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You don't fool with Mother Nature, spit into the wind, remakeCasablanca, or trash the land of Oz. Perhaps that is why the 1985 live-action sequel split critics and audiences alike. The 1939 classic musical is so beloved that it's almost impossible to imagine seeing Dorothy in shock therapy, a crumbled yellow brick road, the ruins of Emerald City, and the Tin Man turned into stone. But L. Frank Baum, the author of the originalOzbooks, portrayed just that with his continuing stories of Dorothy. When you get by these tough facts, the film version is solid entertainment for the over-7 set.

Dorothy (a 10-year-old Fairuza Balk in her debut) is back in Kansas, where Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) is at the end of her rope: her niece is not sleeping and going on about a place called Oz. Therapy may be the answer, but luckily the scary clinic goes dark before Dorothy can be, er, cured (but the lead-up will scare the munchkins out of most kids). She wakes up in the land of Oz, now in tatters, and searches for its king, the Scarecrow. A new set of friends, including a tin soldier, a talking chicken, and a pumpkin man, help her against new villains, including Princess Mombi (Jean Marsh)--complete with a set of detachable heads--and the evil Nome King (Nicol Williamson with a great assist from Will Vinton's Claymation). The sole directorial effort of Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch is stuffed with marvelous effects that foreshadow later works by Tim Burton and the Henson non-Muppet films. --Doug Thomas

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Details

CastJean Marsh, Piper Laurie, Matt Clark, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk
DirectorWalter Murch
Genre:  Family, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date:  June 21, 1985
MPAA Rating:  PG
Screen WriterGill Dennis, L. Frank Baum, Walter Murch
Runtime:  113 minutes
Studio:  Starz / Anchor Bay
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review by . August 17, 2009
   Return to Oz (1985) was an interesting film. The film-makers return to the Emerald City after an almost fifty year hiatus. Poor Dorothy is shaken up over her last visit and longs to go back. But her ramblings frighten her family and others. So she is sent to a sanatorium for "treatment".  Inside she's subjected to a frightening nurse and a cold hearted doctor who wants to start her treatment right away.  But a freak electrical storm and a mysterious child whisks …
review by . February 24, 2001
posted in Movie Hype
One of the best films of all time, Disney's sequel to THE WIZARD OF OZ is a scary, deliciously malevolent story of a huge scale.Fairuza Balk, in her film debut, plays Dorothy, who is still troubled from her last trip to Oz, losing sleep and driving Aunt Em (Piper Laurie) and Uncle Henry (Matt Clark) to distraction.A sadistic doctor, Worley (Nicol Williamson), and a ghostly assistant (Jean Marsh), say they will "cure" the girl with a machine. They really are going to use electro-shock therapy on …
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