Forbidden World (DE - DVD R2)
Gabe Powers checks out yet another high art Roger Corman Alien rip-off...
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On planet Xarbia, an experimental life form, Subject 20, has been created by an elite group of researchers in hopes of preventing a galactic food crisis. When Subject 20 becomes deadly, the best troubleshooter in the Galaxy, Mike Colby (Jesse Vent) is called on to investigate. Much sex and violence ensues.
As you may or may not know, in the wake of his success directing lavish versions of Edgar Allen Poe stories, Roger Corman became a producer best know for not so original horror and sci-fi productions. Ridley Scott's Alien was a hit (as were George Lucas' Star Wars films) so Corman and his company were more than happy to produce Sci-Fi-action-horror hybrids throughout the early '80s. The general consensus seems to be that Galaxy of Terror, with it's young James Cameron set design work is Corman's ne plus ultra (that's right, I used it again) Alien rip off. It's a tough call, but I'm thinking for pure cheese and exploitation, Forbidden World (aka: Mutant) gets my vote.
Galaxy of Terror only works when in exploitation/rip off mode, and falls apart a bit when trying to be something deeper. Forbidden World gets down to business the second the xenomorphing mutant appears. There's enough blood, guts, prosthetics, cheap sets, and T & A to please even the most jaded bad film lover. Though the opening space battle (an obvious attempt at a quick Star Wars cash-in, and probably shot for the trailer alone) is pretty weak, and really belongs in another film all together (I'd recommend Starcrash), but by the time our hero and his robot assistant actually land on the troubled planet, the Corman machine moves into overdrive.
Colby makes short work of the female crew, getting one in bed within hours, and the other naked the next morning, not to mention the fact that the two lovely ladies share a shower a few scenes later, all ensuring the adolescent boys in the audience are satisfied. The monster itself, which evolves through-out the film, looks a whole hell of a lot like a Giger knock-off, and disposes of the crew of bad actors in variously vile ways. Gorehounds should love the fact that the creature doesn't simply eat its victims, but breaks down their molecules to pure protein with its saliva, which causes them to melt into pools of grue. The Mystery Science Theater crowd will revel in the space station sets, which are literally cardboard, and the use of Star Trek landmarks.
So then, a very good, very bad film. But there is something to be said for the sound and film editing. Corman's studio, American International (Later New World), was an ingenious operation in that it was a profitable way for young filmmakers (Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Joe Dante, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and John Sayles all worked for the studio at one time or another) to hone their craft. Editors Allan Holzman (also credited director) and Martin Nicholson were experiment with subliminal edited techniques, which doesn't work in some scenes, but in others, it takes the film a smidgen beyond smoked Gouda. The best such scene is one where a sex scene is interspliced with the grisly death of a peeping Tom video technetium.
Apparently this is the only way to see Forbidden World on DVD, so we should be happy for getting anything. Unfortunately, this happiness comes hard, as the movie doesn't look very good. The DVD is presented in what I'm assuming is the film's original l.33:1 aspect ratio, as compositions seem purposefully square, and there's no obvious side information missing. Colours are often too vibrant, causing quite a bit of bleeding, and bright bits often flare out. Darkness creates noise, making dark scenes hard to discern in parts, and edge enhancement is very, very prevalent. It's never impossible to watch, though. I'd equate it to a decent VHS copy of any obscure film.
The mono audio isn't bad. There is some minor dialogue muddling and effects distortion, but I got pretty much every word, and the silly but effective soundtrack came through clearly enough. The film's budget limitations are pretty clear, as B-Movie fans will recognize a collection of reused genre sound effects throughout. One tends to not expect much out of such a release, and one will not be surprised here. Passable but entirely unremarkable.
We've got the usual trailer and brief biographies (in German), but the surprise on this disc is a playable version of the entire original soundtrack. It's great cheesy electro-pop for your next Halloween party. The sound mix is pretty solid, and the track selection interface is easily navigated by English only speakers.
Only 77 minutes in length, there are worse ways to waste your time, but b-movie fans should be in hog heaven. There's nothing worse than a boring bad movie, and Forbidden World cannot be accused of languishing on any one scene or issue too long. Like junk food, unprotected sex, and heroine, you know it's really bad for you, but it feels so damned good. I recommend this disc to those with the correct pallets, but take no responsibility for damaged brain cells. The A/V quality is pretty sub-par, but kind of adds to the whole stupid experience.
You can purchase this and other imports from my friends at Xploitedcinema.com
Review by Gabriel Powers
For persons aged 16 years and over
Release Date: 22nd August 2002
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono German
Extras: Trailers, Original Soundtrack
Easter Egg: No
Director: Allan Holzman
Cast: Jesse Vint, June Chadwick, Dawn Dunlap
Genre: Horror and Sci-Fi
Length: 77 minutes
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