10 Movies Released Way Too Late To Make Sense

9. Return To Oz (1985)

Black Widow Scarlett Johansson
Buena Vista

Released a gobsmacking 46 years after The Wizard Of Oz, there was no way in the world that Return To Oz was going to mimic… well, anything about the original movie.

And to be fair, aside from Dorothy’s return to Oz (telegraphed just a smidge by the title), it doesn’t even really try. It remains the only film that Walter Murch, one of cinema’s most celebrated film editors and sound designers, ever directed, and Murch was smart enough to make Return To Oz a return to the original books. He created a dark fantasy with no songs, no technicolour dancing about, and a bleak, creepy cast to the story and production design.

With respect to the fabulous Fairuza Balk, she was no Judy Garland either. Her Dorothy is a pre-teen moppet, not the winsome ingénue of The Wizard Of Oz. That makes a significant difference: in the original, Dorothy Gale was a sweet teenage girl collecting friends while skipping along the road to the Emerald City and avoiding the attention of a wicked witch. Here, Dorothy occupies the classic ‘kid trapped in a brutal fairytale’ role, navigating murderous witches and monsters with a child’s innocent perception.

It’s a great adaptation, a wonderful film, and an absolutely lousy sequel: produced decades too late to capitalise on any of the things that people loved about the original film, so much so that the filmmaker didn’t even try.

That horrible disconnect from one the most watched and most loved movies in cinema history was reflected in reviews at the time (which didn’t know what to make of it) and the box office, where it failed to recoup even half of its modest budget.


Professional writer, punk werewolf and nesting place for starfish. Obsessed with squid, spirals and story. I publish short weird fiction online at desincarne.com, and tweet nonsense under the name Jack The Bodiless. You can follow me all you like, just don't touch my stuff.