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I love the shit out of this recap. My friend, Pons Maar, played the Lead Wheeler/doctor assistant. What’s burned in my mind from childhood was The Wheeler’s whimpering and promises to “behaaaave” while laughing his way home. Pons also provided the movements for the claymation-animators to animate The Nome Messenger, which got him the gig of providing movements and the voice of Domino’s Pizza’s classic character, The Noid. From there, he was one of the Dinosaurs from the Jim Henson show.

Oh! And you may enjoy this episode of Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ discussing the absolute fucking queerness of this movie, and just how goddamn *drag* the Nome King is:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/midnight-mass/id1571382053?i=1000640407031

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Oh god yes!! This movie is lodged so deep inside my childhood brain it’s hard to tell where that brain stops and the movie begins. I love it so much! Two fun trivia things I learned as an adult:

The director, Walter Murch, was primarily a sound designer and this is the one movie he ever directed. That made SO MUCH SENSE when I learned it because so many of my strongest memories of RTO are sound-based: Dorothy combing the pumpkin, the swooshing of the Gump’s palm fronds, Princess Mombi playing that lute or whatever when we first meet her…

For the overall set design, Murch was deeply influenced by the book Wisconsin Death Trip which is an extremely fucked up reference for a kids’ movie. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Death_Trip

w👑a👑l👑t👑e👑r m💓u💓r💓c💓h

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Ahh so glad you did this. I could recite this movie start to finish! The visceral memories are so delicious: the sound of Tik-Tok's feet as he walks, the crusty Oz key and the glamorous red key, the ripe lunch pail fruit with an apple core in the middle and a ham sandwich wrapped in white paper!? Give it all to me!!

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Holy cow I love this so much!!! Jean Marsh is my QUEEN (ditto Fairuza Balk obv)! Question for the group: On which adult rewatch did everyone realize all the other actresses playing Mombi had their voices dubbed with hers? Also, one time in the 90s I was a wheeler for Halloween! Not saying that makes me the Kwisatz Haderach of baby gays, but probably it does? (Additionally also: When Evil Nurse is like “SO!” I think it’s meant to imply that she knows the ghost girl, knows she’s Ozma, thus implying a connection between her and Mombi? Maybe hint that they’re the same person? Obv unclear, muddled, no internal logic, but I think that’s meant to be the vibe?) BAH! I could go on and on and on! Lindy, if you write a book length essay on the Oz books I will personally buy the fuck out of it!

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Gah! Also the music! God! The music!

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Ozama: "A witch with no powers is a miserable creature indeed."

Jean Marsh (being absolutely iconic): "And that's a FACT!"

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Omg, I love knowing that you were a lil Oz freak, too. I definitely read all of those books as a kid. Ozma of Oz was my fave for obvious reasons. I found my hardcover collection a few years ago and made my partner read the first two aloud with me at bedtime and, wow, they are so weird, and also not well-written? Couldn’t convince him to read the third one, but I’m gonna try again in preparation for watching this movie. I didn’t know about it as a kid for some reason, and have never seen it! Now that you have approved it as an Oz fan, I will definitely watch.

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Oz hive, tap in.

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Oh I'm here!!!

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I want you to know that you have reached directly into my brain and wound up my thinking. I saw this movie in the theater -- it came out when I was 8. I'd already read all the Baum Oz books, but we lost them in a basement flood, so I've seen neither movie nor books since. Now, I'm fuzzy on movies and books from last *month*, so I remembered absolutely nothing about them.

But then as I was reading your post, all these 40-year-old memories kept coming back online, ping-ping-ping-ping, and it was the WEIRDEST feeling!

ALSO. You deserve an award for calling it "the chicken-shit Oz key". That's GOLD.

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Just me running to the comments before even reading this to say how STOKED I am that you're reviewing Return to Oz! Its a deep childhood favorite that also creeped me the hell out!

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As a fellow lover of books full of weirdos, I have to recommend everything by Jasper Fforde!

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I watched this once, as a too-young kid (5? 6?) and have been tormented by it ever since. I seriously think about it so often.

And no one ever knows what I’m talking about and I’m like HALLWAY OF HEADS. And somehow

I never googled it.

So thank you for this! It’s everything I ever wanted!

(I also watched The Fly way too young if you wanna dive into that PTSD!)

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I very much want you to reread the Oz books and write about them! I was an Oz freak as a kid (I made my friends play Daughters of the Rainbow at recess in kindergarten and I was always Polychrome). During the pandemic we started doing regular Zoom storytimes with my best friend's kids, reading the Oz books, of course. I don't think my spouse has ever laughed as hard as when he was reading the chapter about Utensia to the kids, and it just makes me so happy to see you reference that very land!

At this point we've finished Baum and decided to go on to the Ruth Plumly Thompson books, and they definitely lose a bit of the magic. Her first book is really rough and has a bunch of racist caricatures of Asians (particularly in the illustrations, wtf, John R. Neill?). Thompson's vision of Oz sands off some of the strangeness from Baum's world, and she writes more traditional fairy tale plots, like princes going on quests to find princesses. There are still a bunch of Different Kinds of Guys, but they're less zany overall, and the world isn't as much of a matriarchy. Thompson does love wordplay and never passes on an opportunity for a pun, and I salute her for it. The second Thompson book was better than the first, but there was some more racism in the third one, so I decided I need to vet them a little more before reading with the kids. From what I've seen, we'll probably be skipping a couple more of them for racism. I will say a highlight so far was in her second book when a runaway country kidnapped the good guys, but Ozma negotiates for the Gnome King (Thompson changes the spelling from Nome because she's a square or something) to be its inhabitant instead. So not all of the magic is gone, and it's still fun to read with the kids.

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You have captured all my childhood feelings about Oz, Lindy!

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I too kept my Oz VHS next to taped episodes of Hey Dude!!!

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AHH one of my favorite childhood movies! I am also obsessed w/ the book series (my mom had all the OGs in hardcover) and read them obsessively as a child. Would love your take on the shortlived NBC drama Emerald City!! I loved that they tried to incorporate the Tip/Ozma thing but didn't love the execution of it. If you dig point-and-click games, I also recommend Emerald City Confidential.

LOVE your love for Tik-Tok!!! OG robot!

I literally got my Oz tattoo just a couple weeks ago. I don't have any cool pics of it but my tattoo artist made a post on instagram! I had her alter it a bit so I could have Dorothy and Ozma in it - this is from the inside jacket of Ozma of Oz. https://www.instagram.com/p/C35zIBMSN2p/?img_index=0

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Your tattoo is so cool!! I love it

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The night terrors this movie gave me…..I simply cannot. Those slimy looking rock dude faces PLS I BEG YOU NO MORE

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If you haven't already see it, you would totes dig 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, the first Dr Suess live action film from 1953. It's bonkers as fuck, and delightfully dark. I can't get enough of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or05wEAXaGs

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YESSSSS, I second this!!

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