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Monday, January 31, 2011

Freak Out!: Return to Oz Edition

When I was a kid, I got freaked out by a lot of things. Join me as delve into these moments and see if I still think they still freak me out.
So you baby monsters may not remember this, but before Blu-Rays there were DVD's, before that VCR's and before there was appointment television! You couldn't record something on TV and watch it later, you had to watch it when it happened, which means if your Model-T broke down on a trip to the chemists to purchase some tooth powder, then you were shit out of luck on watching your programs that night.
I bring this up because when I was a kid in these dark times, each year one of the three networks used to show the Wizard of Oz and it was A BIG DEAL! You couldn't just pick up a copy of the movie and watch it anytime willy nilly, you had to wait until TV told you it was on. Then, it was a madcap thrill ride in TECHNICOLOR!
This is a round about way of saying for kids in the 80's, the Wizard of Oz was a big deal. The fine folks at Disney recognized this and ask the children of the '80's "You want more Wizard of Oz?!?!" The Children of the '80's yelled back "No, doy!!!" The Disney Execs shouted "OK! But were gonna scare the ever loving Ecto-Cooler out of you in trade!"
Thus, Return to Oz was born:
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Disney Exec #1: How are we going to do an Oz sequel without most of the characters from the first movie, since they are owned by MGM.
Disney Exec #2: Umm.. we'll kill them off for most of the film and bring them back to life at the end. Done and done. In the meantime, I've got a great idea for some new characters. They have razor sharp wheels on their hands and feet and combine the best parts of the Baseball Furies, The Joker and the tears of a childhood dying. After seeing these guys, no kid will ever miss the munchkins. Either because of all the fun they're having or because they are too busy shitting their pants in fear. I'm banking on joy!
Disney Exec #1: Can we use the wicked witch?
Disney Exec #2: Nope. But I've though of something better. You know how the wicked witch had one head? Well our witch will have many... that she can take on and off... and she'll keep her disembodied heads in glass cases... where they can wake up... and scream at Dorothy and at the audience of kids by proxy. Oh! And we'll have the headless body launch itself at Dorothy. Man, the children won't ever think about the candy colored dream that was the Wizard of Oz the same way again!
Disney Exec #1: Ohhhhh, baby! We are going to buy so much coke after this movie hits!
Does it still freak me out:
I recently rewatched this movie and I still can't believe they ever thought kids would be able to handle it, especially compared to the 1939 movie. I just touched upon two of the scenes that used to put the chill in me as a kid, but you could honestly just pick a minute at random and be faced with a multitude of horrors. I mean, for fuck sake, they cast Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. The creepiest one in The Craft. An actress so unsettling, they recast her role in the Sopranos mid run and reshot her scenes!
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Does it still freak me out? Honestly, a little. I guess some people are made of sterner stuff. Me. I guess I'm the kind of guy who finds disembodied heads screaming at a little girl just a little unsettling.


  1. Speaking of The Sopranos, I was rewatching some of the older episodes, and imagine my surprise when I found that Agent Ciccerone's husband was played by none other than comedy's Will Arnett! Exciting news, I'm sure.

  2. didn't she get back to OZ because she was in a mental hospital and escaped by jumping in a river? how weird was the "new" scarecrow with a pumpkin for a head (yeah never scary to children) who kept calling dorthy mom?
    also freaky: the dark crystal with the skeksis(sp?) and willow when they get changed into pigs.
    happy sleeping!

  3. Weird! I totally forgot about this movie until you posted this! Now I'll have nightmares! Thanks FLW!!!!

  4. I loved this movie as a child, but I've always enjoyed freaky things.

  5. You ain't lyin'! This is some creepy-ass shit.