I have no problem with remakes or reboots. Sometimes a great story needs to be dusted off, trimmed up, fleshed out and spit 'n' shined. In fact, there are so many movies that could only benefit from being made in the 21st century. But today, I will be talking about a sort-of-sequel that will never be appreciated.
Return to Oz (1985)
Ah, one of those live action Disney movies that nobody knows about. How many there are of you. How many that will disintegrate in the Disney Vault... Return to Oz is a sequel to (wait for it!) 1939's The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland. It may seem like a strictly monetary move, making a sequel 46 years after the first film was released. It might seem naive to make a sequel to a bona-fucking-fide classic, too. But according to director Walter Murch, the film was never intended to be associated with the MGM musical. And to further his argument, L. Frank Baum wrote 13 sequels to Wizard, including The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, the basis of today's movie.
It begins in Kansas, six months after the cyclone swept young Dorothy Gale (Fairuza Balk) to the magical Land of Oz. Dorothy's Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) is concerned with her niece's subsequent insomnia and takes her to the office of Dr. Worley (Nicol Williamson). Before he can perform electroshock therapy on her, Dorothy escapes with the aid of a mysterious blonde girl (Emma Ridley). She wakes up in Oz, finding it in ruins. Dorothy soon learns from the evil Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh) that the Nome King (also by Nicol Williamson) raped the Emerald city of all its jewels and turned everyone to stone. Along with her new friends, talking chicken Billina (Denise Bryer), clockwork mechanical soldier Tik-Tok (Sean Barrett), wobbly and loving Jack Pumpkinhead (Brian Henson), and furniture Frankenstein The Gump (Lyle Conway), Dorothy sets out to rescue the Scarecrow and return Oz to its former brilliancy.
Return to Oz was not well received. Many criticized its dark and intense nature stating it was unsuitable for a young audience. So tell me, dear readers, when you were children would you be frightened by any of the following?
Well, I first watched Return to Oz when I was about four and I was just happy my favorite movie (at the time) was continuing. I didn't care about the lack of songs or munchkins or AWOL Lion, Tinman or Scarecrow. I understood that Oz was fucked up. The Nome King was evil and put a crazy woman in charge. Of course it was going to scary. If it was mildly unpleasant, Dorothy wouldn't have reason to rescue anybody. There would be no point in her returning to Oz in the first place. If you want to see your favorite characters live again, they need a reason and a conflict.
Before and after 1939's masterpiece, there have been sequels and remakes and re-imagingings of The Wizard of Oz. Since seventh grade I've been hoping for a proper remake of it, one that doesn't completely change everything but still pleases the populace. It's one thing when a crappy movie I like go unnoticed, but when one that is truly good gets shat on, it hurts a little.