The Horror Honeys: Honey Switch Month: Return to Oz

Honey Switch Month: Return to Oz

A Honey Switch Month Head Honey Review by Lisa

Return to Oz (1985)

Wrapping up Disney’s decade of trying to induce nightmares in children was Return to Oz. Desperate to make a film out of the Oz books that they owned the rights to before they ended up in public domain, Disney partnered up with Walter Murch. Murch had been interested in doing an Oz story, so it was a natural decision for him to write and direct this sequel of sorts.  Based on the second and third novels in the Oz series, Return to Oz is a pretty faithful adaptation that is a strange, creepy and visually wonderful mind trip.

Starring Fairuza Balk, the story takes place after Dorothy has returned home from the Emerald City and she is now viewed as an insomniac suffering from an overactive imagination. After her Aunt Em leaves her at a mental hospital for some electro shock therapy, Dorothy escapes during a thunderstorm and wakes up back in Oz. With her chicken Billina, who can now talk in Oz, the two will battle a host of baddies  as they try to rescue her friend, Scarecrow. Happily, they will also make some new friends along the way.

Watching the film as an adult is an entirely different experience than watching it at the age of 9.


Child                                                                         Adult
The Wheelers are really scary and caused                The Wheelers look like Steampunk refugees
nightmares for months.                                              from Burning Man.

Princess Mombi’s Hall of Heads is as terrifying       Still pretty creepy.
as Medusa in The Clash of the Titans.    

Tik Tok is a kind and courageous soldier. I’d like    Tik Tok has a strange, dry sense of humor.
one of my own, please.                                              I’d like one of my own, please.

The Nome King is not nice, does not play fair         The Nome King is a shady bitch who does
and he kind of scares me.                                          not wear those ruby slippers with the same
                                                                                   panache as Dorothy. Also, his game
                                                                                   is not fair.

Billina is hilarious. I wish I had a talking                  Billina is a sassy tart and I’d like to have
chicken.                                                                      a glass of wine with her.

This is freaky shit. 
Despite only having memories of the fear that it caused me as a child, Return to Oz holds up surprisingly well. Clearly, a lot of money was spent on the film and, though it was a box office dud, it did receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. In fact, this movie succeeded where a lot of children’s films do not. You can view it at a young age and immerse yourself in the world and completely identify with the protagonist. As an adult, it’s totally believable that Dorothy Gale may, in fact, be suffering from mental illness, but her adventure is interesting and she has some very funny friends with her. I find myself surprised and delighted to say that not only does this movie hold up, but is even better with age. Mine, of course.

Shady bitch.