Escape From Tomorrow has one of the most fascinating productions of any film in modern memory. Telling the story of a father who, on the last day of a Disney World family vacation, discovers he has lost his job, he begins to lose touch with reality. The film is shot largely inside Disneyland and Disney World parks, guerilla-style and completely without permission. This is one of those movies that shouldn’t exist, and shouldn’t be screened publicly - but it does, and it has, and it is getting a DVD / VOD release on October 11th. (I’ll believe it when I see it.) Disney seems to be ignoring the film completely in hopes that without the publicity, it will fade away into obscurity.
I was lucky enough to see the film at Fantastic Fest this year, and as a lifelong Disneyland-goer, I was totally fascinated to see how they managed to shoot in the most artificially “happiest place on earth” and not get sued out of existence. To give you a tease, here are the five most un-Disney things I saw in Escape From Tomorrow. (Warning! Spoilers ahead!)
Devil Kids in “It’s a Small World”
This one seems like a gimme. “It’s a Small World” has always had an air of insidiousness to it. When I was little I imagined that at night, after the ride closed, the little dolls came to life, and were bitter, angry, and vengeful about being enslaved in that ride, forced to sing that dreadful song over and over and over.... Anyway, in Escape From Tomorrow, the puppets grow monstrous teeth and expressions that make them look like they would kill every person on the ride - if only they weren’t nailed down.
So we’ve had bird flu and swine flu... next on the list is cat flu, an illness that is allegedly sweeping across the Escape park. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, and hacking up hairballs. Of course. The cat flu is not real, but before the screening at Fantastic Fest, waitresses passed out shots of Jack Daniels so the audience could inoculate themselves... just in case.
Disneyland offers every kind of junk food from the little carts dotting the landscape: popcorn, pretzels, soda, ice cream, cotton candy - the usual suspects. One thing they are known for are turkey legs: enormous, greasy haunches of meat served in a foil bag and enjoyed Renaissance Fair-style. In Escape From Tomorrow, implications abound suggest that those turkey legs are not actually turkey. I’ve never had one, but they look rather noxious, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that part of the film was based on some sort of secret fact.
Lab Inside “Spaceship Earth”
Despite going to Disneyland countless times in my life, I have only ever once been to Disney World, and when we went, the iconic “Spaceship Earth” ride in the giant golf ball at Epcot was closed for refurbishment. So I don’t know, maybe this is a real representation of what is inside “Spaceship Earth.” But the posters of naked women inside the movie set lead me to believe that it is not accurate. Also, the mad scientist experimenting on the poor, demented dad probably aren’t real either. And it has probably never rolled Indiana Jones-style across the parks.
Judging by the “princess” aisle of the local Halloween costume shop, this one is not so far-fetched, but in Escape From Tomorrow, the Disney princesses take snapshots with tourists during the day, then having sex with Japanese businessmen at night - while still in costume. Granted, I don’t know what the Disney princesses do in their off-hours, but they surely aren’t doing it in Disney’s costumes.
Read FEARnet's review of Escape from Tomorrow.