Monsters & Mullets: Anastasia (1997)


I know I promised Ladyhawke last time! Alas, my DVD is region 1; it’s not on any of our streaming services (WTF?) and my new region 2 copy only just popped through the mail slot on Tuesday. So, because I mentioned Anastasia in a previous essay, I decided to indulge myself and run it through the M&M machine instead.

What even is this movie? The concept isn’t so far-feched, I guess; it’s certainly not the first Anastasia film ever made. But the execution. The decisions. The zombie wizard. The incredibly hot cartoon dude. I just don’t know. But I sure like it.

We open with some CG that looked a little suspect even in 1997. It’s a music box, and Angela Lansbury is narrating about how great life was in 1916, in Russia. Gorgeous palaces, big parties, fun fun fun! Yes, this is the first example of many of this film’s tenuous relationship to, you know, historical fact. But hell, Russia in 1916 was probably pretty fun if you were the Tsar’s mother.

So, we’re in the midst of a party, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Romanov family’s tenure on the throne, and Anastasia, about eight, runs up to Grandmama and hands her a drawing of one of her sisters. (Which is based on a real drawing by the real Anastasia, because that is 110% how this movie rolls.) Meanwhile, a kid who is clearly very much not on the official invite list runs around in the background eating an apple. Grandmama gives Anastasia the music box and the key to open it, which is engraved ‘together in Paris’. Grandma sings the music box song. Someone grabs the scruffy kid.

BUT PLOT. All of a sudden Rasputin dramas himself into the party, Maleficent-style. He curses Tsar Nicholas II and then… uh, sells his soul ‘for the power to destroy’ the Romanovs and, oh hey, THIS IS WHY THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION HAPPENED.

This movie sort of slides uneasily past hundreds of years of horrific living conditions for an entire country of people and instead, ‘the spark of unhappiness in our country’ is caused by…  little green monsters that Rasputin raises. There are some Communists later, and a joke about the colour red, but mostly this film just pretends that magic caused the Russian Revolution and let’s just not think about the rest of it.

Back to the palace. Everyone’s trying to flee but Anastasia has to run back to her room to grab her music box. Happily, scruffy kitchen boy helps Anastasia and her grandmother escape through a secret passage, even though she still leaves her music box behind. (The kid grabs it.) A white bat voiced by Hank Azaria narcs on them to Rasputin, who gives chase but falls through a hole in some ice, and the white bat is left with Rasputin’s magical glowing reliquary as Anastasia and Grandma run off. But… somehow, Grandma gets on a train and Anastasia doesn’t. She falls and hits her head and is knocked unconscious.

Somehow, we’re left to understand that the rest of Anastasia’s family is also dead, though its never explicitly stated.  ‘And my beloved Anastasia… I never saw her again,’ Grandma says sadly, as we zoom in on a portrait of the royal family. AND THEN we get JOYFUL HAPPY MUSICAL MUSIC as the title opens up before us. Because I guess we’re done with the sort of retelling of actual history (which is horrific and bloody) and moving on to the FUN HAPPY POST-REVOLUTION MUSICAL LOVE-STORY. With zombies!

We open by sweeping through snowy post-revolution Leningrad… I mean, St Petersburg, because that’s what it’s still called because Communism doesn’t exist in this film, and we’re about to get a giant happy dance number. Also it’s ten years later. So, everyone sings about how miserable their lives are but hey, they love gossip, and the best new gossip is that Anastasia is still alive. Oooh, just saw a Communist soldier on a horse. He looks mad. Probably because people are calling it St Petersburg. We follow an older guy with a cool hat as he runs around St Petersburg, and then… oh shit, the hottest cartoon guy this side of Li Shang from Mulan joins him. OH HAI THERE DIMITRI. They’re con-men and they sing about their con: they’re going to find a girl who looks like Anastasia, take her to Grandma in Paris, get the reward, and live happily somewhere besides Russia. Also Dimitri is the scruffy kitchen boy and he has Anastasia’s music box.

So, one of the things I really, really like about this utterly bonkers film is the fact that it delights in being an old-school musical, but an animated one. So the entire cast drops everything to sing and dance as the camera pans up and around the set, which is some proper old-school musical movie magic. In the 1990s, musicals like these simply didn’t exist. Not even Disney committed to the old fashioned musical spectacle the way this film does. This is a musical number in the most wonderful, insane sense of the word: it’s immense, it’s over the top, it involves everyone, and it’s absolutely hugely stupidly joyful.

