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JABBERWOCKY 1985

 

Realm: Alice’s Fears
Featured In: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass (1985)
Played By: Tom McLoughlin

As before with a few other characters, there’s a bit of backstory before we get on to this incarnation of the Jabberwocky. Some years ago (close to thirty but then who’s counting), a two-part television miniseries was created based on both of Lewis Carroll’s famous books. Entitled together simply as Alice in Wonderland, the miniseries featured a HUGE cast of famous actors and actresses for the time. Why there’s…

Alright, I have no idea who any of them are beyond Carol Channing who played the White Queen and young Natalie Gregory who played Alice, and would later be the voice of Jenny in Disney’s Oliver & Company, but then it’s hard to recognize a colorful cast behind semi-elaborate costumes. It was filmed in all of fifty-five days and almost entirely within the studio lot of MGM Studios, now Sony Pictures, and is easily one of the few films that stay, relatively, close to the original books. I say relatively because there are a few minor tweaks throughout, especially in the case of the Jabberwocky.

Let me state this outright. This film was a series of firsts for me when I was kid. It was the first time I had ever seen the Jabberwocky on screen instead of paper. It was the first time I was ever frightened out of my wits beyond that freaky elephant scene in Dumbo. You all know the one and those that don’t, consider yourselves lucky. It was also my first jump scare and I’d dare to say, first true horror film to boot. For you see, the Jabberwocky in this film was no mere beast represented as a creature of conquest in an odd poem.

No, this Jabberwocky was the full, living manifestation of Alice’s fears of growing up. It first shows up at the end of the part one, shortly after Alice discovers that she’s still in Wonderland and reads the aforementioned poem and is greatly disturbed by its words. This effectively made the film my first cliffhanger as well might I add.

The Jabberwocky shows up only two other times in the film but before I get to those, let me first describe to you this draconic manifestation of fear itself and how it first appears to Alice. The Jabberwocky is human sized insomuch that it is somewhere close to eight feet tall at the least and thus easily towers over Alice herself, who is a child of ten years during the film’s production I might add. When it arrives, the sun itself grows dim and the shadows stretch impossibly far as thunder booms and lightning crackles in a cloudless blackened sky…

Alice steps up from her seat, backing away from the book that she has so foolishly read… Lightning cracks once more but there’s something else beneath the echoing thunder. A low growl, guttural and deep, and she whirls to see fanged jaws opening wide as bloodied red eyes shine above. Wings flap upon the back of the beast as it slowly trudges forward, knowing that its prey has no escape. For the Jabberwocky has invaded Alice’s own home, the one and only place she should feel most safe and secure.

The film then ends with the dreaded “To be continued…”

Sugar honey iced tea!

I saw that when I was five, ladies and gentleman. Needless to say, I went to bed that night with every “tough” stuffed animal I add and was all but buried beneath them for several nights after.

And that’s only the first time we see the Jabberwocky itself…

The second time it appears, the Jabberwocky arrives after Alice converses with Humpty Dumpty and the talking egg brings about her fears by making her fear for his safety atop the wall. The Jabberwocky arrives and, I kid you not, outright kills Humpty Dumpty by shoving him off the wall before continuing its pursuit of Alice.

It chases her through a darkened wood where massive cobwebs hang in wait to trap both Alice and the Jabberwocky, the former who just manages to slip away while the latter just tears its way through it. Alice barely manages to evade it by ducking beneath a bush and we see the Jabberwocky’s foot crashing down mere inches away from her face as it tries in vain to see her amidst the brambly bushes. It walks away and soon vanishes back to the ether.

Holy sugar honey iced tea.

Add, my first death scene to boot.

The third and final time… You know what? How about you all check it out for yourselves. Again, I remind you all that this was a made for television production with both a limited budget, which was spent towards the actors I’m sure, and in an incredibly short span of time. With that in mind, hold on to your butts, it’s about to get frightening up in here…

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