How in the hell did this movie not only take about 45 years to get around but also combine horror, fantasy, while still retaining a family film feeling brought to you by Disney?
Return To Oz, a dark, deranged, and yet very entertaining and good film. It kinda takes a semi-sequel approach to the 1939 classic, but Dorothy is a small girl like in the book. So it's been a few months since the tornado hit Kansas and Dorothy has been telling people and constantly talking about Oz, to the point where her aunt and uncle send her to a psychiatric hospital. This is where the dark and gloomy setting begins. It's a dark house, with thunder and rain, and even the sounds of screams faintly heard. Jesus. But it gets worse! Dorothy gets One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest treatment, with a intimidating nurse, and the poor girl gets electroshock treatment. After a bad storm she arrives in Oz, but the creepy mood does not end there. The yellow brick road is torn asunder, the Emerald City is in ruins, and the citizens have been turned to stone. After that, it's really one creepy threat after another. I mean seriously, in the last movie the only real threat beyond the Wicked Witch of course, was those jerk trees that threw apples at Dorothy and her friends. Here, mother of mercy we got the Wheelers these odd cackling almost gang members with wheels for hands and feet, Mombi the ruler of Oz who has a chamber full of different decapitated heads, and The Nome King who has been destroying the beauty of Oz and making it a dark and dreary place. Ever since Dorothy got to the mental hospital, you get this unnerving, quiet discomfort and it only builds once we get to Oz. The film does such good stuff with this creepy and scary material, to the point where I was horrified and my body was recoiling from the screen (yes, it was THAT scene)! The film does such good work, the sets and designs of the new characters are great with my personal favorite being Jack Pumpkinhead. Oh yeah, they bring up Halloween so it does kinda fit that time of the year. The acting especially from Fairuza Balk holds the movie together and even parents could not dismiss this movie as just another kids movie. They probably just freak out as much as the kids do. But the film does not go overboard and will not traumatize your kid, it hits with the creepy and sometimes downright horrifying imagery done with fantastic stop motion animation, but I believe kids can look beyond that and be brave to get through those brief scenes and enjoy the movie. As I think parents can enjoy the movie, whether you are nostalgic about it or not. You know what, I just realized something. The film has this Something Wicked This Way Comes atmosphere and mood for a good portion of the film, from the hospital to the first couple of scenes in Oz, to Mombi's chambers, to The Nome King's palace. Oh, it really gets under your skin! I'm so happy to have seen this movie, and I urge people to find these sort of cult sequels to popular films, you can find true gems! Not every sequel is bad, you merely must be brave enough to explore.