This movie is so weird.

Anyway! We open up on an orphanage and meet our heroine, now an eighteen-year-old dressed in rags. Her name is Anya, and she has no memory of her past, we learn from Madam Mim, I mean, the Orphanage Lady. Anya’s voiced by Meg Ryan, America’s 1990s sweetheart (pace Julia Roberts). Anyway, her choice is: go work in a fish factory or strike out and find out what her pendant means. It reads ‘together in Paris’, you’ll recall, because it’s the key to the missing music box. She sings an ‘I Want’ song, meets a small dog named Pooka, and heads off to St Petersburg to buy a ticket to Paris. Along the way, she pulls off her hat and we’re introduced to one of this film’s enduring mysteries: Anya’s hair. Here it’s short, and in the second half of the film it’s waist-length, and I think it’s meant to be up in a messy knot in the first half of the film, but who the fuck knows.

Anya doesn’t know either!

I’ve already mentioned how old-school this film is in many ways; another way is this. It’s rotoscoped, which is an old-fashioned animation technique whereby actors are filmed doing what the animated characters are going to do, and then that film is traced over to create the animations. All the old studios did it, but Bluth (who cut his teeth at Disney, which is why his films all looks like 70s/80s Disney films) had a way of doing it that incorporated the smoothness of Disney animation with the almost uncanny naturalism of Ralph Bakshi’s films. Nowhere is that more beautifully on display than in this film, where the animated characters do strange, unnecessary little things that a human in a live-action film would do, but which are absolutely extraneous in an animated film, where literally every frame represents hours and dollars worth of work. Anya’s ‘I want’ song ends with her overlooking St Petersburg and giving a little hitch to her body as she concludes her final note; later, her hair will get caught on her necklace, or Dimitri will give a funny little shrug in his cape – these are things a human actor would do unthinkingly in a live-action film, but which rarely translate to the screen in animated films… except for this one.

Anya can’t buy a ticket to Paris because she doesn’t have an exit visa but, helpfully, the old lady in line behind her tells her to go talk to Dimitri at the palace. Cue Dimitri and Vladimir (voiced by John Cusack and Kelsey Grammer, btw), concluding their unsuccessful auditions for an Anastasia look-alike (say it with me: Grandma, it’s me. Anastasia.) and then returning to the palace. 

It’s the former Winter Palace, and it’s still full of valuables and furniture and stuff. Let’s not think too hard about that. Anya wanders around with a strange sense of déjà vu, and (because this is a musical) sings a song about her feelings, which leads to a lovely sequence where the art on the walls bursts into life and joins her on the dance floor. This was a really fun scene to see on the big screen.

Dimitri catches her, and then notices how much she looks like the child Anastasia, and he and Vladimir exchange some looks and wiggle their eyebrows at each other as Dimitri circles her, biting his thumb, which is weirdly, and I’m so sorry about this, super hot. Dimitri learns that Anya has no memory of her life before ten years ago, and convinces her that she might be Anastasia, and since they’re all going to Paris anyway… why not come along and meet the Grand Duchess and see if she’s actually Anastasia? Anya agrees and off they go, with forged papers.

Hello, boys.

MEANWHILE, Bartok the bat is in the palace next to Rasputin’s dusty reliquary. Which, the moment Anya agrees to go to Paris, starts glowing and trembling, and then like, crosses the boundary between life and death to go hang out with Rasputin in… Limbo. Which is an infinite green cave filled with tiny, uh, planets made of bones. Sure, why not.

And there’s Rasputin, but now he’s A ZOMBIE AND HIS PARTS FALL OFF. I’m not kidding; his eye pops out and his lips slide down his beard and it’s played for comedy, and then he starts singing a song about how much he hates the Romanovs, and is joined by a chorus of insects as his body literally disintegrates and reforms, and it’s so freaking weird, because he’s an evil wizard (in this movie) who set off an entire revolution that resulted in a lot of deaths and also the invention of Communism, I guess? But also he falls apart and has a chorus of singing, dancing bugs.

There is so much to unpack with zombie Rasputin, but let’s begin here: the film needed a villain, but also needed to conform to the Disney ideal of what a princess movie should be, so there had to be magic even though the film is set in the real world and features cameos by real historical figures in addition to the fact that a couple of its main characters are also real historical figures. Rasputin, who was pretty other-worldly to begin with, is a clear choice for the role of villain, but he also was killed in 1916 and this film takes place in 1926… so why not set it up so that he made a deal with Capital-E Evil (but not the devil because including overt references to Christianity – I mean, beyond limbo - is clearly a bridge too far for this film?) and became an evil wizard and is now a zombie in Limbo. But he has to fall apart and it has to be played for laughs because he’s basically infinitely powerful and there’s no other way to level the playing field between Rasputin and his infinite powers of darkness and a bunch of human characters in the real world. Also because it’s nominally a film for children and he can’t be too scary.

