30 Times 'Return To Oz' Was The Most Potent Nightmare Fuel Imaginable
In 1985, nearly half a century after Dorothy Gale first sailed over the rainbow, a little movie called "Return to Oz" told the story of how she found her way back to the magical Land of Oz.
And if you saw it, you've probably been screaming ever since.
Despite being pegged as a whimsical family-friendly fantasy, "Return to Oz" is basically the most terrifying Disney movie ever made, with imagery so disturbing that it still haunts our nightmares thirty years later. Here, in honor of its anniversary, are all its creepiest moments.
If you were expecting whimsy, wonder, and musical numbers by munchkins, the first three sad, creepy minutes of the movie will make it abundantly clear how wrong you were.
Even before Dorothy returns to Oz, "Return to Oz" is kind of a bleak nightmare. Her family is struggling to make ends meet after the tornado destroyed their farm.
Dorothy's favorite chicken is going to be executed for not laying eggs.
And Auntie Em's sister has loaned them money to take Dorothy to Doctor Worley, who specializes in "electric healing treatments."
If you think "electric healing treatments" sounds suspiciously like barbaric, turn-of-the-century electroshock therapy... DING. You are correct.
The nurse looks like Maleficent's meaner, uglier sister.
And she steals Dorothy's lunch, and locks her in a bare cell with nothing but a comb, a pumpkin, and the overheard screams of all the brain-damaged patients they've got caged up down in the basement.
After all this, Dorothy's harrowing escape and near-drowning in a flooded river is actually the least frightening thing to happen so far.
Then, she's in Oz: a magical land where the rocks grow creepy faces and sneer at you when your back is turned.
The yellow brick road is in ruins.
The Emerald City looks like Rome, post-sacking.
And it's covered with ominous graffiti, to boot.
What's a wheeler, you ask? YEAH, ABOUT THAT.
This is your polite, midway reminder that this is a children's movie.
Would you like to develop a permanent, traumatic terror of shopping carts? Feel free to watch the entire scene.
Meanwhile, Dorothy escapes the Wheelers... only to end up trapped in a panic room with a run-down robot who has giant, limpid eyes like a carnivorous lantern fish. (He's a good guy, but still.)
And their next stop is the palace of Princess Mombi, who lives in a hall of mirrors and collects human heads as accessories.
The next fifteen minutes? Non-stop nightmare fuel, starting when Mombi puts on a head that looks like a mean Elizabeth Taylor...
And imprisons Dorothy in a room with this guy...
Forcing Dorothy to break out, and steal the Powder of Life from Mombi's original head...
At which point Mombi's headless body wakes up and starts chasing them...
While all the disembodied heads in their cases just scream, and scream, and scream.
Are you ready to stop screaming? TOO BAD. Here's the Gump.
But all of this is just a lead-up to their meeting with the actual villain, the Nome King.
Or should we say, queen? Ha! Ha! Okay no, but seriously, he stole Dorothy's shoes. HE'S A MONSTER.
A monster with a fetish for transforming human beings into objets d'art and displaying them in his own personal underground antiques roadshow of horrors.
And this is what he looks like when he's angry.
And these are his creepy friends.
And even though Dorothy defeats her adversary, here's the thing: We're not entirely sure this movie has a happy ending, seeing as how it ends with the Kingdom of Oz in the hands of a tween girl...
...And an obvious lunatic.
Happy anniversary, "Return to Oz." Here's to another thirty years of never sleeping again.