Return to Oz is the darkest iteration of the Oz stories ever put to film. Can you believe it was made by Disney? Well I can, since Walt Disney wanted to make a Wizard of Oz movie for decades. I’m not sure this is what he had in mind, but that’s the 80’s for you. Return to Oz continues to unofficially follow the original. Taking cues from L. Frank Baum’s two sequel books The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz. It’s one of the more faithful adaptations. Since Dorothy is actually a child (played by a very young Fairuza Balk) and the tone is closer to the books. I never watched Return to Oz when I was younger, but I imagine it scared many children at the time. After returning home to Kansas, Dorothy’s stories about Oz are enough to get her sent away to receive shock therapy! Don’t worry it gets darker. When she returns to Oz, Dorothy finds that everyone’s been turned to stone with the yellow brick road in ruins. The Nome King is responsible. A creepy stone monster pulled off with impressive stop-motion. Equally disturbing are a band of Wheelers. However, the most unsettling part of Return to Oz is Princess Mombi. A witch who keeps a collection of decapitated heads. Even Dorothy’s traveling companion’s are enough to cause nightmares. Mechanical man Tik-Tok, talking chicken Billina, and flying elk The Gump are fine, but Jack Pumpkinhead may be too much for kids. Not to mention the Scarecrow’s lifeless face (the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion look good though). When their ordeal is over, the rightful ruler of the Emerald City is named. Return to Oz feels like it was made by a more traumatizing Tim Burton.
Popeye the Sailor Man is strong to the finish cause he eats his spinach. He’s Popeye the Sailor Man! One of the oldest cartoon characters ever created. His first appearance was in a series of comic strips starting in 1929. Then he made the leap to film, first starring in a Betty Boop cartoon. Popeye is a gruff, but good natured sailor distinguished by his strong chin, one eye, pipe, and large forearms. Always by his side is his extra skinny girlfriend Olive Oyl. He’s always there to rescue her from the big palooka Bluto. There’s also the burger obsessed Wimpy and Popeye’s adopted boy-kid Swee’Pea. Just as old is the live-action adaptation released in 1980. Making it one of the earliest adaptations of a popular cartoon. Brought to life by the very unlikely director Robert Altman. He took a chance on casting an up and coming comedian by the name of Robin Williams. In his first starring role, Williams gives a spot on Popeye impression. Shelly Duvall was born to play Olive Oyl for obvious reasons. They’re just placed in a slow movie that feels more like a series of animated shorts. The pacing problem is mostly the result of the time it was released. Popeye is the new guy in town, he becomes a boxer, his baby predicts races, he finds his father, and there’s also buried treasure. Spinach doesn’t even play a role until the very end, but when it does it’s the best part. Ending with his famous theme song. It’s not the most exciting live-action version of a cartoon, but to quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” Which can just as easily be applied to the movie Popeye.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is when things started to get ridiculous. With a rushed story that clearly shows in the final product. It takes place one whole year after Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Apparently Michael Myers was in a coma for that exact amount of time, being tended to by an old man. What a coincidence that he just so happens to wake up just in time for next year’s Halloween. Although they do have a lazy excuse for why that might have happened. They just ignore the last movies ending of having Jamie be a killer. Instead they make the aforementioned lazy excuse that she has a psychic link with her psychotic Uncle. Jamie is now mute and stuck in a trauma ward, but she’s still the best character in the movie. Michael’s motive is pretty much the same as before. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers just feels like a half baked continuation. If you thought the mask looked bad before, it got much worse. The movies only redeeming quality is that it features a long awaited showdown between Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers. Starting with Michael’s pursuit of Jamie inside his house, followed by a trap set by Loomis. SPOILER ALERT! Loomis has a massive stroke and Michael gets arrested. Until a man in black breaks him out for some reason. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers should have killed the franchise, but we’ve still got a lot more to get through.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers finally brings Michael Myers back to the franchise. After their misguided attempt to make the franchise an anthology with Halloween III: Season of the Witch, they ditched their ghost story idea and just brought the iconic slasher back. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers takes place 10 years after Michael’s apparent death by incineration at the end of Halloween II. Michael Myers discovers he has a niece named Jamie and he sets out to find and kill her. Going through the same basic set up of killing someone for a jumpsuit and finding another Shatner mask at a store. Dr. Loomis is also somehow alive and desperately trying to track Michael down. Jamie Lee Curtis does not return, because Laurie apparently died between movies. Kind of a disappointing end to the iconic final girl. Overall, this was a fairly lackluster follow up that never strays too far from the formula. The only difference is having part of the town try to stop the killer with vigilante justice. Meanwhile the Michael Myers mask seems to have gotten worse. Now it looks more cheap than creepy (it even turns blonde briefly). Though I will say that Danielle Harris as Michael Myers young niece Jamie is a worthy character in the franchise. Her foster sister Rachel is ok too. SPOILER ALERT! having it end with Jamie seeming to become the next Michael Myers was a shocking image that could’ve been an interesting change of pace. Still, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers isn’t quite that clever.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch having nothing to do with Michael Myers sums up the movie completely. The Halloween franchise was originally meant to be an anthology series. With every movie having a different storyline that centers on Halloween. If that’s the case then why make Halloween II a direct follow up to the original Halloween? Let’s just say that it was a gamble that didn’t pay off. I’m not even sure how to explain this movie it’s so needlessly complicated. Halloween III: Season of the Witch takes place several days before Halloween. With 3 masks (a witch, a pumpkin, and a skull) being the hottest selling costumes. A doctor and the daughter of a murder victim investigate the company that made the masks named Silver Shamrock. While there, they discover an evil plot to kill children using the masks via the most annoyingly catchy TV commercial ever. Through an illogical witchcraft ritual and using well-dressed robots as bodyguards. As a Halloween movie, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a disappointing detour. It just doesn’t work without Michael Myers. Plus the plot has a ridiculous amount layers to it. As a standalone movie, Season of the Witch has cult value. I suppose it does work if you don’t think of it as a sequel in a franchise. It’s a lot more violent and has a completely different pace that makes it stand out. So if you’re just here to see the famous slasher, you might want to skip Halloween III: Season of the Witch. However, if you just want to see a campy ridiculous Halloween themed movie, Season of the Witch just might peak your interest.
Halloween II is a sequel 3 years in the making. Yet the movie actually takes place mere seconds after the first Halloween. By the end of the first movie, Michael Myers was shot several times, but disappeared. Leaving Dr. Loomis to desperately search for his whereabouts exclaiming that he isn’t human. Meanwhile a traumatized Laurie Strode is taken to the hospital for the rest of the night. Michael Myers, of course, goes on a killing spree and continues to single out Laurie in particular. Halloween II is notable for being set in a hospital. One of the scariest locations you can set a horror movie. As a sequel to a classic, Halloween II just can’t hold a Jack-O’-Lantern’s candle to the original. Some of the kills are just there to increase the body count. Even if they do help to make Michael more threatening. Laurie on the other hand, doesn’t really have anything to do but lay in bed most of the movie. Though I do think they did a good job of making Halloween II feel like a direct sequel in terms of scares. SPOILER ALERT! Laurie being revealed to be Michael Myers other sister was a good twist. Giving them a far greater connection that gives reason to his stalking. The ending definitely felt like a logical conclusion to the series. With everything taking place in one long Halloween night. Overall, Halloween II isn’t a game changer, but it should be enough to satisfy fans of the franchise.
The Karate Kid Part III brought great shame to the martial arts franchise. It’s easily the worst film of the trilogy. So much so that it was nominated for multiple Razzie awards including Worst Picture. The reception was so bad that Ralph Macchio essentially quit the franchise afterwards. Above anything else, the main problem with The Karate Kid Part III is how mean spirited it is. Almost exactly like Rocky V. The plot is practically a rehash of the original. With yet another bully for Daniel to overcome. Daniel is now living with Mr. Miyagi and planning to open a small business with him. Their second mistake was putting focus on Mr. Miyagi’s love of bonsai trees. Daniel also has yet another love interest after The Karate Kid Part II already gave him a new one. Only new girl Jessica isn’t even single. Things get really bad when sadistic ex-sensei John Kreese swears revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. He enlists the help of a ponytail wearing wealthy war buddy who manipulates Daniel into leaving Mr. Miyagi. He teaches him strangely brutal Cobra Kai methods that leave him bloody and bruised. Daniel being easily taken advantage of just makes him look like an idiot. He couldn’t be more out of character. Pat Morita is the only bright spot. Aside from him, The Karate Kid Part III is the most embarrassing chapter in the series.