Back to our heroes. They’re on a train and Anya and Dimitri are sniping at each other, and Vladimir is keeping track of who gets one up on the other (Anya’s far ahead) and then teases Dimitri about his crush on Anya, because absolutely everyone in this film ships these two. They discover that their forged papers are no good (they used blue ink instead of red ink and ‘everything in this country is red’) and so have to go hide in the baggage compartment. Meanwhile, Rasputin has sent his magical green goblin minions to tear up the train tracks and kill everyone, but don’t worry; our heroes manage to detach the engine from the rest of the train, saving the other passengers, and hop off the engine before it explodes while falling into a bottomless chasm. Because of course.

‘So we’re walking to Paris?’ Anya wonders, as they hike though the snowy mountains. No, they’re walking to Germany and taking a boat to Paris. Another explanation for Anya’s hair is that the journey takes so much time that her hair grows from shoulder-length to waist-length, (which took me six years to achieve, fyi) but we’ll learn later that that is not the answer. As they walk, Vladimir and Dimitri teach Anya about ‘her’ family and history, and both get a little weirded out when she seems to know details they don’t. The text of the song – ‘if I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it’ – is interesting in that it tells us that Vlad and Dimitri also remade themselves at some point in their lives. We don’t know anything about Vlad, but we know Dimitri was a kitchen boy, and now he’s a pretty smooth con-man, so.

Hooray, Germany! Wonder how long that walk took them? Don’t worry; we’ll learn later on. On the boat, Dimitri gives Anya a dress, which she teases him about so mercilessly that he gets upset and humphs off. She puts it on, and it’s… not the same dress he gave her? Perhaps there was meant to be a scene where she altered it? Who knows. Anyway, her hair is down now so… yes, it did not grow out as they walked from Russia to Germany. Dimitri suddenly discovers that Anya is SUPER HOT because her hair’s down and she’s wearing a dress that fits, which: dude. But, whatever. They waltz (the sexiest dance, as we all know) as the sun sets (the sexiest time of day) and make mooney eyes at each other, which freaks them both out, so everyone goes to bed in a weird place. Except Vlad who ships them SO HARD.

Note: they’re not making out.

Pooka the dog finds the music box, and the camera spins around Anya as she wonders what it is. Meanwhile, Rasputin – remember him? The infinitely powerful zombie wizard who has a hard-on for murder? – sends his evil gremlins off to kill Anya by giving her a dream that makes her think she’s a little girl about to hop into a pond with her family, but actually she’s about to drown herself in the stormy seas. Ye gods. Dimitri wakes and saves her in the nick of time, which involves some babbling about the Romanov curse and a bit of hugging and weeping. Everyone is very confused, except Rasputin, who, despairing at his continued failure, twists his own neck until it’s three feet long, then drops his head down into his own damp rib-cage to moan about how unfair things are. No, really; that’s a thing that happens.

Rasputin decides to do the job himself, sprays himself with cologne (??) and shoots off to the… Earth (???) while making a joke about a train (???!??), reliquary and bat in tow, to go murder some girl with confusing hair.

Paris: we meet Sophie, played with maximum camp by Bernadette Peters, who is the Grand Duchess’ cousin (so I guess also Anya’s… second cousin? Or something?), and who is meant to screen all the Anastasia pretenders before sending them to the Grand Duchess but seems very easily gulled, since she apparently sends everyone through. The Grand Duchess finally decides she’s had enough and puts the kibosh on the whole affair: she’ll see no more Anastasias.

So our trio show up at Sophie’s door and Anya frets about whether Sophie will recognise her… and we learn that everything that’s happened has happened over the course of three days. WTF movie? Three weeks? Three months? Three ANYTHINGS is better than three goddamned days. They walked from Russia to Germany in the snow, FFS.

I’ve circled ‘St Petersburg’ and the German coast because this three days thing really gets my goat.

