See the Wizard of Oz Flying Monkeys Up Close

Getty Images
Getty Images

If you were anything like most children, The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t the most terrifying part of the 1939 classic. No, that honor was reserved for her flying monkeys, those awful winged humanoid creatures that could swoop down and wreak havoc without any warning.

Several of the primate parts were played by real people: Nikko, the head monkey, was played by actor Pat Walshe, while vaudevillian actor Harry Monty was both a Munchkin and a monkey. But in the creepy scene where thousands of monkeys descend upon our heroes in the Haunted Forest, the monkeys were all tiny rubber figures no more than a few inches tall.

The figures were hung from a gantry car with four strands of extremely thin music wire, resulting in about 1100 wires total. As the gantry moved down the soundstage, it took all of the little monkeys with it, making it appear as if they were flying. That’s about 275 tiny little winged monkeys in all—but according to the Oz museum in Wamego, Kansas, only four of these models survive to this day. They have two of them.

Stacy Conradt

They’re so small, in fact, that despite being hyped as one of the coolest exhibits in the museum, I walked right by them without realizing what they were. So, the next time you watch The Wizard of Oz and find yourself shuddering at that swarm of winged primates, remind yourself how tiny and nonthreatening they actually were. Now, the monkeys played by actors ... we can’t help you with that fear. They’re still pretty scary.

By the way, the “little insect” the Wicked Witch mentions in the beginning of the video was a reference to a scene that was cut from the final movie. Before the monkeys show up, the Wicked Witch of the West sent little pink and blue mosquito-like insects called Jitter Bugs to make Dorothy and her friends dance and tire them out. Despite the $80,000 it cost to film the song-and-dance number, the footage was cut to help with the run time of the movie. Though most of the Jitter Bug film has been destroyed, there is some grainy footage of the number being performed in rehearsal. Here it is, mixed it with some other images from the movie:

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]