Reviewed By: Billy
Just in case anyone’s wondering why a review of The Wiz is showing up here at Tower Farm, look no further than 13 minutes into this movie, when this happens:
The Fan (where he was obsessed with Lauren Bacall, playing a diva named Miss Ross…coincidence?). In other words, yes, sometimes I sit at home pretending to have dinner with her and often find myself snipping out little pictures of her from magazines and inserting them into my own photo albums. I live and breathe Diana Ross, and will not apologize for it. And just in case you don’t believe me, my brother JM will be happy to tell you about the time I dragged him to one of her concerts and then spent the entire evening crying. Seriously. Here’s the tour program:
Admittedly, Diana’s cropped afro look isn’t her most flattering, but the real scares begin when she gets blown to Oz by a kind of blizzard-tornado hybrid (Now there's a Syfy movie title if I've ever heard one), and is immediately greeted by frightening paper-doll figures emerging from the walls and maniacally repeating “To-to” in unison. I can only imagine kids in 1978, seeing this in theatres, running down the aisles screaming at this horrifying sequence. Oz, you see, is a graffiti-covered urban wasteland resembling Tony Todd’s lair in Candyman 3: Day Of The Dead. No, no…there are no rainbows and poppies here. Instead, Dorothy seems have to fallen straight onto the set of Dressed To Kill as envisioned by Jim Henson.
The film actually becomes a journey from one terrifying set-piece to the next; whether surrounded by giant cigar-smoking crows or trapped in a subway being menaced by sinister garbage cans, Dorothy seems to be descending into the very pit of Hell. There is no way anyone in their right mind could have thought this movie would qualify as a family-friendly musical…unless that person was thinking about my family.
Speaking of my family…did I mention that there’s a prolonged sequence featuring cigarette-smoke hissing prostitutes?
Along the way, of course, Dorothy picks up her collection of friends, including the Scarecrow. Now, the DVD box says something about Michael Jackson playing the Scarecrow…however, I’ve seen The Wiz multiple times and have yet to spot the Michael Jackson I know in it. I am, however, glad to see that Al Roker was doing such fine work early in his career.