I watched The Wizard of Oz (1939) every year from the time I was 5 until… well, until I decided that I was “too old” to watch it. It was probably some time around age 10 or 11. One of the networks would air it every year and my mom would call me in, and the whole family would watch it together. Age 10 or 11 is the last time I watched The Wizard of Oz. Since Warner Brothers sent me a free copy of the film as part of the Blu-ray Elite program, I’ve recently had a chance to revisit the Emerald City and the merry old land of Oz. My first thought upon completing it was, “This is the perfect kids movie in every way”. Then something else dawned on me. There are a LOT of things in that movie that could potentially scare the little ones. I know that my five year old nephew, the author of a few reviews here, would probably struggle a little bit. Here are the eight things in The Wizard of Oz most likely to give nightmares to a kid (and some adults, too).
Bring up The Wizard of Oz to anyone and one of the first things they’ll mention is how much the flying monkeys made them want to take “the wiz” in their pants when they saw the movie as a child. They have human features that are “off”, they descend upon Dorothy and crew like a swarm, they rip the stuffing out of the nicest guy on earth (the Scarecrow)… Everything about them is unholy. I honestly know people who still think monkeys are freaky because of deep-seated childhood issues from the flying monkey scenes.
The Talking Trees
Every little kid has picked a leaf, a twig, or some fruit off of a tree. But the talking tree scene surely gives them pause henceforth. Their voices bellow, they’re angry, and they assault the crew. In fairness to the trees, I’d also assault someone if they yanked on my apples.
The Wicked Witch of the West
She’s green, mean, ugly as sin, and possesses a shrill maniacal cackle. Oh, and she owns an army of flying monkeys and sets people on fire. She probably also smells awful since she obviously can’t shower or bathe. Her breath probably smells bad, too.
The Wicked Witch of the East
You don’t get to see too much of the Wicked Witch of the East. In fact, all you see of her are her legs. Her feet curl up into some ridiculously vile position. All we really know about her is that she was so despicable that her death inspired a bunch of munchkins to sing songs and dance in celebration. How bad of a person do you have to be that people sing and dance because you died? Fortunately for the oppressed munchkins, she had one weakness. She was allergic to houses falling on her.
The Disembodied Head of Oz
Any disembodied head looks creepy. This one is gigantic. It’s green, it floats in the air, it’s huge, and it yells at the gang. It also resembles something you’d find in a fake alien autopsy photo.
With almost all of these things, you can tell a child “There is no such thing as a…”. You can’t do that with tornadoes. The prospect of a tornado flinging a house around like a basketball is terrifying enough for a kid. The Wizard of Oz somehow makes that horrible experience even worse, pairing it with ghostly images of trees, cows, relatives, and your family’s nemesis floating by the window.
The State of Kansas
I’ve always considered The Wizard of Oz to be a tragedy because in the end, Dorothy goes back to Kansas instead of dying from her head trauma. There are tornadoes there, and it’s mostly a barren wasteland. If you want to test your strength, try driving across Kansas from east to west. I guarantee in 3 hours, you’ll be banging on your car window and screaming to be let out. (I’d be a bad Missourian if I didn’t poke some fun at Kansas. Apologies to any Kansans reading this. That is, unless you attend the University of Kansas.)
The Guards at the Witch’s Castle
They march in time with clockwork precision, all while chanting “oh-EE-oh, wee-OOOOH-oh”. They’re almost like a cult, and they all carry menacing weapons.