Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll

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Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll
Ph poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Roger Avary
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by
Cinematography Benoît Debie
Edited by Steven Klein
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4.2 million

Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll is a planned fantasy-horror film by Marilyn Manson with Geoffrey Cox and Anthony Silva that has been in development hell since 2004. It would be directed by Marilyn Manson as part of his Celebritarian Corporation art movement, and it would be his directorial debut as a feature filmmaker. It is being produced by Blue Light for Wild Bunch and has estimated budget of $4,200,000. In the leading roles are Marilyn Manson as Lewis Carroll, English model Lily Cole as Alice, Evan Rachel Wood as Alice's alter ego and British actress Tilda Swinton as Lewis Carroll's dream wife.[1] According to press sources, the production of the film was discontinued.[2]

According to an interview with co-writer Anthony Silva, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll is still on and the talk of it being shut down was just a myth.[3]

Anthony Silva, co-writer for Phantasmagoria, spoke about the film in a May 2010 interview with MansonWiki. Silva claimed his roles might have extended to direction and editing as well as screenwriting. He also spoke about the film's creation process, remembering how the writers studied Carroll's diaries, biographies and newspaper articles and surveys of the era, in addition to the very cameras and photography from that time period. Medical practices of the 1800s were also examined, "as Carroll experienced great bouts of sickness throughout his life." In an interview with Ora TV talk host, Larry King on June 3, 2013, Manson mentions 'But I just resurrected it again, (Phantasmagoria) and Roger Avary is going to direct it.'

In a Facebook status on 6 February 2014, Manson announced "My long-awaited portrayal of Lewis Carroll in the film, PHANTASMAGORIA is finally in production. I cannot give out the details of the other artists involved, or the director today...but this will be my dream within a dream role as an actor."[4]


Victorian England.

A haunted writer in an isolated castle is tormented by sleepless nights and visions of a girl named Alice. He finds himself becoming a symptom of his own invention.

“Now all my nightmares know my name.”

He is Lewis Carroll. Terrified of what waits for him each night.[5]




The script for the film has been completed as of December 2005. Benoît Debie (director of photography for several of Gaspar Noé's films, e.g. Irréversible, Enter the Void and Calvaire) is the director of photography.

As of December 2007, much of the design is finished and the film has a distributor.

According to Marilyn Manson:

It was meant to have been filmed earlier but Eat Me, Drink Me became something that was absolutely my first priority. Now the movie will be delayed even more because of the ongoing scriptwriters strike in Hollywood which is affecting all present productions. I'll try and restart it at the beginning of next year.[6]
Coming out with this tour and when I finish this and I go and make my movie, its going to make for a better movie because I feel stronger physically, mentally, focused, more confident. I've got more Ideas. I got time to step away from the script, and still I love it and I can't wait to do it. It's even in a greater place now because, asides from the writers strike, that works out with the tour so, it looks like we are going to do it, I wont say when because movies are very unpredictable they get moved around, but when the tour's done, May, June, I don't know, but in Europe, Prague, most of it in Prague, maybe some of it in Romania. Wild Bunch is so supportive and have always believed in me, they want me to have everything I need to make the best movie I can make, and I feel like I can make the movie now so I am excited to do it.[7]
I just got an updated script today [20 October 2008]. I don’t know what the status is... I think that timing has always been a problem with it, because I wanted to do a record when it was time [to do the film]. For us, we’re real focused on making our new record, because we’re almost done.[8]

The title is taken from a famous and hard to find collection of Lewis Carroll's poems originally published as "Rhyme? and Reason?" but titled "Phantasmagoria" in later editions. Twin Engine Publishing HB, Wildside Press Books and Prometheus Books are some of the few contemporary publishers of the book. Phantasmagoria is also the name for live horror shows involving projection onto smoke screens that were invented in the 18th century France.

