Creepy Kids’ Movie: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

“Gather ’round and I’ll elucidate what goes on outside when it gets late…”

     Halloween is my favorite time of year and what could have been more appropriate than for me to look back at one of the scariest Disney movies (or shorts?) ever. Of course, I’m talking about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow - chase

     For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had some affection for Disney’s version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. What I like about it is that besides including some funny moments, Disney keeps the movie pretty intense once the horseman arrives. In fact, I would consider this cartoon a horror movie! Sure there are funny moments, as well as some musical numbers, and its… well… a Disney cartoon, but the movie is still pretty intense (for younger viewers). In fact, I would consider those later funny moments welcome releases to the scares and tension (similar to what you sometimes find in horror movies). Because it’s a cartoon, it’s still thought of as a kid’s movie (hence why I’m including it on my list of Creepy Kid’s Movies), but I think if it was remade as a shot-for-shot live-action movie today, the sensor board would not be giving it a “G” rating and might deem it too intense for children. Sure, the funny moments come more often then what you’d find in a horror movie, and are a little goofy, but the scary moments are still very effective (especially if you’re kid) and those moments leave a lasting impression with you.

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Return to Oz: Princess Mombi

Creepy Kids’ Movies #2 (con’t): Return to Oz:
Princess Mombi

Return to Oz_Mombi2

How do you top the Wicked Witch of the West, who many children say they were scared of? How about a princess who can remove her head and replace it with others in order to stay young? Princess Mombi is the most terrifying thing about Return to Oz. The viewer not only get’s to see Princess Mombi appear with different faces, but we also get to see her without any head at all. In addition, the princess tells Dorothy that she wants to keep her in a tower until she matures so that she can cut off Dorothy’s head and add it to her collection! If that wasn’t scary enough, the viewers (and Dorothy) are shown a room where the princess keeps all these heads! Surprisingly, that wasn’t even the scariest part. Continue reading

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…

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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:
Overview

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