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Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – April 10, 2014

Brandon's Blu-ray Wishlist THUMBToday we’re off to see the Wizard…again…

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Return To Oz wishlist

Return To Oz (1985)

Remember how fun the classic 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz was?  The joyous occasion and celebration it’s spent a legacy awing film audiences and young children every year.  All those wonderful, fun songs we know by heart.  All the pleasant charismatic cast of characters that fill the screen with such luscious happiness.  The film that just puts a warmth in your heart every time you watch it.  Hey kids…look!  46 years later, here’s your sequel/follow up!  And Disney is at the helm!  This is going to make for a fun Saturday afternoon at the movies!  Hooray! Popcorn and candy for everyone!

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Then imagine when you open the door to your theater’s auditorium that Satan himself is standing right there and takes his big red fist and punches you hard (as hell) right square the nose.  I think that’s about the right comparison to what happened to audiences in 1985 when Return To Oz debuted on the big screen.  They thought they were in for another happy, magical adventure and instead got a dark, grueling tale that probably was not suitable for children.  While many argue the film is a closer match to the book series than the original film, it is STILL a much more grisly affair.

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Let’s just have a look at what this film entails.  Kansas isn’t the charming Midwest area it once was.  It doesn’t look like some Golden-Age set.  It’s now the real deal without a glossy aesthetic.  Dorothy’s wonderful “Aunty Em Aunty Em” puts her in an institution because she believes she’s delusional about Oz.  In this institution she gets put through ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY…AND we have to sit and watch it happen!  Everything gets cheery though once she gets back to Oz though, right?  NOPE!  When she arrives Oz has been massacred and everyone is turned to stone and she’s chased by these creepy as hell things called “Wheelers” that have wheels for hands and feet and faces and demeanors sure to give nightmares to even the hardest of hard asses.  But she’s got some cute and fun friends to help her along, right?  NOPE.  Toto’s gone, replaced by a talking chicken!  A fucking due with a creepy giant Jack-O-Lantern for a head and a little copper robot guy that doesn’t really scream fun.  Don’t worry though, our villain is the scary ass Mombi who is able to take her head off and find a new head in a trophy room she has full of living heads.  Lets top that off with the Nome King who is some creepy rock creature and you have a hell of a fun kids film!

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Yeah, this did not take with audiences.  I remember seeing it as a kid and being incredible freaked the hell out.  All the creatures and such frightened the hell out of me.  The movie is so creepy it was almost a challenge to get through the whole thing for fear it might just keep getting scarier.  It’s not the happy reunion film you’d think a film called Return To Oz might be.  And for those of you who will argue its merely a book adaptation and not a follow up to the 1939 film, Disney went out of their way to secure rights from MGM to include the ruby red slippers in order to tie it to the film.  This film became somewhat of a legend for my generation in middle-high school, saying “hey do you guys remember Return to Oz” and then sharing our own personal horror stories of watching it.  It also then at the time became hard to find at video stores and the like.

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I’ve returned to the film every now and then throughout my movie-watching life.  And it STILL gives me the willies.  Some of these creatures and subject matter is just unsettling.  And it’s hard for me to believe with this subject matter it’s a PG film.  It’s not a great film, but I really do think it’s an enjoyable one for an older crowd.  It’s got some terrific creatures and effectively works as a Grimm Fairytale version of Oz.  I’d say the film is very ahead of its time too.  I could easily see this tone and vision being the kind of movie 95% of producers out there would be after to make in a modern Oz film.  Oz The Great And Powerful wasn’t one of them, but I think most would take a Dark Knight approach and Snow White and The Huntsman-it and this film is already pretty much there.  It’s also not on Blu-ray which is why we’re here.  It’s Disney’s film and I’m really surprised they didn’t bring this one out during Sam Raimi’s film’s run.  It’s a film that’s begging to be rediscovered by a new audience and one that may have not known it existed since it was pretty much panned and hoped to be forgotten back in the day.  It’s not bad, its just a really dark follow-up to a super cheery legendary film.  I’d love to see this film in its original intended display (color correction, etc) and in super detailed high definition Blu-ray.  I want to see every detail as to why those damn wheelers creep me the hell out!

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

3 Responses to “Brandon’s Blu-ray Wishlist – April 10, 2014”


  1. Brian White

    Thanks to life I am getting kind of a late start on my required WSB reading from yesterday, but I can honestly say once again never seen this one either 🙁 I suck!

  2. Brandon Peters

    You know what…there’s a small chance you might enjoy this one, Brian. Whether or not you find it a good movie is one thing, but I think you’d definitely be a fan of the tone and the horrors the film has.

  3. Eric Flapjack Ashley

    Some of the stills from this movie look frightening enough – almost like a Pan’s Labrynth-style of creepiness to them. Why would anyone thing this would be appropriate for children? It’s not even appropriate for some easily frightened adults! haha