Return to Oz - Freakiest movie ever?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Pancake, Sep 20, 2002.

  1. Jason Pancake

    Jason Pancake Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know what made me think of this movie today but everytime I do I get goosebumps. I mean just damn... talking pumpkin head, killer chicken eggs, the nome king, wacky robot thing, talking moose head, and the gallery of heads!

    I'm 25 so when this movie came out I was pretty young and it had quite an impact on me. My wife hasn't seen it yet so I can't wait to find it and freak her out too. I'm curious to hear about other peoples' experiences with the movie.

    -JPancake
     
  2. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    If you're talking about how freaky "Return to Oz" is, you can't leave Fairuza Balk out of the discussion.
     
  3. Jason Pancake

    Jason Pancake Stunt Coordinator

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    How could I forget?!?! I can't believe I forgot to mention her. She added so much to that movie. She played a dark Dorothy very well!

    I think it was in her eyes. That's what it was about her in that movie that just made me feel that much more uncomfortable.

    -JPancake
     
  4. Bo Myers

    Bo Myers Auditioning

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    I remember seeing pics of the "Wheelers" in Starlog magazine when I was 11 or 12. Man, talk about good old-fashioned nightmare fuel! I don't think I've ever seen this on home video in any form, and at the time it cost something like $50 million (adjusted for inflation: ungodly); I'm sure a few execs lost their jobs over this film.

    P.S. Fairuza Balk is hot in a terrifying way.
     
  5. Jason Pancake

    Jason Pancake Stunt Coordinator

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  6. Michael St. Clair

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    'Eraserhead'? El Topo'?

    'Return to Oz' is so far from freaky it isn't even funny!
     
  7. Esten

    Esten Supporting Actor

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    The DVD is non-anamorphic,but don't let that stop you.It's a fantastic film.IMO better than 'The Wizard Of Oz'
     
  8. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Yes, the wheelers are quite freaky. And that Mountain king. shudder.
     
  9. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I haven't seen the film, but what you describe are all things straight out of the Oz books (that followed the original). Having read those books, but not having seen Return to Oz, I can only say that they don't sound any freakier than singing munchkins, talking scarecrows, living axe-wielders built out of tin, melting witches, flying monkeys, etc. [​IMG]
     
  10. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Return to Oz is one of the best fantasy films ever made. It perfectly captured the world of L. Frank Baum and was a unique experience. It's a shame that it wasn't a box office success, though that was due to Disney "dumping" the film during its release. It was green-lit by the old regime at Disney, but when Eisner & co. came in, virtually everything their predecessors worked on was "dumped" (a theatrical term that means the movie was given playdates in less-desirable theatres, TV advertising was cut back, talk-show and interview promotions were canceled at the last minute). They didn't want it to be a success - so it wasn't.

    Anchor Bay's DVD is nice, but it's a shame that it doesn't have an anamorphic transfer. This is a title that deserves a special edition reissue.
     
  11. BrianShort

    BrianShort Supporting Actor

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    I'm going to have to give this movie another chance, since I think I'd appriceate it a lot more. The last time I saw this, I must have been like 9 years old, and I hated it. I guess I expected something more like the original Oz, and it wasn't.

    Brian
     
  12. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    Trust me george, Return To Oz has a very freaky tone to it and I've thought this way ever since I was about 6 years old. That's not a bad thing, because Return To Oz is awesome.
     
