[NOTE: The screenshots that originally accompanied this post were recently deleted due to a dumbass mistake on my part. This is a shame because the captions don’t make a lot of sense without the context, but I’m leaving them anyway! I’ll see what I can do about getting them back…]
I recently read some review of the 1985 flick “Return to Oz” (can’t remember why) and noticed that people said it was kind of dark and bizarre, so I figured it might be worth a look. I didn’t notice that it was a Disney movie until it arrived from Netflix, but Critter and I watched it anyway. And oh, what a movie it was! Not exactly a “good” movie, but rather a strange attempt to smoosh two of the other Oz books together into a coherent story. I haven’t read the books (which are all readable online, by the way), but this movie doesn’t quite qualify as coherent. Most of the time we were asking each other questions like “What the hell is going on? What’s that thing doing? What’s wrong with her face?”
A couple of scenes were fairly dark and creepy for a kids’ movie (i.e., shock treatment and hall of heads), and I think it could have been more interesting if Disney had downplayed the cutesiness and given us more weirdness. But that’s just me. I did like the stop-motion animation on the talking rocks, though…that was kinda cool. The trailers were oh-so-awful, with Disney playing up the nostalgia like crazy: “Remember Dorothy…remember Toto…remember…….OZ!!” Yeah, yeah, yeah. We remember, all right — we remember ’em being much better than this!
Anyway, there were several things that left us shaking our heads, so I thought it would be fun to point out a few scenes which had us chortling pretty good.
The movie begins with Dorothy starting shock treatment therapy to erase the fantasyland of Oz from her lil’ noggin. Note the cute “face” on the machine behind her. Awww!
Dorothy and a friend escape from the mental institution, only to be caught in the rain and slide down a muddy embankment into the raging waters. I call this a “‘Poltergeist’ moment”, for those of you who remember what happens in that movie.
These guys called Wheelers roll around on all fours and terrorize Dorothy and her buddies. Up close, they’re ugly guys with spraypainted bald spots and bad makeup. Not so scary after all, hmmm?
Dorothy carries around a talking chicken for the entire movie. The animatronic chicken has the clucking voice of a funny old lady and often helps Dorothy out of danger. But she’s still a chicken. And Dorothy’s expression here is priceless!
In a moment reminiscent of one of the Narnia tales (“The Magician’s Nephew”), the evil queen “befriends” Dorothy and gives her a tour of her Hall of Heads.
The queen can swap heads as she pleases, keeping them all in glass cases where they stare creepily at Dorothy as she walks by. Nice touch. At one point they all started screaming at her as she ran by. Hopefully that gave kids nightmares!
Apparently she also doesn’t like chicken!
Um, mind the beak, please. (Sorry…we’re so adult.)
The talking moose head ends up driving the sleigh-thing that they fly around in, reminding me somewhat of “The Neverending Story.”
The Gnome King starts out as claymation stone, then transforms into a bearded guy with bad makeup. Maybe their effects budget ran out?
Oh, and he just loooooves Dorothy’s red slippers! Aren’t they gorgeous?? (OK, maybe this was in one of the books. Does anyone know?)
Oh my God. The walls opened up with claymation stone “hands” and the only thing I could think of was…Goatse. If you don’t know what that is, maybe it’s best you just move right along…
One of Dorothy’s new buddies is this tall, lanky pumpkin character named Jack. Look familiar? This movie came out well before “Nightmare Before Christmas,” so perhaps Tim Burton borrowed his character design from this. Or not. Something tells me that Burton can dream this kinda stuff up all on his own!
Not to be mean, but one thing we noticed is that certain angles and lighting are not very flattering to this actress. (One of us uttered the word “beastly”, but I won’t say who.)
Ack! This is when the words “ghoulish” and “Nosferatu” came out. Again, I no names…
Let’s not forget the dramatic falling-into-the-underworld scene, featuring plenty of bad bluescreen action. “Ahhhh, I’m faaaalallliiinngggg! Or just laying on a blue maaaaaaat!”
The scarecrow ends up being this freaky character who talks sorta like Goofy on drugs and moves like a drunk Michael Jackson (complete with white gloves). His face is frozen in this gaping, cartoonish smile, and when he talks, his mouth simply opens and closes like a bad sock puppet. And oh, his voice…it’s like a retarded Mickey Mouse.
Another shot of the Scarecrow. God, how irritating.
Her robot friend gets polished up. Is this C-3PO’s fat daddy?
Looks like the palace guards in Oz are into 80’s hair. Nice mullet!
Dorothy says goodbye to her bizarro friends once again.
Oh, look! Aslan even makes an appearance! Wait, it’s just the Cowardly Lion, appearing as an actual lion. Yay for cheesy puppet action!
Look at those expressions. That was pretty much our reaction too: incredulous disbelief and bleary-eyed vexation. (Except our eyes were a bit redder.)
Gotta love those 80’s-style credits!