wonderful land of ozChildhood Productions

Okay, so…show of hands: How many people reading this has tortured yourselves with the Yuletide schlock classic Santa & The Ice Cream Bunny? Huh. Well, either you’ve never heard of that cinematic atrocity, or you’re too ashamed to admit that you secretly watch it every year along with your family, despite their collective protests. Or, is that just me? I may need help. Anyway…

Depending on which cut you’ve seen (admit it), you’re familiar with either the “Jack & The Giant Beanstalk” or “Thumbilina” segments. Both ultra-low budget fare, featuring paper mache’ sets, equally paper-thin acting and musical numbers that will haunt your nightmares for all the wrong reasons. These were directed by one Barry Mahon, a director known for not only badly made childrens’ movies (like the bafflingly horrible Santa’s Christmas Elf Named Calvin), but also more adult exploitation flicks.

The Wonderful Land Of Oz, Mahon’s adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel The Marvelous Land of Oz, is a faithful–if not ultra low-budget–adaptation. Or so I’m told. I haven’t read the source material, and I’m only familiar with the classic 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz as far as movie adaptations go. And now this one. I have only myself to blame for that.

Anyway, after an opening musical sequence that tries to go for whimsy, but thanks to a badly constructed purple cow (among other things) ends up traumatizing anyone in visual range, we meet a young boy named Tip, who’s busy constructing a pumpkin-headed scarecrow in which to scare his guardian, the wicked witch Mombi. This backfires, as Mombi instead brings the pumpkin headed guy (named Jack Pumpkinhead, who sadly never ever sings about Halloweentown) to life, and then threatens to turn Tip into a garden statue…in the morning. You can’t be turning children into statues without a good night’s rest, apparently. While Mombi is slumbering, Tip runs away with Jack Pumpkinhead in tow, off to the Emerald City to speak with its ruler to get help. Of course, this being a sequel to the first book/movie, the head guy in charge of Emerald City is now the Scarecrow, while the Tin Man is off ruling his own kingdom. What happened to the Lion, you may ask? Pshaw, he doesn’t appear in this movie, so that’s of no importance to the plot. Anyhoo, along the way to Oz, he gets captured by an all-female army that’s marching to Oz to overthrow the Scarecrow and rule Emerald City as they see fit. Once there, while the Army of Revolt confuses the City Guards with logic, Tip manages to escape to warn the Scarecrow of the impending invasion, something which the Scarecrow is kind of okay with, really. Turns out, ruling a city is totally exhausting and stuff. So, the Scarecrow, Peter “Abomination Against Nature” Pumpkinhead and Tip escape to the Tin Man’s realm, where they decide they want to take back Emerald City from a bunch of girrrrrls, and thus return to find that not everything is going as planned for the leader of the rebellion. Then, Glenda the good Witch Fairy stops by with some Deus Ex Machina by way of revealing that the true heir to the Emerald City is a girl that has been under the “care” of Mombi. And when confronting Mombi to the whereabouts of the girl, she reveals that, to keep the girl safe from those seeking her out, she turned her into a boy…a boy she named Tip. Yeah. Didn’t see that one coming [/sarcasm]. Anyway, they return to the Emerald City, with Tip now back to his…er, her original form of a girl, and she’s left in charge of the city with some characters helping her in her education. Oh, and there’s a humanoid bug character that will haunt your nightmares as well in this.

Watching The Wonderful Land Of Oz is like being forced to watch an Elementary school play that was slapped together and directed by a teacher who clearly had delusions of adequacy in putting on a production. Ah, but the ultra-cheep sets and costumes, as well as the cringe-worthy acting is nothing compared to the musical numbers. Gads, those will haunt your nightmares.

Word has it that the director wanted to get Judy Garland to do the narration for this. Probably best that she didn’t get involved in this thing. If you happen upon the Wonderful Land Of Oz, pass on by like the devil is at your heels.