If you are between the ages of 25 and 32, you should know about Return to Oz. It’s a 1985 sequel to the Wizard of Oz. Well, I mean, it involves similar characters, but it’s not exactly a sequel. In fact, it’s more like the original book series by L. Frank Baum—just as creepy, and no one ever breaks into song.
It takes place six months after Dorothy has returned from Oz, and everyone thinks she’s nuts. Yellow brick road? Scarecrows that talk? A woman with GREEN SKIN? Come on, Dorothy, snap out of it. Her aunt and uncle decide it’s time for her to seek help, so they take her to a creepy med clinic to get shock treatment. (No kidding. I couldn’t make this stuff up.) Anyway, she escapes this creepy place and magically, ends up back in Oz. But it’s not the Oz she remembers. Something is wrong. The Emerald City has been laid to waste. All Dorothy’s friends are missing, and there’s talk of some evil dude called The Gnome King. Being who she is, Ms. Dorothy must, of course, figure things out, save Oz, and save herself.
The plot line in itself doesn’t sound too creepy—beyond the shock treatments. And it’s not the plot that makes this movie so screwed up and NOT child friendly. Instead, it is the side characters. For instance, there’s Queen Mombi. She steals the heads of pretty, young women; keeps them in glass cases; and wears them in place of her own head. Example two would be the Wheelers. I just saw Legion, and I wondered what it was about the ice cream man with the disproportionately long arms and legs that freaked me out so much. Then, I watched Return to Oz, and I remembered—the Legion character made me flash back on the Return to Oz Wheelers from my childhood—psychotic creatures with wheels for hands and feet, who hunt Dorothy through the dilapidated Emerald City. Add to all this Fairuza Balk—yeah, that creepy chick from The Craft—because she plays Dorothy! ACK!
Am I bashing this film? Hell no. I love this movie! Even as an adult, it still makes me feel like going “oogy-boogy” and covering my eyes. I am just surprised when I look back and consider the movies I got away with watching as a little kid, just because they were dubbed “Family” in the movie store. Movies like The Never-ending Story, The Dark Crystal, and The Labyrinth (I mean, David Bowie’s spandex-clad package alone should have been X-rated). I’ve watched each of these films as an adult, and in certain scenes, I just have to gawk because I can’t believe kids’ movies were so cool when I was young. Today, it seems like kids’ movies have to be uber-friendly. They have to be happy and cheerful and ick-ick-ick. How lucky we are, 25 to 32 year-old folk, for the way we were raised—with no cell phones, no internet, and plenty of politically incorrect films about shock treatments and Wheelers!
(Then again, the question remains: do I blame Return to Oz for the way I am today? Or do I thank it?)
Have a good weekend, everyone.