When I was writing up Warner Bros’ desire to reshoot the script for Wizard of Oz, I mentioned that there have been few attempts to franchise out L Frank Baum’s Oz mythology. The one most of you probably know is Return to Oz, the Walter Murch-directed very dark sequel starring young
Fairuza Balk as Dorothy Gale, who comes back to Oz to find the place a wreck. But decades earlier there was a direct cartoon sequel to The Wizard of Oz from Filmation; while they couldn’t get Judy Garland (she was otherwise occupied with decomposition), they got her daughter, Liza Minnelli, to play the voice of Dorothy Gale.
And in a precursor to the way Dreamworks makes their cartoons today, Filmation loaded the movie with celebrity voices. Margaret Hamilton, the original Wicked Witch of the West, plays Auntie Em here, while Garland’s old buddy Mickey Rooney is the Scarecrow, Danny Thomas is the Tin Man and Milton Berle is the Cowardly Lion. Ethel Merman does the voice of Mombi, the Bad Witch, while the epic Paul Lynde plays Pumpkinhead.
The songs are bad and the animation is poor. I haven’t seen Journey Back to Oz in decades, but I hated it as a kid, so I don’t imagine it’s improved with age. Anybody out there remember this one?