"Return to Oz"

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The Wizard of Oz (1939) was pretty good, right?  Catchy songs, ruby slippers, dancing munchkins, and Toto too.  So, with Return to Oz, you might logically expect more of the same only much lamer, maybe with subpar musical numbers and miscast actors-- kinda like Grease 2.  The reality is much, much worse.

To begin with, Dorothy, whose only remaining friend is her pet chicken, is considered insane.  So, she is prepped for electroshock therapy--a treatment, we learn, that has made other patients so psychotic that they have to be hidden in the basement of the hospital.  (Insert lifelong fear of doctors here.)  Luckily, our heroine escapes and, of course, returns to Oz.  There she finds the Emerald City in a state of destruction and decay, is intimidated by a gang of ruffians with wheels for hands, and learns to her horror that Scarecrow has been kidnapped by the Nome King, an evil rock formation.

Dorothy is then captured and imprisoned by the terrifying Mombi.  Remember how in the first film Dorothy asks "Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?"  Well, Mombi has an even easier solution if your frock doesn't match your complexion--just pop on a different head!  Yes, Mombi keeps a closet full of living decapitated heads that she can take on or off the top of her neck stump as suits her mood or eveningwear.  (I should pause here to say that a British friend of mine said that he always hated to hear his American friends refer to their mothers as "Mom" instead of "Mum" because it made him think of Mombi.  Shudder.)

Mombi has a powder that can bring anything to life, and she's Frankensteined up a creepy stick-man with a pumpkin for a head who calls Dorothy "Mom" (shudder).  Dorothy uses the powder to whip up a flying sofa machine with the decapitated head of a moose as its navigation system.  (Bringing severed heads to life is only bad if you're a bad guy, see.)  They fly to confront the Nome King, who turns her friends into ornaments one by one.  The Nome King is only defeated when Dorothy's chicken lays an egg into his open mouth (???) and Dorothy is able to go back to Kansas.  There, she finds that the hospital has burned down.

The viewer is left staring in slack-jawed horror, wondering whatever happened to "Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, and a couple of tra-la-las."

Lesson learned:
Evil rock formations are vegan?

Return to Oz.  Dir. Watler Murch.  Perf. Fairuza Balk, Nicol Williamson, Piper Laurie.  Disney, 1985.
Return to Oz
(see the trailer on YouTube here)

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