The FREAKIEST Raggedy Ann Movie
January 20, 2021
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown. Then we are treated to a brand-new opening, different than the usual NC intro. It opens with a curtain opening, followed by a montage of shots of various freaky-looking pop culture characters while demented organ music plays in the background)
Announcer (Doug): Ladies and gentlemen, behold the outcast, the creepy and depraved, the bizarre creations not meant for the normal world! (pronounces it "woild") Embrace the twisted weirdness of (A sign pops up with a title on it, which the announces reads...) "Freakshow Cinema"!
(Cut to NC in his place)
NC: Yeah, I wanted to try something a little different.
(A series of posters for newer movies is shown: the remake of Mulan, Tenet and Scoob!)
NC (vo): As I get older and a lot of media gets safer, with some exceptions...
(Now we are treated to another montage, this one of freaky imagery in movies, including in Big Trouble in Little China, 9 and Rock & Rule)
NC (vo): ...I wanted to look over some of the freakier movies of cinema. Some are well-known, others not as much, but they all went for broke in giving us the strange, abnormal, yet creative handful of madness their imaginations can muster. And I wanted to praise their otherworldliness because if you can't imagine something different, you'll be stuck with the same all your life.
NC: With that said, what pops in your mind when you hear the name "Raggedy Ann"?
(A montage of Raggedy Ann memorabilia is shown, starting with a regular doll)
NC (vo): A cute little dolly...
(Next we cut to a Raggedy Ann and Andy cartoon of some kind)
NC (vo): ...an occasional special you saw here or there...
(Then we cut to another Raggedy Ann doll, this one in a glass case with a sign under it warning that the case not be opened, while ominous music plays in the background and a shot of Annabelle fades in)
NC (vo): ...a cursed gateway to evil preserved in glass, inspiring several demonic film adaptations.
NC: My guess is, the director to this (gestures toward the left, where the poster for Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure appears) thought the latter.
(The title for Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure is shown, followed by footage of the movie)
NC (vo): Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure was released in 1977 and was directed by the late, great animator, (An image of the director is superimposed...) Richard Williams, director of animation (A shot of the following is superimposed...) Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Though it did get both a theatrical and VHS release, there's not many high-end copies of it, and it's a shame because this movie is a witch's brew of bizarro. The story sounds very simple: a girl's room of toys, led by Raggedy Ann, welcome a French doll named Babette to her new home. But a snow globe pirate falls for her... (His pants rise up and down) ...and rises and falls and rises and falls... (His limp mustache springs out straight) Oh, God! ...and kidnaps her, forcing Ann and her brother Andy to save her while coming across all sorts of strange characters.
NC: (shrugs) Sounds pretty ordinary, but upon further viewing, you'll find it's anything but.
NC (vo): No matter what version of Raggedy Ann you've seen in the past, I assure you there is nothing freakier than this one! I mean, look at this! Is this the imagery you'd associate with such a simple children's doll?
(A montage of some of the more creepy scenes in the movie play)
Monster: I don't feel so well...
(Cut to a scene in Galaxy Quest)
Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub): That was a hell of a thing.
NC: Well, to figure out what exactly we're looking at, it'd make sense to figure out why we're look at it.
(The 20th Century Fox logo is shown)
NC (vo): 20th Century Fox assigned (An image of the following is superimposed...) Abe Levitow, a Warner Bros. animator...
(Cut to footage of Gay Purr-ee)
NC (vo): ...who directed Gay Purr-ee...
Meowrice's goons: (singing) Man, man, man, man, man, MAN, MAN...!
NC: That's...its own batch of "what".
(Cut back to the Raggedy Ann movie)
NC (vo): ...to helm the project with Richard Williams being the animation supervisor.
(Cut back to the shot of Levitow again)
NC (vo): Just to make things complicated, though, he died before they started.
(More footage of the movie is shown)
NC (vo): Seeing this as a means to get funding for his passion project (A shot of the title for said passion project is superimposed...) The Thief and the Cobbler, Williams took over directing. There was just one problem: he hated the script. He said it wasn't focused, didn't make a ton of sense, and there were too many songs. When the studio apparently said, "Film what's written," critics slammed the movie for – you guessed it – being unfocused, not making a ton of sense, and having too many songs. But Williams in no way half-assed it; he put as much effort as he could into, at the very least, giving some damn good animation, one of the few elements the critics praised the film for. As such, the film is a marvel to look at. The credits alone are ridiculously detailed.