Presentation of Lewis Carroll's character[edit]

Marilyn Manson:

I want to take the children's story that we all know, and discover the horrifying roots that grow beneath every one of its childish metaphors. The characters may be absurd and wrapped in puzzles, but the author himself is the story that I find painfully close to me. Lewis Carroll is far more complex than the world's narrow perception of him as a quiet deacon, a mathematician and a loner, simply obsessed with photographing young girls. He was possibly one of the most divided souls living in his own hell that the world has overlooked.[5]
It's about Lewis Carroll and how he became a persona much more bizarre and elaborate than Marilyn Manson. Charles Dodgson was his real name, and he was a person who had a tortured inability to find love and to find happiness in his life, and his story is one of great depression. It's one of a split personality – a person who was deaf in his right ear and left-handed. He was a mathematician and an artist, a deacon in a church who believed in evolution.[9]
I felt like there were a lot of things about his personality that were like mine. His creativity thrived mostly at night. He was a very odd person. In the past year, just putting together the script, I think I've adopted a lot of his personality, whether for better or for worse. I discovered that Charles Dodgson, who called himself Lewis Carroll, was more of a creation than his stories were. He was very much a Jekyll and Hyde story, and the more I looked into it, the more (I realized) this was a ghost story, really. He was haunted by his own demons and had a split personality in a lot of ways. He couldn't find happiness; he couldn't find a family. He didn't sleep. I think that he was seeing things. You start seeing things differently, stuff that normal people don't see – stuff that I have seen now and again. I think I was able to relate to that and to want to put it on the screen.[10]

Redefinition of horror genre[edit]

Manson has stated his aim for the project is to “redefine the horror genre” and bring it back to the days of Roman Polanski, Ingmar Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock. “It‘s kind of a return to Hitchcock-style psychological horror about letting your mind do the damage and sometimes what you don’t see is scarier." "I wouldn't say it will be like a modern horror film. It wouldn't be like what people are used to seeing today. But I think by being traditional, sometimes like a Hitchcock, it's almost modern, because people are so used to seeing special effects. I have a magician that I've hired to do my special effects. I don't want any CGI. I want only in-camera, so I have a magician who's my special-effects man. I just want to be unconventional by being traditional."[11]

Manson has stated that Phantasmagoria will be "something people haven't seen before[10] and will be filmed in a way no one has done yet. “I have a camera that I’ll be the first person to use in cinema, and I‘m very excited about it. It’s very unique."[10] Friend and fellow filmmaker James Cameron has supplied his Reality Camera System technology for Manson to film.

He has suggested the use of subliminal elements to enhance feeling, but also says he may go further. “I‘m going to do a lot of things that may end up being illegal. Until they are, I will do them. I think it will change people’s opinion about horror films and they will realize they’re not all about slasher”. “I might add that the girls playing Tweedledum and Tweedledee are twins who get to have real, genuine sex with each other. I like to make dreams come true”.[12]

The film has also been linked with other projects such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s King Shot and an as yet untitled film with Tilda Swinton. The tagline is taken from The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1799), from Caprichos, by Francisco Goya.


Currently the production on Phantasmagoria is postponed and has no start date.[13] Screenwriter Anthony Silva is quoted in May 2010:

The project is still active. What people fail to realize sometimes is that the film industry is very different than the music industry. It's not uncommon for films to get pushed and rescheduled multiple times. There are script rewrites, actor's schedules, union strikes. That, coupled with the economic climate we're dealing with today, makes it an even greater challenge. I know so many amazing writers and directors right now that have projects in waiting, projects that get pushed for no good reason whatsoever. It can be incredibly frustrating sometimes, but the good news is that the project is not dead and is still with Wild Bunch.[14]


It was originally believed that Manson was filming in Ireland and Sintra in Portugal as a possible location. Marilyn Manson explains that it "is a very powerfully magical, strange place. It was my first choice for location to shoot my film Phantasmagoria...". On the January 14, 2008 radio show of Loveline with Dr. Drew and Stryker, Manson {pola} states that although unsure of where he will be filming, it will more than likely be Romania.[15]


Manson has mentioned that so far the music has been based on some of the score Chris Vrenna originally created for American McGee's Alice incidentally, Manson himself was originally supposed to work on the "McGee" soundtrack[16] He intends to be working with Twiggy Ramirez, Tim Skold, Rob Holliday and Ginger Fish on the original soundtrack and previously unreleased Marilyn Manson's songs but has added that he doesn't want to over extend himself as he has other responsibilities, i.e. acting and directing. Madonna Wayne Gacy possibly contributed prior to leaving Marilyn Manson.