The Karate Kid Part II continues Daniel-san’s journey in Mr. Miyagi’s homeland of Okinawa, Japan. Much like Rocky II, the sequel first picks up immediately after The Karate Kid. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi encounter sadistic sensei John Kreese in a parking lot after the tournament. He breaks Cobra Kai’s second place trophy and nearly chokes out Johnny, but Mr. Miyagi intervenes. He shows him mercy by honking his nose. Aside from Kreese, Johnny, and his gang, Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita are the only returning cast members. Ali is annoyingly written out due to an off screen break up. Which is always frustrating, because it puts a likeable character in a bad light. Instead Daniel travels with Mr. Miyagi to his home country where he finds a new love interest. The young Japanese niece of Miyagi’s former flame named Kumiko. The reason for the trip is for Mr. Miyagi to visit his dying father. As well as come to terms with demons from his past. The location change is the strongest part of The Karate Kid Part II. Along with stand out moments like Daniel breaking though blocks of ice. It’s an interesting cultural change, but the energy is sort of lacking. Daniel once again faces a group of bullies. Only they’re much more willing to fight to the death. So Daniel’s main lesson in martial arts is to show mercy even with your worst enemy. The Karate Kid Part II is the only honorable sequel of the bunch.
The Karate Kid made martial arts cool again. By essentially redoing Rocky with teenagers. Hence why Rocky director John G. Avildsen directs it. Both are underdog stories about unlikely heroes training to overcome their own personal battles. The Karate Kid is something my mom suggested we watch since my brother and I were roughly the same age as the lead character. Of course being released in 1984 helps as well. It might surprise you to know that the story is actually sort of based on a true story. Apparently the screenwriter was also beaten up at a young age and learned karate from a wise Japanese sensei. His story was combined with another true story about a kid who earned a black belt by fighting his school bullies in a competition and thus The Karate Kid was born. That’s another thing I can relate to, because my brother and I once took our Uncle’s karate class. My only regret is not continuing to take more classes. The Karate Kid was such a hit that it spawned two sequels, a stand alone sequel, a remake, an animated series, and a web series. Learning karate has never been this inspiring…
The Karate Kid is Daniel LaRusso. Technically a teenager from Jersey who moves all the way to Reseda with his mom. Up and coming 80’s star Ralph Macchio’s scrawny physique is perfect for the character. It makes it more believable when he gets his butt kicked. A neighbor kid invites Daniel to a beach party where he meets popular girl Ali. Played by up and coming 80’s starlet Elisabeth Shue. They hit it off, but that angers local bully Johnny Lawrence. He beats up Daniel so badly that he loses his potential friend (except Ali) and attempts to join a karate class in defiance. Until he discovers that Johnny and his gang are all part of Cobra Kai. Which is run by a sadistic sensi that teaches his students to show no mercy. There are no bad students, only bad teachers. After getting revenge at a Halloween party, (for which some people claim makes Daniel the bully) Daniel is beaten up to the point that a mysterious karate master comes to save him. The master turns out to be Mr. Miyagi. His apartment’s Japanese handyman and the only real friend that he’s made there. Pat Morita is Mr. Miyagi. So its shocking to learn that he almost didn’t get the part. Morita was mostly known for stand up comedy and only very recently I heard his natural speaking voice. I always assumed Miyagi’s thick Okinawan accent was his own, but it just makes his Oscar nominated performance all the more deserving. Mr. Miyagi agrees to train Daniel-san by having him “Wax on, wax off” his car, sand the floor, paint the fence, and paint the house. Nothing beats the moment when Daniel realizes he’s been learning karate the entire time. Making Mr. Miyagi one of the best mentor’s in film history. He also teaches him balance, crane technique, and the most important lesson to only use karate for self defense. Something he’s gonna need for his tournament fight with Johnny and Cobra Kai. With Mr. Miyagi, his mom, and Ali supporting him, Daniel can prove himself. The fight is intense, but not even a sweeping of the leg is enough to prevent Daniel’s triumph. The Karate Kid truly is the best around. Nothing’s gonna ever keep it down!
Followed by: The Karate Kid Part II
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child finally follows up on the question of who Freddy’s mother is. Even though that was answered two movies ago. His messed up origin involves his nun mother being locked in a room with 100 psychopaths. When final girl Alice defeated Freddy at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, it seemed to be for good. But through a series of complicated reasons, Freddy returns through Alice’s unborn baby. Attempting to merge the baby’s soul with his own. It doesn’t make much sense, but then again neither does the rest of the movie, because A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is stupid. It’s the first sequel that misses the mark entirely. The reason being their inability to find a clear tone. The last movie had that problem, but this is ridiculous. The movie strangely deals with a variety of heavy topics including, teen pregnancy, abortion, drinking & driving, and eating disorders. Something a slasher movie isn’t equipped to handle. Especially since Freddy’s killing methods are more wacky than ever. Their creative, but utterly ridiculous. Freddy morphs into a motorcycle, feeds a girl food until she inflates, and turns into a comic book superhero. That and the darker tone don’t mix at all. SPOILER ALERT! Alice survives along with her friend Yvonne. I’m not joking when I say Freddy is defeated by being sucked into his mother’s womb. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child was so rushed that it doesn’t make any sense.