NC: But okay, the vibe you would get from this script is that it's Toy Story before Toy Story was even a thing. And for the first half hour, it is.
NC (vo): The opening half hour is just the toys in the nursery, singing songs and not really saying any amazing dialogue, but for a little kids film, it's passable. When they go looking for the Captain and Babette, the first character they come across is a camel with wrinkled knees. He's been alone for so long, he hallucinates his family calling to him and constantly chases after them.
Raggedy Ann (voiced by Didi Conn): I don't see anything, Andy. Do you?
Raggedy Andy (voiced by Mark Baker): This is really weird.
NC: Odd, but you could just interpret him as a lost toy; it's nothing that out of the ordinary.
NC (vo): And then this...
("This" is a giant, gloppy blob...thing made of taffy and other sweets that it eats)
Blob-like thing (voiced by Joe Silver): What... What's... W-W-What's that?
NC: (throws up hand) This is the movie you're in now! (shakes head)
NC (vo): This is the Greedy, a giant monster who stuffs his face and wants to cut out Raggedy Ann's heart because it's made of candy.
Greedy: (holding up a pair of scissors) It's her heart now, but soon, it will be mine!
(Cut to a clip of a movie (I don't know what it is, though))
Character in movie: What the hell?!
(Cut back to the Raggedy Ann movie)
NC (vo): After they come across a loony knight named...Loony Knight...
Raggedy Ann (voiced by Didi Conn): Why are you doing all this to us?
Loony Knight (voiced by Alan Sues): It's easy! (cackles)
NC (vo): ...he takes them to the court of King Koo Koo, which goes something like this...
("This" sounds like noises like what Gerald McBoing-Boing would make, as Raggedy Andy tries to speak, but his voice turns out to be car noises. Raggedy Ann also tries to speak, but her voice, too, sounds like car noises and a steam whistle)
NC: (creeped out) Last time I saw them in something, they were giving (A shot of the Raggedy Ann and Andy special The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile is shown in the corner) a pumpkin to a little kid! How do we make the leap to this?!*
- NOTE: Actually, The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile was released in 1979, two years after Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure.
NC (vo): And none of these are like the toys seeing everyday things from a different point of view. No, no, all these freaky-ass shit just exist!
Raggedy Ann: (to King Koo Koo, who is quite tiny) Your Highness...
King Koo Koo: (looking up at her) You mean "Lowness". "Your Lowness", that's what it is.
NC (vo): King Koo Koo is very short, but he grows whenever he laughs. (A product from Pfizer called Vilafra is superimposed) Vilafra... They escape, but find Babette has somehow taken over the ship, put the Captain in chains...
Babette (voiced by Niki Flacks): I am ze Captain now!
(Cut to a clip of Captain Phillips)
Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi): Look at me.
Capt. Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks): Sure.
Abduwali: Look at me.
Babette: (audio from Raggedy Ann & Andy) I am ze Captain now!
(Cut back to Raggedy Ann & Andy)
NC (vo): ...and even trussed up our heroes, ending with the King tickling everyone, causing him to grow bigger, eventually exploding...
(After the explosion, we cut to the backyard of the house of the girl who owns the toys, which have fallen into a pond. She goes out into the pond to retrieve them and bring them back into her room)
NC (vo): ...and then they're just back home. Yeah, the girl finds them and just brings them in. The end. I don't know what script problems they're talking about; I followed all this fine once I did bath salts. Even before coming across the first supernatural element, though, the film has all sorts of hilariously uncomfortable moments.
Susie Pincushion (voiced by Hetty Galen): (as she fixes up Raggedy Ann) the way you go banging around with Marcella.
(Cut to a clip of a movie of some kind (I don't know what) involving two teen boys in a locker hall at school)
Boy: (to his friend) Whoa, what?
NC: Part of Richard Williams' brilliance is his attention to detail, so all the characters move with the proper weight they would possess.
NC (vo): So, Raggedy Ann, being a floppy rag doll, moves maybe (becomes uncertain) a little...too much like a floppy rag doll?
