20th Century Oz (1976)

Leave it to Australia — and experimental filmmaker Chris Löfvén — to transform Dorothy into a sixteen-year-old groupie who hits her head when traveling with a rock band. Now, she’s on the road to see the last show of androgynous rock god The Wizard, but a thug — she killed his brother — is chasing her.

The Scarecrow is now Blondie the stoned surfer (Bruce Spence, who was the chopper pilot in The Road Warrior), The Tin Man is a mechanic named Greaseball and The Cowardly Lion is a biker filled with self-hatred named Killer, based on Australian convict Mark Brandon Read, also known as Chopper, who had a movie made about his life in 2000.

While most of the bands on the soundtrack — Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Ross Wilson — may be unknown to American audiences, the concert that was used for the close of the film was really one for The Little River Band and AC/DC. In fact, their manager Ned Kelly played one of the bad guys named Truckie.

This film flopped in its native Australia but supposedly did pretty well here. I’d never heard of it, much less knew that a modern musical version of The Wizard of Oz was filmed two years before The Wiz.

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