Fairuza Balk from "The Craft" has been starring in the weirdest movies since she was a kid
You probably know Fairuza Balk from her breakout role as the creepiest teen witch of all time, Nancy Downs, in 1996’s The Craft, which turns 20 today.
Before she went all Crazy Sabrina though, Fairuza was an adorable child star. She got her start in the mid-’80s, starring in the Wizard of Oz sequel Return to Oz and the film adaptation of The Worst Witch.
She had long braids, big, innocent eyes, and the perfect amount of precociousness for a budding child star.
But she was also already choosing the creepiest cute kid roles around. It’s kind of a wonder Tim Burton didn’t snatch her up as a muse. Let’s talk about the creep factor of two of Fairuza’s biggest childhood projects.
Fairuza plays Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz. After her first trip to Oz, Dorothy ended up branded a little insane by Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. Can you blame them? Dorothy got sucked up by a tornado and, ever since, can’t stop talking about some magical land where scarecrows, tin men, and lions walk and talk, trees throw apples at you, monkeys fly, and witches are real. Her aunt and uncle would rather she just shut up and help on the farm. So they take Dorothy to see a doctor…at a scary mental hospital.
Since this is 1899, the doctors want to “help” Dorothy with a regimen of electroshock therapy.
But don’t worry: There’s a terrible storm and Dorothy escapes the creepy hospital and, well, returns to Oz. Oz is a scary nightmare-scape now though, full of things like the Wheelers — grown men with wheeled arms and legs who chase you on all fours while laughing manically…
And Mombi, a villain who literally steals other women’s heads to change into like new outfits. Oh, and she wants to lock Dorothy in the attic until she matures so she can add her head to the collection.
Even the good guys are bizarrely nightmare-inducing. Like The Gump, a moosehead tied to a couch that Dorothy and her friends magically animate with some life-giving pixie dust called the Powder of Life.
The Worst Witch
Fairuza followed up Return to Oz with The Worst Witch, in which she basically attended Hogwarts before any of us know what Hogwarts was.
While Fairuza wasn’t explicitly creepy in The Worst Witch, the adults were bonkers. There were witches like this lady:
And then Tim Curry, as The Grand Wizard, who performs a visually-trippy song and dance that’s straight out of your worst dreams:
Seriously. This is in the movie. It’s an extended musical number.
So happy 20th birthday to The Craft and lots of love to Fairuza Balk, who’s been picking delightfully weird movies since 1985.