Man, the 80s were weird. The movies I grew up on were beyond strange, they verged on the distastefully surreal. What I mean by that is: inappropriate for children. Thing is, I never realized it as a kid. I watched these movies and ate them up (as did my VCR when we wore the tapes to shreds) and then proceeded to have endless series of nightmares about the Swamp of Sadness and Electro-shock therapy and detached heads.
Return to Oz is one of those movies that I watched over and over again, torturing myself each time. I think this movie sort of shaped my love for all things campy and horror with the silly and over-the-top graphics and characters. Still, the Claymation created by Will Vinton stands up, in a California Raisons kind of way.
While moments of Return to Oz are still very affecting – and, frankly, terrifying. even as an adult – there are a lot of childish antics that don’t quite capture my attention these days. Which is why this movie is so bizarre to me. Why the mixture between genuinely frightening scenes such as a headless queen with a room full of detached heads to choose from and silly, Jar-Jar Binks-style humor? It seems to be a genre only the 80s employed. Kind of like Pixar’s middle-age-angst for kids these days.
I’m not complaining. I think these millenium kids could do with a little toughening up. This coming from me after spending a summer teaching computer camp to 13 year-olds. Trust me, those little shits need some electro-shock, wheeler, tick-tock, tough love.
And then there’s the nostalgia trip that is Beetle Juice. It’s a miracle I was still straight after watching that movie as a kid. A tragic, tragic miracle. Winona Ryder is the most beautiful, hilarious, gothic 12-year-old I’ve ever seen. And those bangs! I wanted those bangs so badly!
In addition to Winona Ryder’s bangs, Catherine O’Hara performs in the best dance sequence recorded on film. Her face is fabulous. Sometimes she reminds of Lucille Ball or Guilietta Masena, sometimes she’s more Glenn Close, and I love her. But let’s not forget the tragedy that is the ending of Beetle Juice. Lydia is transformed into a dancing, fluffy banged silly.
What can I say about Meet the Feebles besides it’s completely ridiculous. The most ridiculous puppet movie I’ve ever seen, I’d say. And that’s including Muppet Treasure Island. At some point – right about the time the diseased rabbit pops one of his “rabbit pox” all over the mirror – I had to just decide to go with it and soak in all the blood, and guts, and heroin that is the Feeble production. Gross. Disgusting. Strangely intriguing. When will Peter Jackson make a sequel?