American McGee's Alice is a video game that combines Alice in Wonderland and Creepiness like peanut butter and jelly. Sandwiches, however, do not give the option to bash heads in using a croquet mallet.
The inspiration for American McGee's Alice, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (or Alice in Wonderland for those people who believe in constant usage of shortcuts) is a novel written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1865 - 145 years old, as of 2010. In human years, that's short for 'a long fucking time'. If this novel were a human, it would undoubtedly be cruising along in its car, ignoring the frustrated honks of the seven-kilometer line of cars behind him, crankily yelling at passing baby strollers and butterflies to slow the Dickens down.
And all the while, they will be crapping on these. All. The while.
The novel has become a cultural and literary icon, becoming the subject of various re-imaginings, interpretations, movie adaptations, and nightmares. Dodgson, a mathematics teacher who apparently felt the need to create a name less pussified than 'Lutwidge Dodgson', came up with the pen name Lewis Carroll. This could be considered an exercise in futility, because his pen-name was really prissy too.
"Let's see, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, okay, by....Lewis Carroll? Lewis Carroll?! Son of a bitch, what was I thinking? It had to be the opium."
Carroll created Alice in Wonderland not after an intense research session, or a simple research session, or even an intense research session with opium. Lewis Carroll created Alice in Wonderland while on a boating trip with Alice Liddell, a 10-year old girl, adding bits and pieces of the story as he went. Alice then requested that he write it down, and Carroll, perhaps sick of having to hear more of that nasally, little-girl whine he was no doubt subjected to throughout the ride, obliged.
Picture probably taken right after two hours of putting up with continuous whining.
American McGee, a game designer who worked on the Doom and Quake video game series, was the driving force behind American McGee's Alice. During his tenure at Electronic Arts, McGee decided that Carroll's Alice was not producing enough terror from children's eternal souls. He decided to school the novel's author in scaring children using anthropomorphic animals by also giving them the tendency to turn into piles of gory corpses, killed in the most gruesome ways. When it came to making video games creepier than Tim Curry in a clown costume, McGee did not shit around with the value-adding process.
Above: Results of the Value-Adding Process.
The video game picks up from where the second book, Through the Looking Glass, left off. For those who had the willpower to stay awake during those periods your Lit teacher would drone on about the story (we salute you), you may remember that the story ends with Alice waking up and seeing a black kitten. According to the story, Alice believes that this cat represents the Red Queen, the antagonist of the story.
Alice, relieved to be home from Wonderland, proves that she is an idiot not to cast this physical-manifestation-of-an-otherworldly tyrant out, because creatures of this nature, to put it delicately, 'f^%k s#$t up.' The game illustrates the perils of living with a creature from Wonderland with this event:
For those of you who didn't check the video: after her trip to Wonderland, that bastard of a kitten knocks down a lamp that ignites Alice's house, causing it to burn to the ground. Hearing her parent's screams as they turn into kebab and realizing she is the only survivor of the fire drives Alice insane. The black kitten, however, presumably escaped to commit more heinous acts against little children.
The arsonist would adopt a new persona and M.O. eight years later.
American McGee's Alice features what would have happened to Wonderland should Alice become insane. In many ways, it becomes similar to what would happen if you decide to take a hit from your bong in the middle of a zombie infested circus - twisted, ungodly psychedelic surroundings, gory, bloody deaths, and many a soiled underwear.
Possibly this many.
Alice - Lewis Carroll Alice is a little ten-year old girl, curious and bored, who one day finds herself in a land with strange creatures and decides to find her way home. American McGee's Alice is quite similar, but replace 'little ten-year-old' with 'insane teenager'; 'curious and bored' with 'whose parents turned into kebab', 'strange creatures' with 'living nightmares', and 'decides to find her way home' with 'proceeds to expose the bloody guts of everyone she finds'.
In retrospect, not really that similar.
The White Rabbit - Going mad has not been kind to the White Rabbit. From a chubby, slightly neurotic bunny-wunny Alice sees sprinting down a rabbit-hole, he appears to have obtained predator-like eyes, a shifty grin, and possibly the wrath of Wonderland's version of Chris Hansen:
"Yes, we understand you're late for a very important date, but why don't you have a seat, right over there?"
The Cheshire Cat: The Cheshire Cat, from the psychotic, randomly vanishing cheerful cat we all love and fear, (mostly fear), appears to have taken one of the most dedicated diets in fictional character history. The Cat's emaciated frame exposes more bones than the basement of a ten-year serial killer.
Now that we've hit Pause at just the right time at Alice in Wonderland, which one looks truly evil?
The Mad Hatter - Another one for the To Catch a Predator: Wonderland Edition roster, the Mad Hatter looks like a cross between Gollum, a scarecrow, Gollum's ass, and then Gollum again. Obsessed with machinery, his goal is to turn the whole of Wonderland into Cyborg County, which proves the fact that making hats paves the way for a strong education in mechanical engineering.
He went insane when he realized chess was not played in a hat, and using markers.
The March Hare and The Dormouse - From two slightly insane characters in the novels, The March Hare and the Dormouse have become victims of the Mad Hatter's experiments, wherein both of them have become subject towhatthell?
Whatever Dormouse is huffing has to be goddamn potent to make him ignore the fact that he is now a T-1000.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee - The twins from Alice in Wonderland are the exact opposite of the Cheshire Cat in the game: their bodies (portly enough to begin with) have grown into proportions that, had they existed in real life, would achieve a lifetime ban from any and all buffet restaurants, or at the very least, a guest spot on Maury.
"Excuse me, is this the way to the Sizzler buffet?"
The Queen of Hearts - The Queen of Hearts is an impeccable tyrant in the Carroll books and the Disney movies, and remains so in American McGee's Alice. In the game, she embodies Alice's insanity and guilt, turning into a multi-faced, tentacled giant monster, which proves to be a positive change for her, weight-wise.
See? Doesn't she look better - Oh, wait. No.
Alice in Wonderland, although a fine piece of literature, does not feature Texas Chainsaw Massacre-levels of violence. The closest it comes to is the Vorpal Sword, but with its usage in the story, it might as well have been used to butter French toast:
...One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back."
Contrary to how weapons in Carroll's time sounded, weapons today no longer go 'snicker-snack'. The sounds commonly associated whenever weapons are wielded are "HOLY-F%^&KING S&(T he's got an Uzi!", or "Oh yeah? Well, I think you're <battle-axe through neck> flaargleaaaaglelburrr".
American McGee's Alice, on the other hand, has weapons, each of them fashioned after a childhood toy, that cause symptoms of Death, such as Uncontrollable Spilled Guts, Sudden Torso-Slashings by Summoned Demons, Hypthermia caused by being frozen into a Block of Ice, and Explosive Gun-Related Spontaneous Combustion.
4 out of 4 creatures in Wonderland are affected by Alice the Murderizer Syndrome. Won't you please give?
The game, although critically lauded for its unusual storyline and its reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, the game has also been cited for its solid third-person shooter nature. Although this may be true, great games such as Super Mario 64 do not have a storyline which features Luigi burning to death inside Luigi's Mansion.
Nintendo's new Mario reboot shows Luigi, about to die a gruesome ghost death, paving the way for Mario's plunge into insanity.