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Return to Oz (1985)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Family, Fantasy  |  21 June 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 18,733 users   Metascore: 42/100
Reviews: 203 user | 54 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

Dorothy, saved from a psychiatric experiment by a mysterious girl, is somehow called back to Oz when a vain witch and the Nome King destroy everything that makes the magical land beautiful.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Worley / Nome King
Michael Sundin ...
Sean Barrett ...
Tik-Tok (voice)
Denise Bryer ...
Billina (voice)
Stewart Larange ...
Lyle Conway ...
Gump (voice)
Stephen Norrington ...
Gump (as Steve Norrington)


Dorothy Gale has recently come home to Kansas from the Land of Oz is now almost back to perfect health since the incident of the tornado, only she cannot get that wonderful place out of her head. She frequently talks about it and cannot get any sleep at night. Aunt Em worries about her health/well-being. Thinking that she is suffering delusional depression and acute insomnia, she decides to take her to see a special doctor in another town. While he tries to treat her with electro-shock treatment and take those nasty dreams away from her head, she is rescued by a mysterious girl who leads her back to Oz for a new adventure. Written by Nichola McDougall

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's an all-new live-action fantasy - filled with Disney adventure and magic. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

21 June 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oz  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (uncut) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scene where Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) falls onto the couch with a thud and onto the Nome King's mountain was done in 11 takes See more »


Dorothy's eyes and head-position on the pillow change several times between shots while they are testing the shock-therapy machine. See more »


Lead Wheeler: You'll be sorry for treating me like this! I'm a TERRIBLE fierce person!
Tik-Tok: I am only a machine. So I can not be sorry or happy, no matter what happens.
See more »


Referenced in The Nome Prince and the Magic Belt (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Yep, dark and disturbing
19 August 2005 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

After reading about 40 of the other comments here, all of whom say RETURN TO OZ is dark and disturbing, I will make a different comment. In the early 80s Disney certainly were off the cash trail with a range of films, each expertly produced, that were box office disasters. One may recall SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, TRON, THE BLACK CAULDRON, ONE MAGIC Christmas and a few others that had much to offer any thinking crowd,and each had special effects that were quite astonishing. Disney were in a very bleak period and the films, attempting to reflect perhaps a more mature or even grown up perspective chose, oh dear I have to say it: a dark and disturbing theme. At the time of release every critic bleated at the grim and melancholy tone of RETURN TO OZ, and sadly themselves neglected to celebrate the original book look, a choice Disney execs applauded themselves for. One Exec infamously said to us theatre owners: "We're going for the Frank L Baum book illustrations and nothing like that 1939 vaudeville thing". Oh dear, I thought at the time. You mean the world's most popular kids film? Well. $27 million dollars later in production costs returned maybe a quarter in theatre film rentals and RETURN TO OZ for all its merit and lavish production care and superb scary special effects....was consigned to the Disney dud bin. At the time I was irritated by the fixed goony expressions on Jack Pumpkinhead and the Scarecrow (loved Tik-tok, though, a fascinating and completely compelling design and movement piece) This time around I didn't mind it and actually appreciated the fact that they were 'book' expressions. Viewed 20 years later on a Disney DVD of dubious quality, I have to say it is a film more suited to these dark and disturbing times and if released today would certainly get a better reception and better crits...and possibly make a lot of money. I think the world is tuned into this type of family film more now than in the Flashdance 80s. The production values of RETURN TO OZ are simply breathtaking. Scene after scene perfectly realised: the green walled horror of the psychiatric asylum in reel one, the amazing claymation of the Gnome King, and especially the glittering halls of Mombi's castle. One genuinely screamworthy scene in the hall of Heads with a headless Queen rushing about in a nightmarish vision is almost only for adults, so intense is it's genuine horror. The glittering climax of a restored Emerald City is a triumph of green and silver/gold set design, I defy any viewer not to rewind it several times just to see each and every part. Yes nominated for 5 Oscars, it won none and vanished for 20 years. The no-marquee name Fairuza Balk didn't help the public embrace, no matter how exquisite she is. At least she wasn't named Soleil Moon Fry. In the same class as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, RETURN TO OZ now deserves its place there as part of a trilogy of superbly crafted fantasy for smart kids and astonished adults. That 'vaudeville thing' it certainly isn't. But not a failure either. The DVD is lacking trailers and production material that should and could be included. Bad Disney! Good film! I also defy any viewer not to shriek with laughter at the Gnome King revealing he is wearing the ruby slippers, a sly joke well presented.

74 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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