Sunday, April 16, 2006

Forbidden World

(1982, 77 min.)

Starring Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, June Chadwick, Linden Chiles, Fox Harris, Raymond Oliver, Scott Paulin, Michael Bowen, Don Olivera.

Written by Tim Curnen, from a story by R. J. Robertson and Jim Wynorski.

Directed by Allan Holzman.

A government mercenary (Vint) is summoned to assist a scientific colony on a distant planet. When he arrives, they explain that one of their genetic experiments has gone zip-a-dee-doo-dah on them and may now pose a deadly threat. Seems the thing can absorb itself into a human being and break down the DNA into its own, effectively reproducing itself. Or some such shit.

A decently mounted, though rather poorly executed riff on the Alien motif, produced by Roger Corman, in one of his countless attempts to cash in on the success of another film. (Though as this came out three years after the film it was aping, it doesn't put it in the impressive rank of, say, Carnasaur, a Jurassic Park rip-off that Corman got released to theaters before Jurassic Park! Take that, Señor Spielbergo!)

This is also apparently a pseudo-sequel to Galaxy of Terror, a film that I haven't seen, though I do remember a grade school friend of mine raving about it for two reasons: one, that Erin Moran was in it (Joanie from Happy Days), and two, that there was some scene where one of the alien beasties pulled a girl's face right off of her skull. One of these days I'll get around to confirming that last bit. I'd be especially interested to see, if that scene exists, how well they pulled it off (no pun intended). The gore effects in this film, which of course came after, are pretty good. They're actually one of the better things about it and will, along with the ample amounts of nudity, help horror fans get through some of the sillier bits. And they’ll need it, as some of the bits are quite silly indeed.

I am utterly in favor of horror films being artistic, but this can unfortunately lead to directors getting themselves in a bit over their heads. In this case, director Holzman has framed the film with two sequences that have Vint in suspended animation, while images from the movie run through his mind. At no point in the rest of the film is this given any explanation, leaving us to assume that the last scene is him remembering the events and the first one is some sort of precognition, which we're not told that he has and which is not mentioned or used in any other context.

Worse still is a scene where Vint and Chadwick get it on in her room. As they do, Earl (Paulin), who is in charge of the security cameras, spies on them, all the while playing with this fluorescent yo-yo type thing that spins when you pull on two strings that come out of its sides (I believe this toy has a name, but I can't remember what it is). The thing makes a buzzing noise when it spins and shots of the camera closing in on his face while the toy spins are intercut with shots of the two hump-buddies. Set to a typically synthetic '80's sci-fi soundtrack the cuts get quicker and quicker until they're bouncing back and forth faster than a speeding bullshit. Needless to say this has a comic effect that I don't think they were shooting for.

So, aside from the lesbo-disco-shower scene, which was admittedly kind of a kick, they probably should've booted the artsy stuff to the curb and stuck to the straight horror bits, which work fairly well. Well enough at least to deem this an “acceptable timewaster,” a term invaluable to any serious connoisseur of the B movie. This Is Spinal Tap devotees will recognize Chadwick as the Yoko Ono of that film, and Harris, who turns in one of the better performances here, was the delirious, lobotomized J. Frank Parnell from Repo Man (“You ever heard of the neutron bomb?”)

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