The Forbidden Zone (1982) Review

Forbidden Zone in Color movie posterI’ve already written extensively on my adoration for composer and former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman – so no need to waste valuable finger-energy on keystroking him here.

No, today I’m here to sing the ballad of his older, more outgoing, and much gayer brother Richard Elfman. For, this past Friday, myself and my older, more outgoing and much gayer fellow Screwhead Jeffrey Kieviet attended a screening of the symposium of strangeness and surreality that is Richard’s The Forbidden Zone. We did not consume any mind altering substances before doing so, and neither should you if you plan to view this movie.

That’s a lie. I don’t know what I said that for.

The Elfmans
The Elfman Brothers

The man himself, the brother of the famous composer, attended and got himself good and drunk to play the devil (a role originated by Danny) during the screening. It was his birthday, you see, and he wanted to show his continuing love for his fans and fellow cultists. He even offered to answer any intimate questions about the Elfman family, though there were surprisingly few. In a white tailcoat and horns, Mr. Elfman entertained the crowd while the girls of his group Cell-63 offered to remove their Forbidden Zone t-shirts if only you’d buy them for $15 (the shirts, not the girls). There was a lot of electrical tape in play this night.

Aaaaaanyway, we’d seen this movie before at another screening some years back, one also attended by Richard Elfman and a few cast members (back when more of them were still alive). This time, however, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the film has grown in popularity in the past half-decade; this particular screening was accompanied by a shadow-cast, ala Rocky Horror. Not only that, an opening act was provided for us in the form of the Radioactive Chickenheads, a local Orange County band fronted by a singing carrot. The carrot could have used better enunciation of his words, but the fact remained: Mr. Elfman was pulling out all the stops. IMG_6305

He seeks, you see, to fund a Forbidden Zone 2. He is, in his own words, “fuckin’ passionate” about it, in fact. Mr. Elfman let us watch a trailer featuring himself as a club-wielding clown that gets assaulted and nearly raped by a demon wench; he intends to launch his crowdfunding effort on March 18th. So be there at if you want to participate! I probably will be. Because, while for the life of me I’m not sure why, I love the first Forbidden Zone.

It’s a musical comedy – I guess – and happens to be the first film ever scored by Danny Elfman, later to provide us with the bombastic Batman Theme and the bluesy Oogie Boogie’s Song. So there’s that. It’s a film based upon the stage shows of the band Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo – later just Oingo Boingo – founded by Richard and fronted by Danny. I’ve already said that I’d be there – wherever there is, anywhere – to see an Oingo Boingo reunion, but we all know that’s not happening. Is it? A drunk Richard Elfman may have teased us that it could be on Friday.

Anyway, enough of my nerdy jazz-punk-ska ramblings and back to the film review at hand: Forbidden Zone is, ostensibly, about a young boy played by an old man who lives in the house of a former pimp and drug dealer and accidentally ends up in an alternate universe ruled by the midget from Fantasy Island. If you take into consideration that this is what the film is, the plot is fairly straightforward from there. The main characters, who are from the real world, I guess, already seem like rejects from the Addams Family; so when they end up in the mystical and surreal Forbidden Zone, which is entered by way of a Gilliam-esque animation of a bizarre sewer pipe, they almost fit in.

There’s a lot of humor in this film that you’d be drawn and quartered if you tried to get away with today; heavy blackface, for example. The film also features a shootout in a school – played for laughs- as it was made years before school shootings became an actual occurrence. Come to think of it, I’m not totally sure how they got away with this movie in the eighties. I’m actually not totally sure they did get away with it, really.

But I digress. Back to the story:

Herve-Color1Flash Hercules, the main character, is forced to enter his house’s portal to the sixth dimension to save his French sister and his chicken-man friend’s transgender sister; but, due to the midget king’s having fallen in love with her, the wicked queen has commanded her frog butler to-

Fuck it.

I can’t explain the plot of this movie, nor can I give it a proper review. You need to watch it, preferably not in an entirely sober mindset, and get back to me. If, like myself, you have a passionate love for all things truly bizarre and ridiculous, then you will love The Forbidden Zone. If, on the other hand, you value logic, reason, clarity, and high production values, when you view this movie you will die of a hypnagogic brain aneurysm.

Either way, it’ll be worth the effort.

Go to their facebook page and help them fund their movie:!

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