  13. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    OOOOH! One of my favorite films! Yes it is freaky (not *the* freakiest, I think that was just a figure of speech) but brilliant in its use of color, sound (duh!), sets, costumes, makeup and acting. (I say duh, in case someone doesn't know, because Walter Murch, the famous sound man/editor, directed it).
    George, you're right, this was based very closely on the books.
    I think the bad (bad? try SCATHING) reviews it got came from one or two sources (or both):
    It's dark. It's VERY dark. It's not a movie for small children or for people who prefer their fantasy movies light and uplifting.
    It DARED to use the name "Oz" (never mind that it was far more faithful to the L. Frank Baum books than The Wizard of Oz) and it was perceived to be a remake or a direct sequel. It's certainly not a remake. It's only a "sequel" in that the events happen after Dorothy returns from her first trip to Oz. Usually, "sequel" implies that it will look and feel the same as the first movie, but Return to Oz throws away everything about the first movie except the fact that Dorothy had gone to Oz, and that there's a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion (though they look completely different than the first movie's characters, and don't really figure into the plot much). I liked Siskel, and I'm a fan of Ebert's writing, but I have never forgiven them for leading the charge of contemptuous reviews.
    Saying that Return to Oz is "better" than The Wizard of Oz is dicey. For one thing, it makes Wizard fans very defensive. Wizard is a classic that deserves all the praise and love it's gotten over the years. I grew up with it, saw it every year on TV (in the days before video, that was the one movie we could always count on being shown once a year), I loved it. I love it still. However, I prefer Return to Oz and I prefer Fairuza Balk's Dorothy.
    Peter, thanks for the information about Disney dumping this title. I agree that it deserves a Special Edition DVD. I think someday it will attain its deserved (IMO) classic status. I hope it comes before Walter Murch buys the farm. He never directed another movie, and film lovers are poorer for it.
    I was in New York when this opened at Radio City Music Hall, so someone at Disney was trying. I was there on business though and couldn't see it until I went back home. I fell in love with it, indeed, it became an all-time favorite upon the first viewing. My husband and a friend had already seen and loved it while I was in NY (bastards!) and when it was over they looked at me for my reaction. I said "I want to see it again" and they knew, this movie would be a shared bond between the three of us. When it came out on video, we bought it (and yes, it was FREAKING EXPENSIVE!) and borrowed a projector and screen to watch it on. Our first home theater experience. That was the life for us!
     
  14. Michael St. Clair

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    Anybody who has read and appreciated the original OZ books knows that Judy Garland is not Dorothy Gale. Nope!
    The fourth film version of the first novel featured Judy Garland and defined what 'OZ' is to most people.
    When I was little I loved 'The Wizard of Oz', but after I saw it 2 or 3 times, I read most of the books and found I liked them much better than the 1939 film, which had become a sort of bastardization of the story in my mind.
    'Return' is very true to the original books.
    I still like the 1939 film.
     
  15. Thi Them

    Thi Them Producer

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    This movie really scared me when I saw it in an elementary school class. I remember having freaky images stuck in my mind for a long time. The only thing I remember now is something about heads.

    ~T
     
  16. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    I found a (slightly cluttered) Return To Oz site with some good images, so the links in my random thoughts are from there.
     
  17. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Great random thoughts, Vickie. Thanks for the links to that site as well.

    I only knew of Walter Murch prior to RtO from his work with George Lucas on American Graffiti and F.F. Coppola on The Conversation and Apocalypse Now. When I read that he was directing the movie, I thought that was a strange choice. But, after seeing the film, it's obvious that he was an insprired choice. I know he ran into production problems in England while making the film - and Coppola and Lucas had to lend a hand. I've never been able to find out anything about their involvement. I'm guessing that it was studio problems with Disney's new regime and their uncertainty over a first-time director. My bet (purely a guess) is that they went there at the behest of Murch to be able to say to Disney that the film has back-up support from a couple of high-powered directors, in case he ran into trouble.

    I think it's a great film for kids - my 7-year-old son loves it and has watched it numerous times. {'Proud Dad' mode on} He got into reading all of the Baum Oz books (by himself, mind you!) because of it, which, to me, is remarkable for a kid! {'Proud Dad' mode off}

    It may be time for a double feature tonight or tomorrow - 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Return to Oz...
     
  18. JessV

    JessV Agent

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    I haven't seen this since I was pretty young and hardly remember anything about it. I've been reading the books though (I've finished the first five). Had Princess Ozma been raised as a boy in the movie?
     
  19. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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  20. MikeRS

    MikeRS Screenwriter

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    Wow, George doesn't just TELL stories about Honor, Loyalty, and friendship. [​IMG]
    MURCH:......Anyway, on top of all that, the studio was so unhappy with the material that they were seeing, and the fact that we were falling behind schedule, that after five weeks they fired me off the film.
    INTERVIEWER:That I didn't know.
    MURCH:Yes. I only got back on board because George Lucas, who's a friend, heard about what happened and flew to England from Japan, where he was at the time. He met with me and looked at what I had shot, then met with the Disney executives and said “No, this is going to be great, you guys just have to be more patient with this process, let's see what can be done to facilitate it.” And he guaranteed the rest of the production—he said that if something else happened, he would step in and take control. That was enough to make the executives at Disney feel more confident about what was going on, and I was back directing again after a few days. It was a fantastic act of generosity and commitment on his part.
     

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