Return to Oz: The Wheelers, the Nome King and changes to OZ

Creepy Kids’ Movies #2 (con’t): Return to Oz:
The Wheelers, the Nome King and changes to OZ

Before I first saw Return to Oz as a kid, I only knew three things: it wasn’t a musical (which I was ok with), it was made by Disney and some members of the Jim Henson Company (which I both loved!), and that it looked very different then The Wizard to Oz. Once it started, I disturbed by the insane asylum beginning, but I was still going with it because once Dorothy got to Oz, everything has to be better. I mean remember how colorful and fun Oz was in the last movie, even when it was a little scary? So, things had to get better once Dorothy got to Oz… right? Even if I didn’t get the hint from the asylum scenes, I should have suspected something when Dorothy’s balloon landed in a desert that can kill you… but she was with a talking chicken, so, really, how bad could the rest of the movie be… then gets to Emerald City…


Oh My God! Dorothy arrives at Emerald City only to find it destroyed, and the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion are turned to stone! PLUS, Oz no longer seems to have the lush colors it had in The Wizard of Oz (an issue Disney would later get right in Oz the Great and Powerful.) It’s as if the makers of Return to Oz said, “Remember everything and everyone you loved in The Wizard of Oz movie? Well, it’s all gone! They’re all dead!” Now, I had previously seen the original Clash of the Titans and vividly remembered the Medusa scene, so what I knew was that once someone turns to stone, there’s no turning them back. (It turns out, I was wrong, but it was pretty traumatizing at first!)

Image     If all that wasn’t enough, the Wheelers arrive! These guys are creepy as hell! They wore these frightening helmets with faces in them, spoke in a creepy, high-pitched voice, and proceed to chase Dorothy around the city. Looking back on it, I don’t know why I was so afraid of them… I mean they have wheels for hands and feet. What could they have really done if they had actually caught Dorothy? Well, I believe at the time, I thought maybe the Wheelers were the ones who turned everyone to stone, so I was afraid of them making contact with Dorothy!

Image     The movie continues the theme of turning people into inanimate objects later in the movie when Dorothy and friends meet the Nome King. However, this time, instead of turning people into statues, he turns them into trinkets in an over-sized “treasure” room. The Nome King disturbed me because he would look at Dorothy with these confident, uncaring eyes as he sent Dorothy’s friends one at a time into another room/cave, never to be seen again, before sending Dorothy in next. It turns out each person was turned into knick-knacks after making incorrect guesses inside the other room. The whole scene disturbed me so much that for weeks after seeing this movie, I wandered around my house picking green items and saying, “Oz!” (Similar to how Dorothy tries to turn her friends back to normal.)

Image     The only thing that should have been reassuring is that the Scarecrow returns in this movie for a little bit, but he looks very different. Whereas the in The Wizard of Oz, Scarecrow looks very human, he looks very different in Return to Oz. This time, the moviemakers make him look a little more like a large puppet. As a result, his unblinking eyes would just stare at everyone, making the overall affect quite unsettling, rather than reassuring.

So, with the inclusion of an insane asylum (complete with shock therapy), a creepier Scarecrow, people turning to stone or knick-knacks, and the Wheelers, it is clear to see why I’ve included this movie on my list of Creepy Kids’ Movies. However, the creepiest, part of the movie I have yet to address. So… more to come!

Return to Oz 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray


Return to Oz: Overview

Creepy Kids’ Movie #2: Return to Oz:

I picture someone pitching the story of this movie like this…

‘Kids generally love the The Wizard of Oz, so I think a sequel would be a perfect fit for the Walt Disney Company… PLUS, we’re going to have a script written by Lawrence Kasden, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark… AND we’re going to have the Oz creatures created by the Jim Henson Company… you know, the guy behind the Muppets! Sounds great, right?

‘But wait… let me tell you about the movie… Ok, so it’s a few years after the events of the first movie… Dorothy is now home and telling everyone about her adventures, so everyone thinks she’s crazy. So, of course they lock her up in an old insane asylum, where they want to give her shock therapy. As the doctors are about to flip the switch to shoot electricity into Dorothy’s brain, the lights go out… and then the fantastic adventure begins!

‘I know what you’re thinking, “an insane asylum and shock therapy? Isn’t that a little intense for a kid’s movie?” But don’t worry, another little girl rescues Dorothy and they both escape the hospital. However, in the process, they both fall into a river during a severe storm and the other girl disappears under the water, never to be seen again. Did she drown? Was she only in Dorothy’s mind? We don’t know. Then Dorothy wakes up in Oz… But of course when she gets there, she finds out that the yellow brick road has been torn up, the Emerald City is destroyed and all her friends from the last movie have been turned to stone. Sounds like fun, right? Seeing people and places that kids love destroyed won’t traumatize them, right?

