lot of fun. Cre­at­ed by the Nation­al Insti­tute of Men­tal Health in 1971, the film shows young Alice read­ing Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Won­der­land in a sun­ny dap­pled mead­ow before nod­ding off. She soon finds her­self plung­ing down the rab­bit hole and in a won­der­land … of drugs. The King of Hearts is hawk­ing hero­in. The Mad Hat­ter is trip­ping balls on LSD. The hookah-smok­ing Cater­pil­lar is stoned out of his gourd. The Dor­mouse is in a bar­bi­tu­rate-induced stu­por and the March Hare, who looks like the Trix Bunny’s ne’er-do-well broth­er, is a fid­get­ing tweak­er. “You ough­ta have some pep pills! Uppers!” he exclaims. “Amphet­a­mines! Speed! You feel super good.”

The movie was report­ed­ly intend­ed for eight year-olds. While it’s unlike­ly that your aver­age third grad­er is going to absorb Alice’s mor­al­iz­ing about acid, they will almost cer­tain­ly respond to the film’s trip­py, Mon­ty Pythonesque ani­ma­tion. The ani­ma­tors clear­ly had a blast mak­ing this movie, but their efforts didn’t exact­ly trans­late into an effec­tive mes­sage. After the movie came out, the Nation­al Coor­di­nat­ing Coun­cil on Drug Edu­ca­tion slammed the movie, call­ing it con­fus­ing and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

As an adult, how­ev­er, the movie is a lot of fun. So check it out above. And if you live in either Col­orado or Wash­ing­ton, feel free to enjoy the movie in a state that it is prob­a­bly best appre­ci­at­ed.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Reefer Mad­ness, 1936′s Most Unin­ten­tion­al­ly Hilar­i­ous “Anti-Drug” Exploita­tion Film, Free Online

Artist Draws Nine Por­traits on LSD Dur­ing 1950s Research Exper­i­ment

Alice in Won­der­land: The Orig­i­nal 1903 Film Adap­ta­tion

See The Orig­i­nal Alice In Won­der­land Man­u­script, Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed By Lewis Car­roll (1864)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Martin Cohen says:

    Who played Alice?

    Also, her dress was sur­pris­ing­ly short.

  • Sir Marky says:

    Man, that was far out!

  • CEH in NJ says:

    Images and how we view images have changed sig­nif­i­cant­ly over time, as expo­sure to images has changed. Remem­ber this film was pro­duced pri­or to the video games and inter­net. To a child of the 1970’s (e.g. myself), the dis­joint pre­sen­ta­tion and car­toon over­lay tech­niques were dis­ori­ent­ing and vague­ly dis­turb­ing, leav­ing my class silent and uneasy when reel end­ed. We were very hap­py to be excused for recess.

    P.S. The dress she was wear­ing was fash­ion­able school dress for the time. It was the age of the mini-skirt–they sold mini-skirts for girls with match­ing ruf­fled panties then. Iron­i­cal­ly, many school dress codes for­bade girls from wear­ing shorts or pants, but this sort of loli-dress was con­sid­ered accept­able. Even­tu­al­ly schools start­ed to allow girls to wear culottes — shorts that looked liked skirts –but it was a long strug­gle to get the codes changed.

  • Jodi says:

    Who is the lit­tle girl that played Curi­ous Alice ?

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.