I’ve been wracking my brains for the last few days trying to figure out something I could do for Easter. See, I kind of forgot that today was going to be the actual holiday until someone brought it up just recently. Having so little time, I couldn’t hunt down any Easter themed horror movies, so a review was out. I could talk about what Easter is like for the undead, but that just leads to a bunch of zombie Jesus jokes, and those got old a long time ago, not to mention Jesus wouldn’t have been a zombie since being undead is kind of a prerequisite. It’s been a while since I’ve read a Bible, but I don’t remember the story being about Jesus eating the disciples, and that sounds like the kind of thing I’d remember. Suffice it to say, some zombies celebrate Easter, some don’t. Personally, it’s not my thing these days, but that’s mainly because Cadbury Eggs taste terrible when you’re undead. So with no Easter movies to review, and not wanting to hear a bunch of zombie Jesus jokes, I’m left with a very limited number of options for what I can write, but then it hit me. Every Easter when I was a kid, my family used to get together and while the adults did their thing, the kids would watch the classic film Wizard of Oz. What it had to do with Easter, I’ve no idea, but it was always on, and I always felt much different about the movie than most folk thanks to one scene in particular, one scene that changes the entire tone of the movie. With nothing more pertinent to talk about, I’m going to discuss why Wizard of Oz is, behind the scenes, a fucking brutal horror flick.
If you think about it, there’s actually a lot of at least somewhat scary things in that movie, especially as a kid. There’s a witch that wants to murder a teenage girl over a pair of shoes (or just eat her dog, I never fully understood what the witch wanted making her all that much scarier), a troop of flying monkey (if that doesn’t scare you, just think about all the aerial poo bombardments), a dark journey through a forest of cardboard trees (Oz grows cardboard trees, what the hell kind of place is this), people being crushed by falling houses (witch or not, that’s still pretty fucked up), and an army of giant green dudes with pikes (who are called Winkies of all things, how badass do you have to be to be named after a penis and still instill fear in others). There’s also the bit where Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion go around destroying the Emerald City royal chambers so that the Lion can feel like a king covered in rugs and broken pottery. I can only imagine the residents of Emerald City watching and wondering why the three assholes they just let in are running around breaking shit like they own the place. Though I guess that’s not scary as much as it simply shows that those three are total jackasses with no care about anyone but themselves, this will become important in a bit. By the time the second movie came out, Return to Oz, they’d given up and just straight up made a horror movie (the Wheelies still give me the shivers and may be the reason I never really tried to get into roller skating) or at the very least a terrible acid trip. Don’t get me wrong, I love Return to Oz, but that is one fucked up movie. I wish I could include the Tin Man’s backstory in the list of horror worthy moments, but the movie doesn’t cover the history of the world’s worst lumberjack as a magical axe cuts his body apart piece by piece and he never once stops to ask himself if maybe he needs a new job. No, he just keeps cutting away pieces of himself and replacing them with tin until his entire body is more fragile than a hybrid car. Luckily, I don’t need any of that because there is one scene that shows the true brutality of Oz’s premier witch hunting team. I’m talking about the group’s trip to kill the Wicked Witch of the West.
(Not this one, watching Mila Kunis try to act as anything other than spoiled rich girl is a very different type of horror)
Now, I’ve heard it argued that they never intended to actually kill her. They just needed to get her broom. I might actually buy that if it weren’t for the weapons our intrepid band of witch hunters carry with them. Look at the picture below:
What do you see in that picture? A goofy group of characters shivering in a forest? A light hearted affair for your kids? Maybe a little nostalgia? Let me tell you what I see, a trio of characters that are about to murder a woman in the most horrible way possible. Look at the weapons they have. The Cowardly Lion has a giant net and a poison sprayer, the Tin Man has an axe (bottom right corner of the picture) and a massive wrench, and lastly, the Scarecrow has a stick (hidden behind Dorothy in this picture as every picture that showed it hid a more important weapon) and a fucking gun (tat would be the more important weapon, it’s right next to Dorothy’s arm). This is how it goes down in my head. The Lion captures the witch in his net before spraying her with poison in the hopes of paralyzing her, the Tin Man then beats the ever loving hell out of her with his giant wrench because why else does he have an oversized wrench, it’s not like he’s going to be doing any oversized plumbing along the way. While she’s woozy, beaten, and near unconsciousness, the Scarecrow is going to come along and taunt her with his stick, poking and prodding her for the group’s sick amusement (it’s not like he was using it to walk) before finally growing bored and ending her misery with a bullet to the head. Finally, to hide the evidence of what they’ve done, remember, they only need the broom, not her body, the Tin Man will use his axe to cut her into pieces small enough that no one will ever find them. They’ll be heroes to the Land of Oz, and no one will ever know how sick and twisted they all really are. It’s a perfect plan. They simply lucked out, and were able to go the simpler route of getting her wet, swimming pools being the arch enemy of green skinned women.
(They must have been so very disappointed)
“Stop being a cynical asshole,” you say “it’s obvious that they’re all terrified and only have those things for self-defense.” Maybe that’s the case, maybe I am just being a cynical asshole, scratch that, I’m usually a cynical asshole, but I don’t think I’m wrong. Self-defense is one thing, carrying enough cruel, unnecessary weapons to make Eli Roth drool over the murder porn that is about to commence is something else. Then we come back to that earlier mention of the slaughter three and their shenanigans in the Emerald City. It’s pretty obvious that none of them really care about other people or their feelings. I mean, I can be a dick, but I don’t usually go over to people’s houses and start smashing up the place. Of course, I’m not missing a brain, a heart, or a spine. Scarecrow can’t think through his actions anyway, making him the perfect goon for a heartless monster like the Tin Man whose cold, calculated way of thinking allows him to formulate amazing plans without obstacles like a conscience. But what about the Cowardly Lion? He’s too terrified to deal with the young girl half his size, using neither tooth nor claw to devour the woman who punched him in the face. Had Dorothy decided to go through the savannas of Africa, her facial assault would have ended the movie pretty quickly, but the lions of Oz aren’t even capable of running away, they just crumble into an emotional mess. How could this creature have had anything to do with the plot to massacre the last remaining evil witch in Oz? Well, every gang of devious psychopaths needs a guy, err lion, like him. Notice they only gave him the lesser weapons they had, that’s because he’s the stooge for this murderous gang of assassins. If things go wrong during their hunt, well, Tin Man and Scarecrow have a willing scape goat.
(Sort of like the Oz version of this group, thanks for the assist South Park)
So there it is, my reasons for Wizard of Oz being a brutal horror film behind the scenes. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m reading too much into an innocent film that mistakenly decided to give its “heroes” horrible weapons of torture, or maybe the world of Oz isn’t the nice place you thought it was.
From your favorite zombie, Happy Easter to those that celebrate, and to those who don’t, have a great Sunday.
The Undead Review