‘So now Dorothy has to go on an adventure with new friends, but instead of having people dressed up (like the last movie), we’ll have creatures designed by the Jim Henson Company to give them that unreal, slightly creepy feel. This new group would then confront this insane gang called “The Wheelers”, an evil ruler called the “Goblin King” and a new “witch” who can remove her head and replace it with other heads. (I can even picture a scene where all the heads come to life as Dorothy is chased by the witch’s headless body!) Sounds great, right? Kids will love it!

‘The best part is the entire time you’re watching the movie, you’re thinking, “Is this really happening or did the electric shock work and everything is just in Dorothy’s mind as she sits drooling in a corner of the insane asylum!” Now if all this doesn’t sound like a fun kid’s movie, I don’t what is!

‘So what do you think, Mr. Disney Chairman? —Great! Where do we sign!’

Return to Oz 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Tunnel of Terror

Creepy Kids’ Movie #1  (con’t): Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
Tunnel of Terror

I’m not sure what to say about this. In the middle of the movie, Wonka and his guests board a boat and proceed on a small trip that goes through a tunnel that is absolutely terrifying. At first it seems that a little out of control, but then it becomes completely crazy! Images of bugs, eyeballs, Slugworth and other disturbing images flash on the tunnel walls… and to make matters worse, Wonka appears completely insane! He starts by quietly reciting a poem that grows into a shout, all the while appearing to love the fact that his guests are losing their minds! (Just look at the reaction of Veruca Salt’s father. He even starts to repeat what Wonka is saying!) This scene is completely crazy and tells the viewer that Wonka is insane and probably shouldn’t be trusted.

What I don’t understand is why the guests don’t immediately leave the factory as soon as they get off the boat? I mean, do they remember that crazy boat ride? Is a lifetime supply of chocolate really worth dealing with a guy that may enjoy seeing each kid die?

Next post for Creepy Kids Movies will be a different film. So, this should be it for my review of scenes from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory… for now.

So, “good day, sir.”

“I said, GOOD DAY!”

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Slugworth

Creepy Kids’ Movie #1 (con’t): Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:

Do I really need to say anything about this character?!?! Just look at this guy! Slugworth is just creepy. I’m not sure if it’s the way he looks or the way he talks, but he just comes across as really scary. PLUS, he kind of reminds me of the bad buy from Raiders of the Lost Ark that burns his hand on the medallion and ends up getting his face melted off. Maybe it’s the fact that they are both men with glass, a creepy voice and appear to be Nazis. – Of course, Slugworth isn’t a Nazi, as far as we know, but it’s definitely implied that he is when Charlie first runs into him. Thus, Slugworth is instantly feared. It doesn’t help that his image appears in the tunnel scene.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: First Child Harmed

Creepy Kids’ Movie #1 (con’t): Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
Augustus Gloop (the first kill):

augustusUpon the first entrance of Willy Wonka, he pretends to have a limp and falls over, only to bounce up with a smile. So pretending to be handicapped is his idea of “funny.” From this moment the audience knows that there is something “off” about Wonka and that he can’t be trusted. However, the horrific realization that Wonka might actually be sadistic and crazy comes during the first stop on the tour, a room where “anything and everything” is edible… everything, that is, except the delicious chocolate river!

Sure, we’re told that Augustus Gloop is a selfish slop, but he doesn’t really do anything wrong at the factory. You might argue that Augustus drank from the chocolate river when he was told not to, but Wonka actually never warns anyone about the river until he spots Augustus drinking from it. THEN, he races toward Augustus, yelling at him not to drink from the river. One can actually argued that by doing this, Wonka causes Augustus to fall into it! What makes this scene especially disturbing is that Wonka does nothing but watch as Augustus appears to struggling for air under the chocolate while he’s being pulled toward a pipe.

Now, in the 2005 remake, Augustus swirls around the pipe above water… err… chocolate… before becoming stuck in the pipe. Then the oompa-loompas come out while he’s still stuck in the pipe and sing, “Augustus Gloop will not be harmed.” Augustus even bobs his head to the song, as if he’s enjoying it, making the whole incident seem not so bad. While in the 1971 musical version, Augustus disappears under the chocolate until he appears stuck in the pipe, gasping for air and yelling for help. He is then pushed up into some sort of mixer, which appears to be full of chocolate, NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN. The oompa-loopas only then come out and sing a sing basically about how bad Augustus was and how he got what he deserved. Who would have thought a Tim Burton movie would actually be less creepy than a musical made in the 70s!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory