Cinema Sunday’s year of frightfully entertaining family films opens with the movie that inspired our series: Return to Oz, Walter Murch’s 1985 cult classic. Veering sharply away from the well-known 1939 musical fantasy with Judy Garland, this take on L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz is unsettling and occasionally terrifying. It’s six months after the famous tornado, and Dorothy (a young Fairuza Balk) is still muttering about ruby slippers and a fantastical land of talking animals and magical witches. Aunt Em, convinced that her niece is deranged, sends Dorothy for some new-fangled “electric healing.” Dorothy escapes and is mysteriously returned to Oz, where the yellow brick road is in ruins, an evil Gnome King has taken over Emerald City — and Dorothy must try to save Oz all over again! In his sole directorial effort to date, Murch’s Oscar-winning talents as a sound designer and film editor (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient) are put to good use. Those who saw the film as children still vividly recall its wildly imaginative (and creepy) sights and sounds - including the weird Wheelers and sinister Princess Mombi and her hall of interchangeable heads! Return to Oz frightened us, but it also expanded our notion of what a movie could be. Colour, DVD. 110 mins.
Please Note: Frightening scenes may scare younger viewers.
"Bleak, creepy, and occasionally terrifying."Chicago Reader | full review