Raggedy Ann: It is true, I do get bounced around a bit.
NC (vo): Come on, give those dead eyes a little bit of light. (Suddenly, a bright light shines on Raggedy Ann's eyes, causing NC to yelp in shock) Go back to (A shot of Wilkins the frog is shown off to the side) Wilkins' puppet!
(Cut to a clip of a Wilkins Coffee commercial)
Wilkins: (flipping a switch to trigger an electric chair) How shocking.
(Cut back to the Raggedy Ann movie)
NC (vo): Over the years, it's gone back and forth whether or not Raggedy Ann and Andy were sweethearts or brother and sister. This film clarifies several times that they're siblings...
Raggedy Andy: (yelling at the Loony Knight) You lay off my sister, Sir Leonard!
NC (vo): ...but that doesn't stop some awkward gestures and stares every once in a while.
Raggedy Andy: (singing to Raggedy Ann) I love you so...
(As Raggedy Ann sings with him, we cut to the infamous Folgers Christmas commercial, where the man and woman who love each other are brother and sister)
Woman: You're my present this year.
NC: Just don't question it. (realizes what he's saying) Question it. Question it a lot.
NC (vo): And then of course there's these damn things...
(Said damn things happen to be the Penny Twins (voiced by Margery Gray and Lynne Stuart), a pair of twin dolls that sing and dance in unison. They are supposed to be cute, but they clearly look too creepy to be so)
Penny Twins: (singing and dancing) Where'd you go? Where'd you go?
NC: (in fearful monotone) I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer.
NC (vo): Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
Penny Twins: (dancing up close to the camera) Whoooooa...whoa! (roll their eyes while their mouths still in an O shape)
NC (vo): I have no idea what these things are supposed to be. Dolls, I guess, but what little girl wants to see these naked chipmunk-voiced demons under her Christmas tree? Everything they say is sung, danced in unison, and ends with their eyes pouring acid on your crumb of nightmare-fueled innocence. They are terrifying!
(A montage of clips featuring the twins singing and dancing is shown)
Penny Twins: What's in the box? What's in the box? / What did you do and why? / How are you gonna get in that thing? / Really scary! Really scary! / Whoooooa...whoa! / Whoooooa...whoa! / Ohhhh...oh!
(They come up so close to the camera, their faces cover the screen)
NC: (creeped out) Need a break? I gotcha.
(He brings up a black screen, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, NC pulls the black screen away)
(Apparently not, as the Penny Twins are shown again)
(Again, they take up the screen as they dance up to the camera)
NC: (whispering) You'll never be better. (shakes head)
NC (vo): Williams' obsession with making the film look good resulted in going over-budget, over-scheduled, and, sadly a common occurrence for him, (The poster for The Thief and the Cobbler is superimposed) being fired from the project. Because of this, parts from the movie seem straight up unfinished. Like I mentioned before, the ending is incredibly abrupt and doesn't make a lick of sense. And on top of that, song numbers that were most likely gonna be shot in more detail were suddenly filmed from a great distance. Most of the sequence, "Candy Hearts" and "Paper Flowers", is shot so that you can't see them lip-sync the song. In fact, one shot holds for almost an entire minute. This isn't exactly the most beautiful visual to hold on, guys! Though, I guess it is less ugly than– (The Penny Twins abruptly appear again briefly, startling NC) AH! This resulted in the film bombing pretty hard on the box office, getting less-than-glowing praise from critics, and confusing tons of horrified kids, as these clearly not paid children will tell you.
(Cut to footage of kids giving their thoughts on the movie)
Boy 1: The, um... The plot was really, really good.
(Yellow text appears, reading, "Really?")
Boy 2: It was very exciting, a lot of action.
(Yellow text appears saying "Where?")
Boy 3: The music got to me in a very certain way.
(Yellow text appears saying "...What?")
NC (vo): As such, it was quickly forgotten about, making occasional appearances on kids TV like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.
NC: And yes, it is very easy to see why the majority of people wouldn't get into this, but...I still stand by there's a lot to appreciate.
