Forbidden World (1982)
By: Stuart Giesel on February 7, 2013 | Comments
Shout! Factory | Region A | 1.78:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 | 77 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Allan Holzman
Starring: Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, June Chadwick, Linden Chiles, Fox Harris
Screenplay: Tim Curnen
Country: USA
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In what can be likened to a more sadistic, twisted brother of Roger Corman-produced Galaxy of Terror (the films even share the same McDonald's fabricated spaceship set), Forbidden World doesn't hold back on the gore, resulting in something that more resembles a nastier version of Carpenter's The Thing rather than building on Galaxy of Terror's disturbing grue and parlour of mindfuck games.

Generic space hero Mike (Jessie Vint) - who has a kill first and ask questions later attitude, and a Shatneresque/James T. Kirk approach to bedding nubile women - is due for a holiday but at the last minute is diverted to the planet Xarbia where a science experiment has gone wrong. It turns out that scientists at a research base, headed by the stubborn Dr Gordon Hauser (Linden Chiles), have been trying to genetically engineer a new source of food, but have inadvertently created a beast - named Subject 20 - that is able to mutate and is unfortunately quite murderous. Mike spends his time bedding the female staff, Dr Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick) and Tracy Baxter (Dawn Dunlap). Grubby doc Cal (Fox Harris in a scenery-chewing performance akin to what Christopher Lloyd delivers as Back to the Future's Doc Brown a few years from when this was made) is the most notable member of the male crew, who soon learns of the creature's amazing morphing ability and works out a strategy to defeat it. However, other than Cal, the crew do not pay heed to Mike's warnings that the creature is dangerous and best disposed of. Naturally, as is the case in these sorts of movies, the creature runs amok, killing people on the base and breaking down their bodies for food so that it can grow and mutate some more.

Forbidden World is a nasty, grimy piece of work, infused with the typical Corman sleaze to ensure bums-on-seats (pointless nudity and sex - there's even a sauna and weird electron shower just for these purposes!) but it's the gore that is truly the highlight here. Forget Rob Bottin's gloopy effects work on The Thing - Forbidden World ups the ante (I'm talking quantity, not quality here) with some repulsively icky stuff, like people dissolving into piles of goo and body parts dropping off with abandon. The creature itself mutates throughout the film, going from a weird stringy creature to a black face-hugger and finally to a big, dumb piece of shit with massive rows of teeth, and none of these really work all that well. It's hard for the actors to look convincingly scared when they're being chased by something that looks like a smiling pile of melted licorice. But the carnage the mutant causes is reason for celebration - Forbidden World is a gruesome delight. There's an early scene that shows the result of the creature's work, where it has destroyed the entire caged animal population. I thought to myself that the effects work here was superb and stomach-churning, not just for a Roger Corman film but any horror film in general. Then I find out in the making of feature that the animals were all real, and that bodies were acquired locally to dress out the disturbing scene. Yep, it's that sort of movie.

It's also that sort of movie where logic takes a back seat, not just in the back of the proverbial bus, but in another bus entirely. The dangerous Subject 20, for example, is housed in a container with a front panel that a gentle breeze could escape out of, and the idiotic assistant decides to stick his face in there just for the hell of it. A creature is on the loose in the compound and Dawn decides to have a sauna with absolutely no concern for her safety. The creature itself is somehow able to grow ten times in size in absolutely no time at all even though it has barely enough food to sustain itself for a few hours - that's evolution! And the way the creature is disposed of is admittedly creative, I'll give the film that, but also incredibly ludicrous and conveniently quick.

Sets are cheap and have spared all expenses (the Quest interior from Galaxy of Terror with its McDonald's packages was reused in a prologue to this film that serves no purpose). The electronic score irritates - just when you think it's going to settle into a fairly unobtrusive main theme, it breaks out into a screechy, horrifying wail that I think is meant to signify some sort of futuristic instrument played by one of the cast, but just sounds like a cat shoved into a sack and jabbed with a bayonet. What I'm trying to say, is that the score is fucked. The dialogue isn't much better, from the endless scientific mumbo-jumbo exposition provided by Cal to the weary dross that our hero Mike is forced to say.

And yet, I can't help but love Forbidden World simply because it's a nasty little exploitation cheapie, even if it doesn't really follow through on the promise of its genetic mutation premise. It's by no means a good film even by Corman standards - Galaxy of Terror is more disturbing, Humanoids from the Deep is more goofy fun and Death Race 2000 is more subversive and entertaining. But its willingness to creatively spill guts and gloop outweighs its shortcomings, and at a brisk 77 minutes it's over before you know it.
The Disc
The Blu-Ray video quality of Forbidden World is excellent - detail is sharp and clear, colours are extremely vibrant (check out that blood!) and even if the picture doesn't exactly leap off the screen in the way you hope (it is a little flat) all the cheesy sets and icky gore shine through. The video quality of the second disc (DVD) containing the director's cut of Forbidden World (named Mutant) is another story entirely. This is a shoddy, barely watchable presentation that looks like a tenth-generation VHS recording and is extremely dark, rendering entire scenes almost unwatchable. Though it's a nice addition to have this alternative cut included in the set, it's a bit of a slog to sit through when the picture is so awful.

Discounting the fact that good chunks of the score are either immediately forgettable or teeth-grindingly awful, Forbidden World's audio does the job but not much more than that. Like Galaxy of Terror and Humanoids from the Deep, the soundtrack on Forbidden World isn't really immersive or impressive, but it's functional.

Once again, Shout! Factory have compiled a good assortment of extras, even if they don't quite match those found in their release of Galaxy of Terror.

The first thing you'll probably notice is the inclusion of a second disc - DVD, not Blu-Ray - containing the director's cut of Forbidden World, known here as Mutant. Apparently according to visual effects artist Tony Randel (now a director in his own right) in the making of feature, director and editor Allan Holzman's original cut of Forbidden World was a lot wittier than what we ended up with, as producer Corman decided to cut a lot of the so-called witty banter between the crew. Well, here with the Mutant cut, we can see how Holzman's version compares with the theatrical release. To be honest, other than a few lines and one extended scene it was hard for me to see the difference between the two versions - all the gore of Forbidden World is intact here, so all it seems like you get here is a bit more dialogue, which isn't exactly His Girl Friday witty. Unfortunately the visual quality of Mutant is terrible, so watching this director's cut becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.

The Making of Forbidden World is the standout feature, if you don't count the inclusion of the Mutant director's cut, and provides a dry if informative look at the making of the Corman schlock-fest, including interviews with Holzman, Randel, lead actor Jessie Vint and composer Susan Justin amongst others. As with other making of features on Shout! Factory's Corman releases, this is a must-see for fans, and is interesting even if you weren't so fond of the finished results, as there are some fascinating stories for anyone remotely interested in low budget filmmaking. There's are also two interview featurettes, one with Roger Corman who explains the conception of and decisions made on Forbidden World, and the other with makeup artist John Carl Beuchler, who provides a passionate discussion on the creation of the film's gruesome effects.

The rest of the features include still galleries of Forbidden World designs and posters, a bunch of Corman trailers, and a reversible Blu-Ray cover and booklet.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Not as entertaining as Humanoids from the Deep nor as creepy or unsettling as Galaxy of Terror, what Forbidden World does have is gore in spades, even managing to outdo The Thing in terms of gloopy, body-altering effects, as if David Cronenberg had happened to work on the visual effects in his spare time. The plot and characters are threadbare, production is cheap, but this still remains a deliciously nasty, if often idiotic, treat.

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