Posts Tagged ‘Alice What’s The Matter?’

Alice’s Adaptations In Wonderland

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

God bless Tim Burton. For being utterly predictable. While he has worked in a number of different genres, (heartfelt outsider biopic, gorgeous Hammer pastiche, and terrible terrible remake), most of his die hard fans would prefer to see him making creepy cute fairy tales for goth kids. Not surprisingly seeing as he excels at it. Batman Returns, for example, while being a pretty bad Batman movie, is actually a great Tim Burton movie.

With the appearance of images from his forthcoming Alice in Wonderland, specifically Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, looking for all the world like Jervis Tetch from a long lost Batman & Robin subplot, it seems like he is back in his comfort zone. For all the talk of how Wonderland has been “Burtonized” it looks to be a fairly traditional adaptation, with a plummy voiced young vixen pouting her way through scenes that borrow liberally from Tenniel and the better known elements of the sequel (although not any of the trequels), whilst running into Very Famous People, semi recognisable under layers of make up/prosthetics/animation/over the top acting.

Burton's Alice

Of course an entire book can be written on the various interpretations of Alice (and at least one already has), and I’m sure Burton’s will be a visual feast, but I suspect that the quitessential Englishness at the heart of it will be lost. That’s not to say that artists of other nationalities haven’t been able to make good versions (for example, both Disney and Jan Švankmajer have made wildly different adaptations, both of which are terrific), but for me Alice is part of a long strand of English surrealism, along with Edward Lear, Rupert Bear, The Magical Mystery Tour, Nursery Cryme, Syd Barrett and Vivian Stanshall. It’s this feeling that was captured in Jonathan Miller’s 1966 TV version (described by Brian Sibley much more eloquently than I can here), in which the animal masks were ditched and the inhabitants of Wonderland were depicted as aging upper class eccentrics.

"I'm only a poor old man, 'arold" Wilfred Brambell as The White Rabbit in Jonathan Miller's Alice

Alice doesn’t need darkening or weirdifying. It’s pretty dark and weird to begin with, which is why it’s lasted so long and has lended itself to so many different takes. This new version apparently “has been freshened with a blast of girl power” (urgh. Is it still 1996?) but I don’t recall Alice being a shrinking violet. She  regularly stands up to a bunch of weird unfathomable creatures, doing weird unfathomable shit, and has always, I think, been a pretty strong character. Hopefully they won’t resort to having her doing backflips while firing twin AK47s…

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‘Twas Brillig…

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

The poem Jabberwocky seems to be an exercise in language – the point is you’re never supposed to see The Jabberwock, The Slithy Toves or the Frumious Bandersnatch, they just live in your imagination as uncanny, twisted and shadowy possibilities. Of course Tenniel did illustrate the poem, presumably just because he wanted to draw a cool weird monster. So that’s exactly what I did.

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Pump It

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

It’s Halloween once again – so here’s yet another picture of a creepy pumpkin. Enjoy!

If you are having some kind of party this weekend, or simply sitting alone carving the words “I will kill again” into the walls, maybe you need some suggestions as to what to listen to. Let’s be honest, Monster Mash is rubbish, so here are a few better spooky tunes

10. Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein. Alice has, of course, made a career out of mixing theatrical horror and rock (“STEVEN!”), but I’m going for this one if only for the lyric “I ain’t evil, I’m just good lookin’”. Features Dream Theater’s Derek Sherinian on keyboards, fact fans!

9. Steve Harley – Mr Soft. Specifically the advert which this track was used on during the 80s, which my wife finds terrifying.

8. Alice In Chains – Frogs. Although grunge bands of the early 90s eschewed many of the tropes of metal, they all seemed to be duty bound to have at least one song about a serial killer. Alice In Chains were always totally metal anyway. I don’t know what this song is about, but it’s creepy as hell, especially on the Unplugged album.

7. HP Lovecraft – The White Ship. Based on the story by HP Lovecraft, but not the same HP Lovecraft. Sure they ripped off the folk-psych bolero of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, but they did it so well, who’s to argue?

6. Faith No More – Zombie Eaters. This is probably the only song that’s (possibly) inspired by The Small Assassin by Ray Bradbury

5. David Bowie – Please Mr Gravedigger. Like Alice, Bowie has many spooky songs in his canon… Ashes To Ashes, Scary Monsters, Diamond Dogs, that one about the telly that eats his girlfriend… but here’s one of his earlier pieces, which doesn’t feature any music, but has a shit ton of sound effects, and a convincing theatrical sneeze from the future Thin White Duke

4. Tool – No Quarter. Everything Tool does is awesome and creepy. Everything Led Zeppelin ever did was awesome (except All My Love). Tool + Zeppelin = maximum awesomeitude. I will now stop talking like a fourteen year old YouTube Comment writer.

3. Fairport Convention – Tam Lin. There’s witches, ghosts and murder aplenty in traditional folk music, and this is the tale of some fairies getting up to some shit. I’ve never quite understood it, but it’s dramatic and creepy, and it takes place at Halloween. Everyone and his dog have done this song, but extra points if you go for the super obscure Pentangle version!

2. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath from the album Black Sabbath. METAL! Yes, yes there are plenty of horror themed metal songs. Iron Maiden did Killers, Rush did The Necromancer, and Slayer did their own unique take on The Weather Girls’ classic with It’s Rainin’ Blood. But this is the Ur Text of metal, replete with the sound of pouring rain, doomy bells and Ozzy being menaced by a figure in black (Tony Iommi?).

1. Roger Joseph Manning Jr. – Creeple People. The ex Jellyfish and Imperial Drag guy does the best song never to be in an episode of Scooby Doo. But should’ve been. According to Last.FM, this is my most listened to song ever, or something

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