NC (vo): Aside from the most obvious being the animation, which is breathtaking when it's (A shot of the Penny Twins is superimposed) literally not trying to take away your breath, there is an innocent, albeit, awkward charm to the film. It's clearly written for little children, but the actors all give a dedicated kind of energy to their roles. Didi Conn, who you may remember as (An image of the following is superimposed...) Frenchie from Grease, adds a very delicate and gentle spirit to her delivery.
Raggedy Ann: Lots of different things. Some are real, for sure, strange.
NC (vo): Mark Baker adds a tough, but kind balance to Andy.
Raggedy Andy: Are you scared?
Raggedy Ann: Mmmm, yeah.
Raggedy Andy: Well, you shouldn't be. I'm not.
NC (vo): And others like George S. Irving as The Captain, Alan Sues as the Knight, and Marty Brill as the King, are so wonderfully over the top, it's hard not to laugh at the absurdity of their voices.
King Koo Koo: Oh, oh, do some more to this one here, I mean, he makes me expand real good.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons)
Lisa Simpson: (thinking) I know, I heard it, too.
(Cut back to the movie again)
NC (vo): Even the director's daughter as the kid who owns the toys adds a strange kind of realism to a film with very little realism in it. Every scene has a ton of atmosphere and a very distinct mood. True, they don't all go together, but individually, they do strike a very unique kind of ambience. One of the major criticisms of the film is that it has too many songs, and at a whooping (yellow text that says "16 SONGS" is superimposed on the center) 16 for an hour and a half flick, that's the same number as (poster for Sound of Music is superimposed) Sound of Music, a three hour flick, it's a legit criticism.
NC: But here's the thing: the songs are actually pretty good.
NC (vo): They were written by (Images of...) Joe Raposo, the guy who did It's Not Easy Being Green, The Great Muppet Caper songs, and a ton of work for Sesame Street. What's so interesting is because of his background in children's entertainment, the songs needed to not only be catchy, but also short for their limited attention spans. Because of this, even though there are way too many of them and they rarely further the plot, I can play just a snippet of them, and chances are, you'll remember how they go.
The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees: (singing) How can you be... happy?
Loony Knight: (singing) The reason that I– (shocks Ann and Andy) is 'cause I looooooooove you...
Singers: (singing) Hail to our glorious king!
Captain Contagious: (singing) America! Everything I've waited for!
Raggedy Andy: (singing) Push me! Shove me! Turn me around, but I'm– (crashes into a piano) no girl's toy!
NC: For decades, unless you were...
NC (vo): ...Disney, a lot of songs in kids films were were pretty forgettable. Which is why it's crazy that for a kid's film with 16 songs in them, I remember how almost every single one of them goes. Yes, they do halt what little story there is from moving forward, but they're catchy, clever, and extremely hummable. I know it's not like the guy doesn't have enough popular works to his name, but it is a shame a musical with so many good songs is not only forgotten about, but also dismissed because they're simply too many of them.
NC: Too much of a good thing, I guess, but it is still a good thing.
NC (vo): Because of those reasons, I can't like this as a great film or even a... finished film. But, it's so lavishly odd, it can never be forgotten. I love how insane it is. I love how it goes from one random thing to another because you have no idea what to expect, Except that it'll be something well animated, creative, and have you humming afterwards. When it's good, it's good on a technical and sometimes whimsical level. When it's bad, it's the most fascinating kind of bad. Despite all of its production problems, it went all out, and it clearly shows in the end product, even if the end product is a mess. I hope more people check it out for all the hard work that went into it and, whether it is a pro or con, for its unforgettable night terrors it sure do induce! Maybe if it talked about and shared around enough, a proper DVD or even Blu-Ray release could be in the future. But with it only existing on pan-and-scan, VHS, and rare widescreen versions online, it sadly doesn't look likely. Rumor has it that there's not even an original negative left to transfer from. But who knows? Maybe over time, or if it will show up somewhere. If you can find a version of it, though, check it out and spread the world. If for any other reason, to spread the madness everyone deserves to ponder and question!
(We close on the animated Raggedy Ann transforming into a real doll)
NC: I have a few of these planned, but if there's any freaky ass movies you want to see represented more, leave them in the comments below! I'm the Nostalgia Critic! I remember it so you don't have to! (gets up and leaves)
Channel Awesome tagline – Susie Pincushion: ...the way you go banging around with Marcella.
Boy: Whoa, what?
(the credits roll)