It's interesting that we can create scenes around the mood of certain songs. It's working in a different way than you normally would with film. I just started making music that ended up not fitting anywhere on any of the Marilyn Manson albums over the years, and I kind of collected it together. It's much more cinematic.[10]

Marilyn Manson does mention the possibility of there being at least one unoriginal song used in one of his films: "There's a song that's a huge influence on the way the movie ends called 'In Every Dream Home a Heartache' by Roxy Music, and it very well might make its way into a film, which would be very odd because it's a '70s song in a 19th century film".[16]


At a press conference for the film at Berlinale 2006, Marilyn Manson and Lily Cole showed a five-minute trailer, poster and still photos by Steven Klein to around sixty journalists which was generally well received.[17] However, when the trailer was uploaded to the internet, it was panned by viewers who were left shocked by the disturbing images presented. It has led to the delay of the movie and is officially on 'indefinite production hold'.[18]


The film will reportedly be made available through Marilyn Manson's official website though he has also stated that the film's first release will be "very unconventional".[citation needed]

Marilyn Manson has also made many references to how his website will change in the future, stating that the website is very video-extensive and "has been created to be a place where you can see even more than what is in the film, whether it will be viewed as trailers or teasers, or further elements that aren't necessary to support the film. If you enjoy the film, there's a wealth of knowledge there to dig deeper".[citation needed]


  1. ^ After Years of Anticipation – Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll Teaser Trailer
  2. ^ Nicholl, Katie (September 11, 2010). "Rocker Rod comes home . . . to do the school run". Daily Mail. Mail Online. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ Anthony Silva talks to about Phantasmagoria and more
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b Phantasmagoria section on Official Wild Bunch Website; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  6. ^ (Spanish) Saavedra, David. Marilyn Manson: "Puedo vivir como quiera en mi mundo de vanidad", El Mundo, 16 November 2007 at; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  7. ^ Everyone Will Suffer Now, The Heirophant, 12 January 2008, archived at; last accessed May 9, 2010.
  8. ^ Wax, Alyse. Marilyn Manson Freaks Us Out at the Scream Awards, FEARnet, 20 October 2008 at; last accessed 22 October 2008.
  9. ^ Harris, Chris. Marilyn Manson Won't Let Scary Michael Chiklis Stop His Scary Films, MTV, 04 November 2005 at; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d Harris, Chris. Marilyn Manson Finds Creepy Soul Mate In "Wonderland" Author, MTV, 15 February 2006 at; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  11. ^ Carroll, Larry. Marilyn Manson's Film: Who Needs Special Effects When You Can Hire A Magician?, MTV, 30 June 2006 at; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  12. ^ Scaggs, Austin. Manson Making Movies, Rolling Stone, 15 July 2005 at; last accessed February 3, 2008.
  13. ^ McCabe, Joseph. Lily Cole on Marilyn Manson's "Phantasmagoria", FEARnet, 05 November 2009 at; last accessed November 7, 2009.
  14. ^ Anthony Silva. Anthony Silva talks to about Phantasmagoria and more, MansonWiki, 13 May 2010 at
  15. ^ Official Wild Bunch Website
  16. ^ a b "Dramatic New Scenes for Celebritarian Needs (archived by". MansonUSA (now defunct). 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  17. ^ Watch the Promo Trailer for Marilyn Manson's 'Phantasmagoria'
  18. ^ Cole's Violent Film Put On Indefinite Hold.