3.8 stars. Begins with twenty minutes of gothic horror only to become a child's guide to Heideggerian metaphysics starring the cast of Starlight Express... in Hell! In its higgledy-piggledy approach to plot, special effects and basic ontological stability it is far closer to the melancholy-wondrous spirit of Baum's books than the technicolour glitz of the MGM musical, even if that was a mite more suitable for kids!
Better, most likely, in concept than in execution. It mostly looks very low budget and makeshift with with a very dreary Oz that often looks like it was filmed in the woods just past the suburbs. The movie has a not-quite-pro-level feel to it giving it sort of a TROLL 2 vibe. The electric therapy aspect and the wheelers are creepy. Tik Tok is a good looking contraption. But http://letterboxd.com/mharbour/films/diary/
I like this more then The Wizard of Oz. Still love it but this is way more my style. It's darker and somehow more believable. If this were made today it would probably look like poo. Everything would be CG, over the top, and sugar coated. Hurray for the disturbing 80's.
The great editor Walter Murch and cinematographer Freddie Francis have created a wonderfully dark and very close adaptation combining two of Baum's books. Very dark and alluring with Balk's emerald eyes mirroring the crumbling jeweled city. Love it and hope the new versions (yes, they're remaking the series) use this as a guide!
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I liked the L Frank Baum books about Oz, and this one stuck a lot closer tonally to those than The Wizard of Oz (which was great for different reasons) by which I mean it's dark, weird and kind of disturbing. And the score by David Shire totally blows my gourd! I hunted it down on CD and it is so insanely good.