“Malice in Wonderland”: Vincent Collins’s Lewis Carroll-inspired porno cartoon

By on October 19, 2015

Vincent Collins’s short animated film from 1982, Malice In Wonderland, is, as he described on his own Vimeo page, “a variation on the 150 year old story — none of the events portrayed actually happened, for crissake….”

The description continues: Malice in Wonderland takes you on a terrifying psychedelic adventure through morphing and shifting shapes. Roughly based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with characters like Alice, the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat making appearances, the film still seems to be in its own world of insanity. Not for the squeamish or the easily offended, this short dives through an array of morphing orifices that seem to warp into other dimensions.”

This is probably a good time to tell you that this film is probably NSFW, depending on where you work.

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Earlier this year, on the Fourth of July, we told you about San Francisco-based animator Vincent Collins’s Bicentennial short animated film “200,” which was commissioned by an unlikely sounding organization called the U.S. Information Agency (now known as the U.S. International Communication Agency, they dispensed patriotic propaganda between 1953-1999). We mentioned at the time that we were going to do a separate post for his Malice in Wonderland someday because it’s so awesome, and we keep our promises.

In September 2009, Collins talked with Vice UK about the short film, an interview highlighted by Collins’s admission that “Sex has some really good shapes and actions for animation.”

He continued: “Most of my stuff is a non-stop flow of images, start to finish – non-stop climaxes, involving the entire screen without a background/foreground concept. The Alice in Wonderland story has some great opportunities for this type of animation.

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Here’s the full interview:

While the film industry of today is flooded with reams of CGI Pixar blargey about fish that get lost in monster factories (or something like that), back in the 70s, animating films actually involved painting and drawing. Vince Collins made some of the most hallucinatory animations you can imagine back in those halcyon days. We had a word with him about turning one of the world’s favorite children’s books into a trippy porno where a girl disappears up her own vagina.

In case you haven’t seen Malice in Wonderland, here it is. Don’t watch this if you are feeling feared out, have been taking drugs, are lonely, or are easily unnerved. In fact, only watch it if you are feeling pretty peppy.

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Vice: How did you start making animated films?
Vince Collins: I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s an OK place, but you have to go to California to make movies. I moved there and saw films made by independent animators like Jeff Hale and Larry Jordan. The idea then was that you could use the professional resources which were once exclusively commercial – labs, sound mixing, and so on – to make your own movie. It was really revolutionary and inspirational.

Vice: How involved were you in the drug culture of the time? Your work has an obvious psychedelic edge to it, to say the least, especially ‘Malice in Wonderland.’
Vince Collins: The films reflect the spirit of the times; I made 60s-style films in the 70s. The last three blocks of Haight Street, before the park, were lined with drug dealers. As you walked by they would whisper, “Grasssss, LSDeeeeee, cooocaine,” and occasionally, “Oooopium.” That’s what I heard all the time. The drug scare of the time was media sensationalism. The people in media were all old, they grew up before electricity and automobiles. Young people were certainly not taken seriously. Film directors were all in their 70s, assistant cameramen were in their 60s, there was nobody younger than that on the set. George Lucas grew a beard to appear older. That time was the first youth culture.

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Vice: How many films did you make in total?
Vince Collins: After I had made six or seven movies, the independent film scene disappeared, in the late 70s, but I kept making films anyway. That’s what I liked to do, but I wanted to make something sensational to mark the end of that era – a porno.

Vice: So what happened to your porno plans?
Vince Collins:
Malice in Wonderland was the porno. Maybe it’s not considered one now, but it was a porno then.

Vice: Oh right, yeah. I didn’t really think of it as porn.
Vince Collins:
Malice in Wonderland was actually the least known film I had made, as it turns out, because most of the theatres that showed independent films had disappeared by that point. There were no VHS or DVDs, you had to be there to see It. And it got booed anyway. Then 25 years later it started appearing on YouTube and got more views per day than it did in its entire theatrical career.

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Vice: Why was it booed?
Vince Collins: These days, it’s,
“Dude, what the fuck is that shit?” Whereas back then, it was, “You are exploiting women, you filthy sexist pig!” Thus booing and hissing.

Vice: It does have some pretty heavy duty sexual imagery in it. Was that your interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, or was the sexual stuff not directly related to the book?
Vince Collins: Sex has some really good shapes and actions for animation. Most of my stuff is a non-stop flow of images, start to finish – non-stop climaxes, involving the entire screen without a background/foreground concept. The
Alice in Wonderland story has some great opportunities for this type of animation. Once, ‘Malice in Wonderland’ was rented by a woman’s club by mistake to show at their meeting. There was an actual occurrence of “the aghast audience running from the room.” On the upside, when Malice was in post-production, the guy there told me that it was the only time his crew of tape machine operators had ever actually watched one of the projects they were working on.

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Vice: That’s something, I guess. Can you tell me more about the physical process of your filmmaking?
Vince Collins: I work tight – the actual artwork size is about 11 x 15 cm – and I use a long lens. It was always the traditional cell-style animation, but I’d divide each cell into four sections to economize. Cells and paint were expensive. And I didn’t use effects, it was all just drawn and painted, beginning to end.

Vice: Was filmmaking your primary source of income, or was it more of an obsession you cultivated for your own satisfaction?
Vince Collins: There was a time when you could live off of grants, film festival prizes, film rentals, and get all your meals at premieres, studio parties, and receptions. And for a while, the US government did a lot to support filmmakers – buying prints, study programs. The American Film Institute was created trying to emulate the National Film Board of Canada. I got a grant from them. David Lynch made his first film with AFI money. But when all that was over, I kept going by obsession and working at a film lab where there was free film, processing, and services.

Yep, I guess those days are over.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.