 They convince Sophie to meet Anya, even though the Grand Duchess won’t see her, and while Sophie’s testing her, Anya answers a question about how she escaped from the palace – a kitchen boy opened a panel in a wall – that finally makes Dimitri realise that she’s the real deal. Since he was the kitchen boy, and all. He tells Vlad and they cook up a scheme to get Anya in front of the Grand Duchess by taking her to the Russian ballet. Happily, Anya doesn’t have the clothes for the ballet, so Sophie takes them shopping. Hurrah! A shopping montage! With cameos by Freud, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, Charles Lindberg, Maurice Chevalier, Monet, Isadora Duncan and August Rodin… WTF is this MOVIE I mean FOR REAL who thought that was a good idea? Actually, why not? Freud slips on a banana peel, and we’ve already committed nearly 3000 words to this essay, so let’s take a brief aside here: Freud’s famous ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’ was adapted by an early episode of Saturday Night Live into ‘sometimes a banana is just a banana’ so it’s possible that this is a reference to that.

Also, as the song goes on, the ‘real’ Paris fades into an Impressionistic rendering echoing Monet or Degas, which is another weird choice, but totally works within the context of this extremely weird movie, zomg. Sophie keeps mashing Dimitri and Anya together, because EVERYONE SHIPS THEM.  The song includes a dance number that moves from the Moulin Rouge to the Arc de Triomphe  to THE TOP OF AN ELEVATOR AS IT’S ASCENDING THE EIFFEL GODDAMNED TOWER because of course it does because this movie is going to go there, no matter where there winds up being. The entire city has dropped everything and is dancing along with the song, I needn’t add.

Dimitri does some soul-searching about how he has to get Anya in front of the duchess because she’s really the real Anastasia, but this makes him sad because he has all the feels about her and has to give her up, or something. Salmon-pink and morose reflection look good on a dude, yo. He tells Vlad that Anya really is the princess, which he knows because he was the kitchen boy, and the way Vlad’s face lights up is so sweet, because for however weird it is, this film works hard to let you know that these characters all genuinely care about each other.

OMG just go make out already.

Here we are at the ballet! Dimitri once again does a double-take when he realises that Anya is incredibly hot. An aside; my wedding dress had a sheer cape thingie much like Anya’s dress, a detail that I didn’t clock until this rewatch. I mean, obviously capes are awesome, so of course I was going to decide on a dress that had a cape, but let’s pretend my subconscious just filed that shit away in 1997 and shuffled it to the front of the deck eleven years later, when I was in the market for some cool formalwear.

Right, ballet. Our boys look great in their tuxes, because this film cares about clothes in a wonderful way. Anya spends the entire first act of the performance twisting her programme into shreds – a detail that I, a lifelong nervous shredder of paper, appreciate – and then she and Dimitri woosh up to the royal box to meet the grand duchess. Alas, things do not go according to plan; she recongnises Dimitri as a con-man and outs him in Anya’s hearing, which results in Anya reading him the riot act and sweeping off. She also slaps him, which is one of my absolute least favourite tropes in the entire world of shitty clichés, but we’ll discuss that in some other, shorter essay. Also, he probably should have told her the truth ahead of time, but conflict has to come from somewhere if our zombie evil wizard isn’t around to manufacture it, right?

Dimitri, however, won’t take no for an answer and kidnaps the Grand Duchess to make her listen to him, eventually giving her the music box to prove his creds. Dude, LEAD WITH THE MUSIC BOX.

I paused on this frame when the baby started fussing and discovered that Grandmama’s expression is A MOOD. PS that is not a jar of pickles; it is a candle that looks like a jar of pickles.

So Anya and the Grand Duchess meet, and it all works out in the end because Anya has the key (her pendant) and the Grand Duchess has the music box, handed off to her by Dimitri. Dimitri watches from outside and does that cape-shrug thing I mentioned and happy endings for everyone except Dimitri!

Oh, hey, Rasputin is now in an abandoned clock tower (during a storm?) and decides to kill Anastasia at her big coming-out party, and his bat is like ‘wait, kill her?’ like Rasputin’s homicidal inclinations are news to him? Meanwhile, Anya and Grandmama are reminiscing over reproductions of real photographs and art from the real Romanovs because… why not? We transition to Anya in her princess dress, on the night of her big party.  Elsewhere, Grandmama (in her fucking awesome velvet gown) offers Dimitri his reward money, and he doesn’t take it, and when she asks him what he actually wants he makes some noise about how it’s nothing she can give him and then even SHE clocks the Dimitri/Anya thing and immediately ships it too. Dimitri runs into Anya while leaving, and she says something sharp about the reward money, and he doesn’t disabuse her of the idea that he took it, and that’s that.

