Oz in the News 2.14.15

oz-game-1Videogames and the Oscars  The Wizard of Oz was first adapted as an action game for the Super Nintendo by the Seta Corporation. In the game you controlled the four main characters and used their different abilities to rescue Toto from the Wicked Witch of the West and reach the titular Wizard of Oz so that Dorothy could return home. A more recent title was released on the Nintendo DS, called The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. This was a turn based RPG in the vein of the Dragon Quest or Earthbound series. Although it is technically licensed from the original novel, rather than the film, it does little to step out of the 1939 film’s shadow. The game received better than expected reviews for a licensed game, but that still only equated to average aggregate scores. It was cited as being too simplistic for RPG enthusiasts, but its unique visuals and good use of the DS touchscreen earned it some positive reviews.

How Creepy Is ‘Return to Oz?’ We’ve Got the Visual Proof  Did you ever watch The Wizard of Oz and feel it was missing something? Like post-apocalyptic rubble, primitive electroshock machines, or screaming disembodied heads? You’ll find all of these and more in Return to Oz, Disney’s 1985 film based loosely on author L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz sequels.  It didn’t pay off: Return to Oz was a critical and box office failure. But for a young generation who watched the film on VHS, Return to Oz was a formative, nightmare-inducing experience. Thirty years later, the film retains a certain charm, but is still a jarring contrast to cheerful Munchkin-filled Oz embedded in our collective consciousness.

See the ‘Wizard of Oz’ Flying Monkeys Up Close  Several of the primate parts were played by real people: Nikko, the head monkey, was played by actor Pat Walshe, while vaudevillian actor Harry Monty was both a Munchkin and a monkey. But in the creepy scene where thousands of monkeys descend upon our heroes in the Haunted Forest, the monkeys were all tiny rubber figures no more than a few inches tall.  The figures were hung from a gantry car with four strands of extremely thin music wire, resulting in about 1100 wires total. As the gantry moved down the soundstage, it took all of the little monkeys with it, making it appear as if they were flying. That’s about 275 tiny little winged monkeys in all—but according to the Oz museum in Wamego, Kansas, only four of these models survive to this day. They have two of them.

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