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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Forbidden World (1982) review


Jesse Vint (Mike Colby), June Chadwick (Dr. Barbara Glaser), Dawn Dunlap (Tracy Baxter), Linden Chiles (Dr. Gordon Hauser), Fox Harris (Dr. Cal Timbergen) Scott Paulin (Earl Richards)

Directed by Allan Holzman

***WARNING! This review contains pics of gruesome violence and nudity***

Intergalactic space ranger, Mike Colby and his robotic partner, SAM 104, are summoned to the planet Xarbia to investigate an altercation that has taken place at a medical research laboratory stationed on the desert biosphere. In creating a solution for a galaxy wide food crisis, the scientists on Xarbia create an organism called a Metamorph, a creature made up of a bacterial substance called Proto-B and mixed with human cells. The scientists call the being Subject 20. The experiment gets out of control and the monstrosity escapes the lab changing its form and grows at an alarming rate. By the time the true origin of the alien creature is revealed, it is nearly too late. Tapping into the stations computers, communication is cut off and the remaining survivors must find a way of killing the mutation.

Editor turned Director, Holzman does a fine job with what little material he has to work with from a script by frequent trash peddler, Jim Wynorski. Despite the onslaught of sex, nudity, grue and gore, there is an attempt to create something more than an exercise in exploitation moviemaking. Holzman puts his editing skills to use here creating scenes that alternate between the artistic and the disgusting.

One such practice seen several times during the movie is a subliminal effect showing an increasingly rapid succession of shots of images that have yet to take place or are transpiring elsewhere. There's a fairly torrid sex scene between Barbara and Mike while Earl, a watchman, plays peeping tom. When he's alerted to the location of the escaped Subject 20 he searches the corridors of the station while flashes of Barbara and Mike having sex appear on screen.

This technique continues during the scene when Earl is killed by the monster. The mixing of sex and death is one of the uncomfortable elements seen in FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982). John Carl Buechler (as J.C. Buechler) worked on the effects for the movie and they're good for what had to have been an extremely low budget; evidently much smaller than the previous years GALAXY OF TERROR and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980), a film that Corman splurged more frivolously than normal. The monster itself has some twisted affinity towards the female cast in the film.

During a scene in which Tracy Baxter takes off her clothes in her room, a POV shot from inside a ventilation duct shows the alien watching her from above. As she gets naked changing into her skimpy night attire, slime covers the camera lens. A similar scene occurs late in the film when, after the monster has tied itself into the stations computer system, one of the women gets an idea to communicate with the creature in the hopes of getting out of the scientific laboratory alive. Typing into the computer, "Can we co-exist?" the monster responds by slithering a huge phallic shaped tentacle over the computer board and between her legs. Suddenly, the appendage erupts from the poor woman's back shooting a geyser of blood into the air.

A budget is something FORBIDDEN WORLD had very little of. Production technicians came up with some ingenious methods with which to create the interiors of the station hallways and rooms. The walls are adorned with dozens of egg crates and McDonald's sandwich boxes. GALAXY OF TERROR (1981) utilized this simplistic innovation but was far more successful at making such set additions appear less obvious.

Another money saving device was used during the opening space battle. Mike Colby is awakened from suspended animation by his robot partner, SAM 104 when his ship comes under fire by attacking space ships. The space battle is stock footage borrowed from Corman's BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (1980). However, there are some new shots of the spacecraft as well as shots of the research lab.

This is also a particularly messy film with a lot of blood, guts, pus and slime that overtakes the picture 17 minutes into the film when Subject 20 gets loose the second time latching onto a victims face eating its way into his skull. The first evidence of Subject 20's rampage (we only hear about it), it successfully killed all the experimental animals in the lab as we see a worker cleaning up dead carcasses near the beginning.

It's later learned that the Metamorph uses its victims as a permanent food source (after the casualty is exposed to the Proto-B substance, the cells break down into protein constantly dividing and creating a new food source) akin to planting vegetables in a garden. This allows the special effects crew to showcase some gooey and gruesome sequences of mutilated bodies dissolving into mush, continuously breaking apart into more piles of mutating human remains.