We transition to Vlad and Pooka prepping for the party while wearing Russian courtly outfits. The dog is wearing a crown and a sword, because Tsarist Russia was the OG OTT and Grandmama clearly misses it. Vlad hilariously takes a medal off the dog and pins it to himself. I see what Sophie likes about him. We learn that Dimitri is going back to Russia, like why Dimitri, you hate it there and worked really hard to leave it; that is insaneballs. Vlad’s all ‘dude, go talk to her’ but this is a movie that is absolutely committed to its contrivances, so no, he’s going to go galumping back off to dreary Communist Russia with no money and no girl. I get it; he likes drama. No wonder I dig him.

In other doubts, Anya has them too! Grandmama is like ‘he’s not there’ as Anya pretends she has no idea what she’s talking about, and then Grandmama is all HE DIDN’T TAKE THE MONEY OMG JUST GO MAKE OUT WITH HIS DUMB SEXY FACE, but instead Anya has to go wander around outside and think about things. Happily for us – unhappily for her, in the short run – that’s the moment Rasputin makes his reappearance. Meanwhile, Dimitri is having second second thoughts and decides to come back and I don’t know, finally tell Anya the truth? Rasputin appears before Anya in a cloud of thorns and smoke, in an entirely deserted Paris, on a bridge I should know the name of but don’t because I don’t know anything about Paris. It’s probably the Pont Alexandre III, because it looks the sameish and was named after Alexander III. Also, per Wikipedia, it ‘widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in the city.’ So that seems about right.

Anya remembers who he is as Rasputin ices over the bridge, or something.  And then his green gremlins attack her and the bat is finally like man, this is too much and leaves. Rasputin breaks the bridge to dump Anya into the river, but Dimitri shows up in time to keep her from falling in. Rasputin magics him to the back of a winged horse statue, which comes to life in dodgy CG and attacks him. Dimitri fights the GIANT STONE HORSE THAT CAN FLY with a piece of rebar and gets knocked out, but points for effort. Rasputin tries to push Anya into the river himself, but she tackles him and wrestles the reliquary off him. It rolls away. Pooka grabs it and Anya smashes it with her heeled shoe. Love it.

Rasputin dies in a puff of smoke – I mean, he’s already dead? He dies more? He dies for real? His soul is banished to the great beyond? Who cares. Anya rushes over Dimitri to try to protect him from the still-collapsing bridge, but he’s out cold. He’s not dead, though, because this isn’t that kind of movie, yo. She does accidentally smack him in the face with joy when he wakes up, though, because this is that kind of movie. They have a movie conversation that’s all ‘I thought…’ ‘I tried…’ which whatever. JUST MAKE OUT. They nearly kiss but then Dimitri gives her the crown because this film is going to make us wait until literally the last freaking minute for them to just mash their faces together like any two sane people would have done seventeen times before now.

Still not making out.

Fortunately, Anya is done with boys who can’t talk about their feelings and she sends the crown back to grandmamma and they elope in their ripped up filthy clothes and go dancing on a boat and FINALLY FUCKING MAKE OUT and the entire world sighs in relief. And then even the bat gets a girlfriend. She’s pink, for some reason.

Hahaha, we all know the reason: because this film answers every WTF with WTFN: WHY THE FUCK NOT. The bats kiss, and that’s the end!

Yay, kissing!

I first saw this film when it came out, December of 1997, with my then-boyfriend. He was bemused but moved on with his life pretty quickly. I, meanwhile, could actually feel myself shuffling it away into the pounding, flashing library card-catalogue that is my brain under the subheading ‘things about which I will become quietly and unaccountably obsessed’ as we walked out of the movie theatre. Because, however, I was 18 and hadn’t quite made peace with my taste in pop culture, I kept that obsession under wraps for a long, long time. It honestly wasn’t until I joined Tumblr in 2007 and discovered, by accident, that I was not alone in my weird feelings, that I finally came out of the Anastasia fangirl closet. (Thank you, Tumblr.)

So why do I love this movie so passionately? Let’s start at the beginning. I love animation, and this is pretty much the last great animated musical to come out of the Disney Renaissance (which had petered out earlier anyway). It delights me that it’s not a Disney film but by Don Bluth, who left Disney in 1979 because he was so frustrated by the direction he felt the company was going. I’m glad he didn’t stick around for the Little Mermaid, because I suspect that film’s success would have made Disney force Bluth to stifle his weirder impulses, and because his leaving gave us An American Tale, one of the greatest animated films of all time. (It’s about the Russian Jewish immigrant experience! With mice!) Also The Secret of NIMH, which is also with mice, and insaneballs.

