Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FORBIDDEN WORLD (Blu-ray)

"You know what? It looks like you could really use the steam bath!"

When Roger Corman realized that he had a few days left before the spaceship set from GALAXY OF TERROR was going to be torn down to make room for a new piece of scenery, he went to New World editor Allan Holzman - who had been lobbying for a chance to direct - and made him a deal: if he could come up with an idea/script for a scene and shoot it before the set was struck, he'd let Holzman direct a feature using the sequence as a starting point.

The feature that resulted, FORBIDDEN WORLD (a/k/a MUTANT, 1982) is a delightfully sleazy outer space monster flick that serves up enough blood, guts, gratuitous nudity and splattery violence to sate the appetite of any exploitation film fan.

Galactic troubleshooter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint, I COME IN PEACE) and his robot sidekick SAM-104 (Don Olivera, in a robot suit of his own making) escape from some hostile space pirates with the help of some stock FX footage from BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS (this was the sequence mentioned above) before heading for a research station on the planet Xerbia, which has sent out a call for assistance. Upon his arrival, he discovers that the scientific staff (which includes a couple of hot, horny babes, of course) has accidentally created a new, mutant lifeform, and it's loose in the complex. Taking time out only to score with the female scientists, Colby immediately sets out to kill the creature, but since it keeps changing its shape and genetic structure, it's not as easy as it sounds.

FORBIDDEN WORLD is an utter joy, with its space station corridors made out of styrofoam Big Mac containers (remember those?) and egg cartons, a brief visit to the ever-popular Vasquez Rocks, gooey make-up effects by John Carl Buechler and his crew, a rubber monster (actually, several of them), and two lovely ladies (Dawn Dunlap, BARBARIAN QUEEN, and June Chadwick, the original V) who just can't seem to keep their clothes on in a crisis. The screenplay by Tim Curnen is pure formula monster mayhem, but I'll give him credit - his solution to the mutant problem is pretty unique. The cast seems to know exactly what sort of movie they're in and perform accordingly, obviously having fun with their cliche roles. Holzman's direction is efficient and fast-paced (doesn't hurt that he edited the flick, too), with a few brief "arty" moments that elevate it slightly over other films of similar budget and intent. And, coming in at a brisk 77 minutes, FORBIDDEN WORLD doesn't overstay its welcome.

During test screenings under the title MUTANT, Corman was reportedly incensed by the deliberate humor that Holzman and Curnen had inserted into the film, and demanded that the comedy be removed. He also changed the title (believing that no one would know what "mutant" meant) and created a classic Corman - if inaccurate - ad campaign featuring a scantily-clad woman being menaced by a space gargoyle. It worked - the film was highly profitable - but Holzman wasn't happy with the changes.

Shout! Factory's 2-disc set includes not only a beautiful, 1.77:1 1080p HD widescreen transfer from original Interpositive film elements of FORBIDDEN WORLD on Blu-Ray, but Holzman's original cut of MUTANT on a separate, standard DVD. The MUTANT transfer is full-frame 1.33:1 and apparently sourced from a beat-up video master, but it's a wonderful bonus, and includes a director's commentary track.

On the main disc, the company again goes above and beyond with informative and fascinating behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews with the cast and crew. There's also an extensive look at the film's old school practical effects and large still gallery. The package is rounded out with several New World trailers, a 12-page booklet, and another reversible sleeve, this time featuring the alternate MUTANT title and key art.

FORBIDDEN WORLD is a good, old-fashioned blood 'n boobs monster flick and fans of such movies shouldn't be disappointed. With its tongue-in-cheek tone and abundant exploitative elements, Holzman's film - under either title - really delivers the goods.

Highly recommended.

BUY: Forbidden World (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]

BUY: Forbidden World (Roger Corman's Cult Classics)[DVD]