Directed by: Walter Murch
Starring: Fairuza Balk, Jean Marsh
"Your Majesty! SHE has returned to Oz!"
Fuck The Wizard of Oz!..............there, i said it, words that people gasp and raise their arms in horror over.............fuck The Wizard of Oz!. "How could you?", some of you may be saying?, i'll tell you how i could!. Wizard of Oz is a bore fest, a very nicely acted, very nicely filmed bore fest, but a bore fest nonetheless. As a kid, i tried to watch it, i could never get through it all. As an adult, same problem. The movie just DOESN'T click with me at all. I've tried and tried, and it just ain't gonna happen. What did click with me though was the 1985 sequel, Return To Oz, i'll tell you why.......
In Return To Oz, Dorothy [Fairuza Balk] comes back from Oz and can't stop talking about the other world she visited. Her family think she's nuts, so they admit her to a mental ward, hoping that electro shock therapy will cure her of her "crazy ways". Dorothy's stay at the hospital is short lived, when she is suddenly pulled back into Oz, as she tries to escape from her new zap happy home. As Dorothy ventures into Oz once again, she soon realized, Oz ain't what it used to be. In fact, Oz is completely fucked up. No more singing midgets, no more sweet skipping around townsfolk, and no more shiny yellow brick road. Oz is scary, Oz has new evil inhabitants, and soon Dorothy finds out that she's gonna need some balls to live past a day in this "new" place. Bitch doesn't need a little dog, bitch needs a gun!.
As well as trying to stay alive, Dorothy makes some new friends in Oz. A pumpkin head man, a moose mounted on a wooden trunk [don't ask, it's confusing i know], a new fatter tin man, and a talking chicken. As you can see, Oz has become a bit freaky.
Ok, forget everything you knew about the old Oz movie. That was a film that gave children rainbow dreams and gumdrop smiles. 'Return' however gave most kids NIGHTMARES. I was one of those kids!. Seeing Dorothy get chased down by hunchback men with elongated legs and arms, wheels where their hands and feet should be, and hideously creepy voices, caused all sorts of ghastly imagery in my mind. These scary fucks were called 'Wheelers'. Ask ANYONE who's seen this movie about what stood out the most, and they'll most definitely say "the fucking wheelers!". The creep factor doesn't stop there. There's also an evil Queen who lives in Oz named Mombi [Jean Marsh]. At first she's all lovely and sweet, but soon Dorothy realizes that Mombi actually likes to COLLECT PEOPLES HEADS and store them in glass cabinets in her castle. Not only does she store them, but she REMOVES HER OWN HEAD and wears the others depending on how she feels that day. This bitch is seriously messed up!. There's one scene where Dorothy tries to escape Mombi's castle, and finds herself IN the "Head Room". There's womens heads lined up all along the walls, when they hear Dorothy IN the room, they all OPEN their eyes and glare down at her!. Honestly, what kind of sick fuck makes shit like this for kids?
Upon it's release, it didn't do too well. It flopped at the box office, and parents found it to be "too disturbing" for children. Funnily enough, 'Return' is much closer in tone with the actual Oz book series the films were based on. The books themselves [which i haven't read] do have a more darker streak to them, which was completely thrown out the window for the 1940's original.
I make the movie sound like it's a horror fest, it really isn't, it won't creep you out as an adult, it's just got a few eerily wacky qualities about it that play on a child's imagination a lot more. I don't know how many times i've heard grown adults say, "my God that movie freaked me out as a kid". It really was trippy.
Oddly enough, it's these twisted and freaky additions to the sequel, that made it so much more memorable than the dull original. All i remember from movie 1 was a whole bunch of singing. In 'Return', i had the Oz scared into me, and it had a much more profound effect on my mind. As an adult, obviously i don't find it scary anymore. It's still got that "wacky creepy" factor though. Aside from a much darker storyline, the rest of the movie still stands strong as a good childrens fantasy film. I can watch it today and still get a kick out of it, not only because it's well made, but also for nostalgic reasons.
You don't need to see the original Oz to understand this movie. Most people have a fair understanding of what Oz and Dorothy's previous adventure was all about anyway. This is the type of kids movie that would appeal to someone who likes their fairy tales a little more on the "interesting" side. Should you show it to kids? it won't cause any serious damage, but i wouldn't be surprised if a kid does get a little uncomfortable about some of the characters. Lord knows me and many others did.