And I love Bluth’s style of animation. Freed from Disney’s penny-pinching constraints (Disney films from the 70s and early 80s look janky because they were made on the serious cheap), Bluth and his studio were able to make animated films that looked and felt big. And while Disney used rotoscoping to animate their films, Bluth’s rotoscoping simply feels different – as I mentioned above, he wouldn’t smooth out odd little human moments in the filming/animating process, even when doing so would have cost him less money.

But this film in particular? It shouldn’t work. It’s a crazy idea, to take the Anastasia story and turn it into an animated princess movie meant to feel like a big 60s studio musical shoved through the Disney Princess filter, but with a talking bat and a zombie wizard. Who lives on a planet made of bones in Limbo with a chorus of singing, dancing bugs. Honestly, every time I type it out I have to laugh at its epic WTFNess. But it does work, and I’ll tell you why. This film is committed to itself. Can we go there? It asks. Yes we can, it answers, and does, again and again. It is a huge, ridiculous, over the top glorious mess, and it knows it and embraces itself.

And then there’s the human stuff: the main characters are all well-rounded, and all have something they want. But even more importantly, they all like each other. They tease each other, they look out for each other, and they have each other’s backs.

The film also does something Disney still shies away from, with one important exception (Mulan): it shows its characters objectifying each other. We get several shots of Dimitri being taken by surprise at how attractive Anastasia is, but the camera also cheerfully objectifies the fuck out of Dimitri, glories in Sophie’s curves, and generally delights in the human aspect of its spectacle. The characters touch each other, grab each other’s arms, flirt with each other, react to each other in a very human – and occasionally very sexual – way. It’s so cool.

And finally: this is a film that is made with love. No where is that more apparent than in the film’s devotion to costume changes – the reason you don’t see a lot of costume changes in animation is that animators have to create a guide to how a character moves in every costume, and that’s time-consuming and expensive. But someone decided that this film needed lots of clothes, and the film delivers, and then asks you to take as much delight in those costumes as it does. The same is true for hairstyles, which require guides the way clothes do. Yet Anya sports at least ten hairstyles. Even Dimitri gets more than one: messy, not messy and behatted. Every hairstyle, every costume you see in this film represents time and money and, I would argue, love because they don’t need to be there, and animation fans know that characters wear the same clothes and have the same hair through an entire film because that’s the way animation is, so they’d have accepted it here without thinking twice about it. But that’s not good enough for Anastasia. And I’m so glad for that.

I’ve spilled a lot of electronic ink over this film, but really you could skip all of it and just go look at this Tumblr post, which I did not make, because it covers pretty much all the ground I’ve covered but in ten Powerpoint slides.

Next time: Ladyhawke, for real! Let’s see how a very different film tackles magic in a real historical setting.

Monsters: Rasputin the zombie and some green goblin thingies, and a giant stone flying horse statue that comes to life. And singing bugs and two bats. Bats aren’t monsters, yes, but we haven’t got much to run with otherwise.

Mullets: We’ve discussed Anya’s hair but we haven’t even begun to touch on Dimitri’s CLASSIC 90s haircut. I don’t know what it was called. It was kind of mushroomy on top? Think Jonathan Taylor Thomas. This haircut was CRAZY popular in the 90s but did it even have a name? Or did dudes simply walk into a barbershop and say ‘give me that haircut that isn’t a flattop’? Dudes, please tell me how you told barbers to cut your hair in the 90s, because it is a mystery to me. And then there’s Vlad’s haircut, which because he’s the sweet overweight father-figure, has a bizarre pouf on top.

Hookers, Victims and Doormats: Anya is actually a legitimately good female character, and has a bit more spirit (and wit) than many of the 90s Disney heroines. I’m sorry there aren’t more major female characters in the film, but it’s not for nothing that the other two are an older woman and a younger, very curvy woman, whose curves are portrayed as sexy and attractive rather than for laughs.

Remake watch: So, um, someone turned this into a live-action Broadway musical in 2016 and it’s somehow still running, because somehow I am (so relieved to learn that I am) not the only person unaccountably obsessed with this crazypants trashfire gorgeous mess. You’d better believe that I’m going to go see it the next time I’m in NYC, if, fingers firmly crossed, it’s still running.

Thanks for reading! Tell me about your 90s haircut on Twitter @thefingersofgod