Mr Horatio Knibbles was always going to be an edgy project as Dahl knew, distancing himself by penning the original story under the pseudonym Wally Bosco. It was a one-off co-production between Anglia and the Children's Film Foundation. Funding had become increasingly hard to come by as the Tales of the Unexpected series drew on and the scenarios became darker and more disturbing, but this unlikely union refused to compromise the vision of the author and remained true to his twisted creation.
Originally titled 'Sting in the Fluffy Tail', the plot, such as it is, tells the story of how a young girl's unhappy puberty at her bourgeois parents idyllic Surrey mansion leads to bestial fantasy, experiments with psychotropic drugs and mental collapse.
Knibbles, a terrifying presence as a seven-foot mangy mutant rabbit, is the psychic projection of buck-toothed Mary (Robin Gibb), her psychological id let loose to exact revenge on her comfortable middle class existence.
Many of the most harrowing scenes involving a peyote initiation ceremony, vegetable dildos (flagrantly stolen for Thundercrack) and the sexual abuse of several farmyard animals, were cut following a successful prosecution by Malcolm Muggeridge. The resulting film was only 3 minutes long.
In this scene gamekeeper Freddie Jones is pistol-whipped before having a shotgun inserted into his rear end and forcibly given a smoking enema.
The episode culminates in an underage bacchanalian orgy in which bizarre rites are enacted to summon spirits to cleanse Mary's tortured psyche and finally exorcise the malign Knibbles.
|"Roll out the barrel" (or possibly scraping it...)|
The episode took a heavy toll on all concerned, in particular Robin Gibb, whose heavy drug abuse and transgender character immersion was so complete that it took many years of therapy before he could work with rabbits again. He remained emotionally scarred by the experience until his death last year.
Happy Easter folks. Don't have nightmares.