Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Return to Oz (1985)


How can I forget one of my favorite Disney movies of all time?!??! what? What?

Most people have no idea that Dorothy returns to Oz. Many, many times. I believe there are about 30 or 40 books in the series. Only the first fifteen were written by the original author L. Frank Baum.

I LOVED this series when I was young, I believe elementary school age. I hadn't grasped the notion of chronological order so the sequence was off from what I remember. It didn't really matter. The stories were awesome. Just like the "Neverending story" book, these stories were dark. Very dark. And damn do I love my dark stories.

I haven't read the series since but I do remember the plot from the movie were similar to the novel. I have no idea from which one and which order but it doesn't really matter.

In "Return to Oz", Dorothy is having difficulty coming to grasps on reality and the world of Oz (wouldn't you, too?). She begins to have nightmares and becomes withdrawn. Her concerned aunt and uncle enroll her in a psychiatric program that touts a surefire method to cure Dorothy of her problems. It's a mental hospital during the early 19th century. It's shock therapy.

Luckily Dorothy is helped by a fellow patient and runs away during fiery rainstorm. At one point she falls into a raging river. She manages to climb about a wooden crate and falls asleep with exhaustion.

She wakes up washed upon a shore and a talking chicken. As she ventures deeper into land, Dorothy realizes that she has just came from Oz. But Oz has changed dramatically since she last left it.

While Dorothy has been gone, the Gnome King has found her slippers. The King has then used the power to destroy the land. For some reason I can't remember, the scarecrow has also been kidnapped.

Along her journey, she is allied with a creature with a pumpkin for a head, the lion, the scarecrow, a mechanical being named Tik-Tok. And a bed that an fly with a magical moose head.

Oh yeah, this Disney movie is warped, dark, twisted, and weird. My favorite kind of movie.

I haven't seen in a long time since my VHS copy was ruined. I remember being frightened at some parts, excited during the action sequences, and just in general awe.

Fairuza Balk played the role of Dorothy. That is too weird! Balk was later known to play one of the teen witched in " The Craft".I guess she kept the dark roles going.

I'm pleased to see that the costume design for the tin man and the lion were more close to the novel than the "Wizard of Oz". "Wizard of Oz" had some beautiful scenary and a talented cast but it did stray way off the descriptions from the book. As much as I loved hearing Judy Garland's voice, trying to believe that she was a young girl of about 12-14 years of age was a bit of a stretch.


It was weird that Disney made this movie. Disney made alot of dark movies during the seventies and the eighties. "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was in '85. I think "Escape from Witch Mountain" was in '70 something. Gimme more darkness Disney!!!!

I still love this movie and it's on the top for my DVD wish list. It's a completely different style from "Wizard of Oz" done in 1939. "Return to OZ" isn't cut, shiny, or full of songs. It's gritty, dark, and full of adventure. I love both movies for their own reasons. I wish Disney continued to make more but I bet people were just turned off by the difference in style and not understanding that it was a series.

2 comments:

The Movie Snob said...

I am right with you on this one. I remember the wheelers scaring the hell out of me as a kid and loving it. Such a departure from the Wizard in 39.

Great write up!

Rachel [ f.g.i. ] said...

OMG!! I used to watched this all the time! Princess Momby scared the crap out of me with those severed heads! What a great movie! I'm so pleased to see someone take the time to write about it :)