The Plot: Professional troubleshooter Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) has just woke up from a deep cryogenic freeze that lasted a lifetime. He is given orders to find a genetic research lab on the desert planet of Xarbia and discover why they have sent out a distress signal. When he arrives he discovers that the lab has been playing with genetic mutations and they have created a bizarre lifeform known as a metamorph. This being, which is at first being incubated inside of a pod, is soon let loose from its cocoon only to reek havoc on the station. Now it is up to Colby to figure out how to destroy this growing monster. It seems invulnerable to all known weapons and it has an insatiable craving for protein. Turns out human beings don’t have enough protein for it to really use, so it first has to infect any human being it comes in contact with and then that turns said human being into a massive gelatin-like blob of pure protein that it can feast off of for a much longer period of time. Will Colby save the day or will the crew end up as this monster’s food?
In my review for Galaxy of Terror, I talked a lot about the big names that Roger Corman helped to establish through his company New World pictures. Forbidden World, the final part in a trilogy of science fiction films produced by Corman (Battle Beyond the Stars, Galaxy of Terror and of course Forbidden World) during the eighties showcases his discovery of unknown talents. Although the names aren’t as high profile as those in Galaxy of Terror this seems to have given a slight bit more freedom (extra freedom on a Corman set?) to the project and that in turn helps create something even more interesting. Allan Holzman takes a bare bones budget and actually crafts an otherworldly piece of scifi-horror-comedy. Although still obviously trapped in the confines of a Roger Corman movie, a b-movie regardless of any intentions, it manages to throw enough curve balls at genre convention that I think despite the hokey sets and obvious budgetary restraints put on the movie – it actually becomes the better film between it and Galaxy of Terror.
Allan Holzman who has went on to become a documentary filmmaker for the better part of his career, started off as an editor with Corman (like so many directors) and eventually proved himself fit to take on a movie all by himself. Holzman, as can be seen in the supplemental features on the Shout Factory DVD, is an interesting human being who has had to overcome a great deal during the course of his life and career. The first half of his career his speech impediment, a stuttering problem, even forced him to have others speak for him. Facing his problem better while directing rather than when speaking normally, he managed to actually create a legitimately funny little scifi gem here in Forbidden World. Although the movie had much of the comedy removed at Roger Corman’s behest, the original Forbidden World still retains that comedy element that works tremendously well regardless of the conditions. Featured on this DVD is the original Holzman cut for the film which retains a lot of the little added bits of humor that actually helps the film out a great deal.
Keeping in line with Galaxy of Terror, Corman was once again looking to rip off the Alien franchise and thus the movie goes after a hard R rating. Featuring a great deal of gory violence and disgusting creature FX, Forbidden World may be considered a must see simply for the latex and practical visual FX alone. There are some bloody death sequences throughout the movie, including holes chewed through faces and bodies turned into gelatinous goo in a very slow and excruciating manner. Some of the bodies which are turned into gooey puddles are downright disgusting, even for a old gorehound like myself. The real money shot for the movie in terms of practical FX-work is certainly the lead monster itself, the metamorph. Featuring a face that looks a lot like the creature from Ridley Scott’s movie Alien, it features a giant body that resembles Jaba the Hutt with pinchers. This body was likely a bad idea, since the monster needed to make very swift and quick movements which come across as phony when you take into account how big the monster actually is. Still, the physical appearance of the monster is quite threatening and it works pretty well despite it looking pretty fake at times.
This is a Roger Corman picture however and despite the slight hints of black comedy (which comes across via irony, small inside jokes and one-liners) you have to expect a certain level of cheapness and lowest-common-denominator thinking. This movie, despite everything, is a takeoff on Alien. The small confined area, the monster on the loose picking off crew members and the obvious appearance of the monster are all tell tale signs of this. Along the way Corman manages to riff on Star Trek (the sandy wastelands of this Forbidden World are very reminiscent of the TV show) as well as Star Wars. The Star Wars references seem quite plentiful, with our leading man’s right-hand-robot Sam looking a LOT like a storm trooper and his ship actually vaguely having the appearance of the Millennium Falcon. These could just be similarities that have nothing to do with one another, but knowing Corman I find that doubtful.
The project started on the set of Galaxy of Terror when Corman knew that he would have one day with a large set that would be torn down over the weekend. He then called up Holzman, as he knew he wanted to direct and asked him to come up with a small script for the opening of a movie he described as “Lawrence of Arabia – in Space”. The scene was shot with Jesse Vint who Corman had promised a leading role and then three months later they came back with a full script and shot the rest of the movie.
The “Lawrence of Arabia – in Space” idea was nixed early on in the full script writing sessions when Corman realized how expensive the production would be. So instead he simply asked for a “Alien ripoff”.
The poster for the film can be seen on the desk of Jonah Hill’s character in the movie Get Him to the Greek.
The performances are by and large fairly weak, due likely to the tensions of having to shoot so fast and for so cheap, but that is the Corman way. The writing is actually where the movie tends to shine the most. The dialogue is relatively witty for a movie such as this and Jesse Vint actually revels in the role of a cocky “trouble shooter”, despite some fairly awkward moments along the way. I give the movie the same rating that I did Galaxy of Terror, but if I were to recommend you see just one of these two it would be Forbidden World even though the dreamlike epic visual strengths of Terror are definitely worth checking into.