We are all interested in bad movies, inexcusable cinema, worse-than-mediocre pictures, and miserable excuses for art, for that is the stuff we use to fill the empty spaces in our souls. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, and the unexplainable—that is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of some of the worst movies ever made. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony of the miserable soul who survived a screening. I am that miserable soul. The absurdly low budgets, the cramped soundstages, the ridiculous plots, the inane dialogue, the risible acting—my friend, we cannot keep these a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. Remember, my friends: terrible movies such as these will affect you in the future!
Alice in Acidland would not exist had it not been for the mores of its time and a sizable group of lonely middle-aged men with time on their hands and disposable incomes. In 1969, hardcore pornography was still illegal in most of the US, and the equipment to watch films in the privacy of one’s home was still rare, cumbersome, and expensive. Literate lonely men read Playboy. Rich lonely men hired prostitutes. Bold lonely men frequented sad, grimy “grindhouse” theaters that catered to a clientele with raincoats in their laps. Such was the genesis of twenty years of “nudie cuties” and “soft-core society exposes.” Many of these films purported to explore a social problem (drug addiction, in the case of Alice) so when local authorities and church officials tried to ban these films, the producers could hide behind the films’ tissue-thin “redeeming social value” to justify their production and exhibition.
What an exciting time to be alive!
Because exploitation filmmakers often changed the titles of their films during their exhibition history to trick audiences into seeing a bad film more than once, I wonder if the producers of Alice in Acidland deliberately filled their picture with enough exploitable elements (hippie chicks, unsupervised pool parties, lesbians, marijuana smoking, men named “Animal,” and LSD experimentation) to justify as many title changes as possible. Given that the actual “acid” section of Alice in Acidland is less than five minutes long, I can easily imagine this film being re-titled and marketed as Alice in Hippieland, Alice in Weedland, Alice and Animal, or Alice Takes a Two-Lady Bath.
As many online critics before me have pointed out, Alice in Acidland’s cardinal sin is boredom. It’s not that there isn’t something going on—there’s plenty going on—it’s just that I don’t care and I don’t want to look at it. The pool party that is the centerpiece of the film accounts for more than half of its meager running time. With a bare minimum of editing, the audience is “treated” to over twenty minutes of black and white pool party footage shot in real time. I get bored at real pool parties quicker than that (and I can swim AND see in color!)
ON THE OTHER HAND: Critics of our current society and media’s obsession with unhealthy body images might find Alice in Acidland a film to champion. All actors and actresses that wind up stripping down to the altogether in this film are manifestly and refreshingly average: paunchy guts, pasty skin, flabby thighs, generous buttocks, bandy legs, droopy breasts, and hairy backs—a celebration of the real human form!
THIS JUST IN: According to eagle-eyed Amazon.com reviewer Perry Black, who owns both the original Something Weird VHS tape of Alice and the more recent DVD, the disc version has been cut and censored; this disc version is only 53 minutes long, compared to the VHS running time of 62 minutes. Mr. Black suggests that some full frontal nudity and more brutal violence are the victims of the cuts. Watching the DVD, I did notice an unusual amount of jump cuts. I had chalked it up to the age and condition of the print.