Alright, perhaps the makers of the original Oz can be given the benefit of the doubt. They weren’t intentionally trying to curdle the child audience’s peace of mind. But what in blazes were the makers or “Return” thinking? Unflappable Fairuza Balk’s journey is unquestionably grim and horrific and there’s no musical reprieve in sight. Poor Dorothy is immediately sent to the nut-house for jabbering about her previous visit to Oz, these ramblings are diagnosed as delusional and intensive shock therapy is suggested. (Kudos to the madman who designed the shock machine because they were clever enough to make an atrocious happy face out of its dials and knobs.) Mother Nature again intervenes though this time she mixes things up by sending a deadly flash flood Dorothy’s way. Once returned to Oz, she finds her old friends turned to stone, an indescribably twisted marauding gang of thugs known as “wheelers” and an equally misanthropic Witch who collects decapitated heads like Imelda Marcos collected shoes. Her new pumpkin-headed pal Jack seems nice enough but not exactly the kind of figure you’d want tucking you into bed at night. Obviously great effort was made to duplicate the feel of the original L. Frank Baum book’s illustrations by W.W Denslow, and the results are gorgeous but undeniably creepy. Although considered a major misstep upon its release, “Return” has garnered much favor over the years. It may be one hell of a twisted vision but that just might be what makes it so unforgettable to its fans and perhaps one of the most underrated films of all time.
- Mombi’s screaming heads coming to life followed by her headless body
- The attack of the screeching, maniacally laughing wheelers.