Of L. Frank Baum’s 125 writing credits on IMDB, only 12 aren’t spun from The Wizard of Oz, and nine of those are shorts Baum threw together in the early 20th century. Making room for Wicked, there are probably two popular versions of the story. So, on the occasion of Oz the Great and Powerful — starting an avalanche of future projects — here are some of the worst spin-offs and retreads (not counting the band Toto).
It’s such a colossal blunder there’s nowhere else to start. Sidney Lumet directed this (only two years after Network!) and Joel Schumacher presaged his days as a bad director by writing a patently lousy script. Also: Nipsey Russell. Ease on down the road, everybody.
UNDER THE RAINBOW
Technically not an Oz movie at all, this broad slapstick about a Hollywood hotel playing host to the munchkins during production of the 1939 classic is one of the lower points of Chevy Chase’s career.
RETURN TO OZ
“Children are sure to be startled by the film’s bleakness,” raved (warned?) The New York Times. Fairuza Balk’s a 10-year-old Dorothy, so how it’s a branded as a sequel doesn’t really work in your head. Disney made a ton of mistakes in the mid-’80s, and this baby lost them about $15 million, which sounded like a lot more money back then.
THE MUPPETS’ WIZARD OF OZ
Featuring Ashanti, David Alan Grier, Kelly Osbourne, Miss Piggy and Quentin Tarantino (as himself, thankfully). So … Hollywood Squares was booked that week?
Easy to find on YouTube, it’s everything you’d think a short film mash-up of the Yellow Brick Road and Apocalypse Now would be. How can 25 minutes seem so goddamn long?