If the technicolor classic "The Wizard of Oz" was your first and only trip to the distant land that lies somewhere over the rainbow, you could be forgiven for thinking that Oz was a magical, candy-coated place full of naught but whimsical scenery, talking trees and a thriving population of small-statured people whose most pressing daily concern is remembering the steps to their choreographed dance with an enormous lollipop (and watching the skies for the occasional threat of wicked witches or flying monkeys). And with so much intense buzz surrounding the soon-to-be-released "Oz the Great and Powerful" (in theaters March 8!), you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was the first time since 1939 that the land of Oz had been given an outing on the big screen.
But you'd be wrong, my friend. So very, very wrong. Because in 1985, Dorothy Gale returned to Oz, in a movie so odd, dark and outright terrifying that Disney has more or less preferred in the ensuing decades to pretend that it never existed. The film is "Return to Oz," and it's a cinematic adaptation of two other L. Frank Baum original stories—one that stays far more true to its source material's more macabre and dangerous elements than the musical classic that made Oz famous. And in honor of Oz's return to theaters tomorrow, we're highlighting the creepiest moments from "Return to Oz" in this nightmare-inducing listicle.
1. Dorothy is officially diagnosed "cuckoo."
Where Dorothy's trip to the land of Oz was treated as a mere dream in the original, "Return to Oz" finds her convinced that it was actually real—a fact that's so disturbing to her Uncle Henry and Auntie Em that they send her to an asylum to receive electroshock therapy.
2. Medical malpractice abounds.
After being tied to a bed and wired to the electroshock machine, Dorothy is about to be zapped...when a thunderstorm knocks out the power to the asylum. In the ensuing silence, the sound of screaming and moaning can be heard echoing down the halls—the cries of patients who've been damaged by the treatment and are now locked away in the basement.
hills rocks have eyes.
After escaping the asylum and tumbling into a river, Dorothy drifts all the way to Oz—where her arrival is witnessed by sentient rocks with creepy claymation features.
4. The Wheelers. OH GOD, THE WHEELERS.
Dorothy arrives at the Emerald City to find it in ruins, its citizens all turned to stone and its walls scrawled with graffiti that reads, "BEWARE THE WHEELERS." And with good goddamn reason, because the Wheelers are malevolent mutant psychopaths on wheels, literally, and if you can watch that clip without peeing your pants you're a stronger man than I, my friend.
5. "I believe Number Four should do for this afternoon."
After connecting with a mechanical ally in the destroyed Emerald City, Dorothy seeks answers from Mombi, a beautiful princess whose vast wardrobe includes two dozen different heads for every occasion.
6. Dorothy retrieves the Powder of Life...
...and wakes up Mombi's original head in the process, at which point this happens.
7. Those shoes are to die for.
After escaping on a makeshift flying machine with the reanimated head of a Gump (it's like a moose), Dorothy discovers the root of all her problems: a greedy, cross-dressing Nome King who's using her stolen ruby slippers to rule the land of Oz. (The only thing creepier than the Nome King himself? The way he simpers at and sasses Dorothy as he reveals that he's wearing a pair of glittery ladies' shoes.)
8. The Antiques Roadshow... from hell.
In the final, climactic scene, Dorothy is given three chances to locate her missing friends, who have been transformed by the Nome King into various objects within a giant hall of knick-knacks. Each time she guesses incorrectly, the King's booming voice issues from the ceiling to inform her of her imminent demise. It's enough to give even the stoutest-hearted adventurer a permanent terror of tchotchkes.