This week, the fine folks over at Open Culture stumbled upon a truly wonderful bit of forgotten early ‘70s ephemera: Curious Alice, an Alice in Wonderland-style animated short that’s clearly intended to scare kids away from drugs, but instead makes them look sort of awesome. Making an actual anti-drug movie is a tricky business; there are so many ways to screw it up and get the mission backwards that about the only safe bet is to just scare the shit outta people (á la Requiem for a Dream). So let’s take a look at Curious Alice, and nine other anti-drug movies that you can watch and laugh at, right now. (It’s a Friday — what else have you got to do?)
This 1971 oddity was a product of the National Institute for Mental Health, aimed at kids who were no doubt familiar with the Lewis Carroll source material and the Disney adaptation. But the cutout-style animation is far from Disney (it’s closer to Terry Gilliam), and the narrative sends our Alice from her dull black-and-white world into a trippy, colorful, drug-induced wonderland. In the process, the anti-drug message gets gloriously scrambled; it plays less like a warning than a hilariously ineffective sales pitch. According to Open Culture, “After the movie came out, the National Coordinating Council on Drug Education slammed the movie, calling it confusing and counterproductive.” No kidding!