Forbidden Zone: Ultimate Edition
directed by Richard Elfman
starring Hervé Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Marie-Pascale Elfman, and Ugh Fudge Bwana
This classic surrealist punk-rock, low-budget, lo-fi movie by the entire Mystic Knights of the Oingo-Boingo family returns in color, black and white and covered in a delicious Special Sauce of bonus features.
I first saw this movie in black and white on a VHS I rented from a family-run video shop. It offered that same sort of bizarre fascination as Rocky Horror or Pink Flamingos when you first saw them: “WTF. Over?” What the HELL did we just see? They built sets from cardboard and butcher paper; the cast wears blackface or dances nude and everything generally looks like a rejected Katzenjammer Kids strip from 1932. The Elfman family and their co-conspirators from Oingo Boingo act everything out with a determined seriousness; and the story…well, I’ll give it a try. The Hercules family moves into a house with suspiciously low rent. Down in the basement they discover a portal to the 6th dimension and innocent René Henderson (Matthew Bright) falls in. There she’s trapped in sex slavery by evil King Fausto (Villechaize) and his buxom Queen Doris (Tyrell). Flash (Phil Gordon) and Gramps Hercules Hyman Diamond) go in to save them from the King and Queen and even Satan (Danny Elfman). Standard stuff, to be sure, but I’m pulling my punches.
What you really experience is a mind blowing romp with nudity, pimps in blackface, inexplicable performance art, giant frogs and sex, nudity and more nudity. Squeezit Henderson (Bright again) plays a put upon Chicken Boy who call on all the chickens to help him (“What can chickens do? … Precisely.”) There’s a gun battle in the classroom (Teacher wins), elaborate animations of monster bowels that poop people out into the Forbidden Zone, and a nude female sphinx. There’s even a guy singing with someone else’s lips dubbed in. Ah, the joys of no money but a ton of creativity.
The quality here is 16mm film rendered to Bluray and colorized. It’s not as sharp as other Blurays I’ve seen struck from contemporary 35mm prints, but it’s far and above the original VHS. You get both the original B&W as well as the colorized versions; we could debate the merits of each but it’s a close call. The special features are abundant and better than most; Richard Elfman leads a documentary interview with the surviving cast members, the director’s commentary is excellent, and there are the usual deleted scenes and outtakes. This is a real bragging rights movie and it one of the few I’ve seen with Forniphilia, not that I recommend looking that up on your work computer.