This film also contains one sequence that is remembered over everything else. The method by which the hero kills the alien is one of the most oddball and creatively disgusting to ever hit a movie screen. The creator of Subject 20 has a cancerous tumor on his liver. He discovers that the only way to kill the metamorph is by feeding it the tumor. Mike cuts Cal's stomach open (without the use of morphine!) and rips the tumor free of his liver. Of course the good doctor dies during the removal, and the creature bursts into the room at that moment. Mike manages to shove the cancerous growth into the monsters mouth causing the thing to regurgitate its insides dying in the process. The sight of a huge barfing alien is quite original even if the rest of the film isn't.

The characters are either barely developed or not at all. But nobody comes to a New World Picture for characterization. What little there is leaves just barely enough for the audience to get some idea of who these people are and at 77 minutes, there is scant time for that. What the film does offer is a high quotient of sex and violence; everything that makes an enjoyably sleazy horror picture. Producer Roger Corman was a master at such things and had an amazing eye for talent. Holzman didn't achieve quite the success so many of his colleagues did, but he delivers a tight, sometimes suspenseful monster movie.

The women are very hot and have no problems taking their clothes off on multiple occasions. June Chadwick, whose sex scene was discussed above, also takes a nude "shower" (there's no water just frequent flashes of kaleidoscopic light that provides the same function as water) with the beautiful Dawn Dunlap. Chadwick went on to portray the human eating alien lizard woman, Lydia, in the shortlived V television series (born out of the successful mini series V and V: THE FINAL BATTLE) that lasted for one season.

Sadly, Dawn Dunlap did very little film work after her impressive stint on this Corman quickie. One of several nude scenes with Dunlap sees her stripping off in a steam room when Vint's character enters. Having just had a round of sexual gratification with Dr. Glaser, Mike now sets his sights on Tracy (Dunlap) when the alien crashes the party.

While the participants all take the film seriously, patrons attending the sneak preview did not according to a story in Beverly Gray's excellent tome on her time working for Roger Corman (as well as before and after). Apparently, a heckler with a particularly loud, abrasive laugh infuriated Corman to no end resulting in the producer smacking the man in the head for chuckling at his production. After the showing, the jokester poured a container of Coca Cola over Corman's head as he was exiting the theater.

Nearly a decade later, Corman would produce a remake of Holzman's notorious ALIEN styled horror film. Entitled DEAD SPACE (1991), this near shot for shot remake had popular actor, Marc Singer (THE BEASTMASTER, V) in the title role. It was a very dismal picture and lacked any of the exploitation delights that make FORBIDDEN WORLD (1982) so memorable.

Despite limited means to bring his vision to life, FORBIDDEN WORLD provides less discriminating viewers a lot of skin, goo and gore for their dollar. A shame the only way to see the movie is through an English friendly German DVD that has less than great picture quality that looks only slightly better than a VHS tape. However, the Anolis DVD bears the original title of MUTANT followed by a German subtitle, DAS GRAUEN AUS DEM ALL. It's worth seeking out just to see the movie as there's no other way to do so at the moment lest you find the old VHS release. This DVD has the original film score listed as an extra yet it's not accessible through the main menu. Highly recommended, yet derivative science fiction horror hybrid for Drive in and Grindhouse sleaze fanatics.

This review is representative of the German Anolis DVD (R2).


Sean M said...

Watched this the day after viewing GALAXY OF TERROR and while the lower budget for FORBIDDEN WORLD meant less impressive visuals it's still just as much fun.In fact some of the gruesome effects are pretty stunning,but i also loved the humour(the feeding of the cancerous tumour to the monster was hilarious)not to mention the mass abundance of tits and ass.

9 out of 10.

venoms5 said...

This is a great trashy little movie. The remake DEAD SPACE from the early 90s is nowhere near as fun. Marc Singer was about the only good thing about it, and I wouldn't even recommend seeking it out if you're a fan of his. It's pretty terrible. If I remember right, there's even stock footage from some of Corman's space movies used in it, too.

Corman got a lot of mileage out of BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS by recycling ships and space battles as well as the score for a lot of movies afterwards. FORBIDDEN WORLD uses some of STARS' ship scenes during the opening. GALAXY OF TERROR, though, was all new footage.

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