The Forgotten ’80s Fantasy Classic With 100% On Rotten Tomatoes

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

As we’ve said before, it’s tough being a fantasy fan: good films like the Lord of the Rings movies are fantastically sublime, but once you start looking for other stuff to watch, you discover that most fantasy films stink worse than Gollum’s loincloth. But what if there was a perfect fantasy film hiding in front of us for decades? The 1985 movie Dreamchild is pitch-perfect and currently has a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Go Tell Alice

What is Dreamchild about, though? It focuses on Alice Liddell, the real person who served as the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s literary classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The plot itself is fictional, and we follow the elderly Liddell as she visits America to get an honorary degree from Columbia University. 

Where Reality Meets Fantasy

At this point, you might be forgiven for asking the obvious question about Dreamchild. If we’re focusing on the real-life inspiration for the classic Alice in Wonderland story, where does the fantasy element come in? Alice frequently has hallucination-style memories of a reverend in the Victorian era, and as her memory flip-flops between Victorian England and Depression-era New York, she needs the help of a young orphan to navigate a complex world full of outward exploitation and inner revelation.

Return To Wonderland

As you might expect, the real Alice’s hallucinatory memories are eventually filled with some familiar characters like the March Hare and the Mock Turtle. If you’re mostly familiar with seeing Alice’s playmates as animations (either the 2D Disney style or the CGI of the Tim Burton movies), you may be pleasantly surprised by the amazing puppet work courtesy of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Throw in a killer voice cast, and you’ll be instantly charmed by these colorful characters.

The Real World Is Far More Terrifying

Speaking of the cast, Dreamchild has great performances from some actors who will be familiar to any genre fans. For example, Ian Holm (perhaps best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings films) plays the reverend whose memory haunts the older Liddell. Peter Gallagher (maybe best known for playing Sandy Cohen in The O.C. and William Dodds on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) plays Jack Dolan, a new friend who helps Liddell navigate this brave new world.

The Star Trek Connection

gates mcfadden star trek

Speaking of familiar faces, Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Gates McFadden helped make this film, but you won’t see her onscreen at any point during Dreamchild. The Dr. Crusher actor actually developed both the choreography and movement for the puppets. Just think: if McFadden hadn’t blown us all away as Dr. Crusher, there’s a chance she would have ended up bringing the puppets to life for other sci-fi productions such as Farscape.

The Rare Perfect Rating For A Fantasy Film

As of this writing, Dreamchild has a whopping 100 percent critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes and ratings that high is virtually unheard of for genre films. If you’d like to check it out, that’s easy enough: the film is currently streaming for free (albeit ad-supported) on Plex. Don’t blame us, though, if you end up becoming obsessed with this quirky gem of a film and join Alice as she goes right down the rabbit hole into this fantastic cinematic world.