Available on Chilling Streaming Service
Frank Baum’s books about the fantasy world of Oz have never been cause for concern amongst those familiar with the entire series. After watching the horror film, simply titled Gale, Stay Away From Oz, I have to watch Return to Oz (1985) again to refresh my memory. It seems this short is clearly influenced by it along with the books. The story here concerns how insanity has affected the Gale family.
Just when fans of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s film Wizard of Oz thought that film was the end all be all, there’s been attempts to continue the story with Journey Back to Oz, produced by Filmation, but it largely lays forgotten when compared to other attempts by the House of Mouse, which includes Oz, The Great and Powerful, along with other studios’s interpretation. The original tale is in the public domain, and filmmakers and playwrights can do whatever they want with this fond classical piece of children’s literature.
With the novels, I like to see if it ever alluded to Dorothy Gale going insane after returning to Earth. Fans of the books know the author also included scarier elements later on in the series. As for which work made Daniel Alexander reimagine this world to a product of true nightmares, I’m glad he’s taking a chance and releasing it early, before Spooktober.
Unlike other lamented works which features Winnie the Pooh as a killer (and there’s many more in the works when I last checked online), I can at least say this film does a lot more to build the suspense and leave those who liked this presentation wanting more.
This short film goes full on Lovecraft. Emily (Chloë Crump) investigates the mystery about why her grandmother (Karen Swan) is what she is. She’s totally lost it since coming home. That is, all she remembers from her whirlwind experience is those red shoes and the wicked witch. Maybe she should’ve kept her adventure to herself, but eventually, she told her family and when it became too much, maybe sent her to an asylum. When she grew older, it was changed to a nursing home.
We don’t hear Dorothy’s name until much later and we’re supposed to figure out if Oz has become a death zone or not. It seems what this elderly person’s experiences have somehow got passed down in the genes, and Emily wants to rid herself of these visions than try to figure out why she’s dreaming them too.
Gale, Stay Away From Oz is an amazing watch on its take on what happened to Dorothy after she’s come home. This work feels like a proof of concept on what can be done should filmmakers approach the world by revealing the terrors who have finally taken over Oz. With no surprise, it involves the Nome King and I really shouldn’t say any more.
Unlike other adaptations which are very low-fi and suffer from a not-so-creative vision, this presentation is willing to leave viewers like me feeling worried for our hero. The near gothic atmosphere is the stuff of nightmares, and the performance by Swan will leave many cringing. Hopefully a continuation will be made, as the narrative goes beyond the cinematic adaptation most people know. The original character is unhinged, which is completely the opposite of Judy Garland’s portrayal!
5 Stars out of 5