Return to Oz (1985)

Return to Oz (1985)

Directed by: Walter Murch

Starring: Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh

So apparently Return to Oz is another one of those classic films from my generation that was supposed to cause horrific childhood scarring which I managed to miss, along with The Neverending Story. It was pretty neat.

Dorothy is back in Kansas, but her Auntie Em thinks that she’s insane because she won’t stop talking about Oz. She’s about to get electroshock therapy when she manages to escape, and floats down a river back to that magical and horrifying land, this time with a talking chicken in tow. She meets a wind-up soldier, a pumpkin-headed guy named Jack, and a flying cabinet with a trophy deer head that talks. She finds that the Emerald City has been destroyed and taken over by an evil guy made out of stone, and has to defeat him and his queen who decapitates women so she can wear their heads like hats. This movie’s a little weird.

Okay, it’s not just a little weird, it’s balls-punchingly insane. Every new thing you encounter in Oz is horrible in its own way, in stark comparison with the classic 1939 film. Which is fine. I actually liked that they didn’t even try to make another saccharine-sweet musical out of this, not just because of the content, but because it had been fifty years, and tastes had changed. Also, it manages to do the “dark Wizard of Oz” thing without shoving it in your face, and it’s still really a kids movie at heart. Is it too dark and bizarre for little kids? I have no idea. If you consider Labyrinth to be too dark, then yes, probably. I kinda wish I grew up with this movie added to the cool shit I liked when I was young, though. It probably would’ve made me want to read the books.

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