"If it is intelligent, have you thought about trying to communicate with it?"
That's about the stupidest damn idea I've heard all day. No offense, Barb."
Let;s get one thing straight right way: Allan Holzman's FORBIDDEN WORLD is a work of pure genius. One of my fondest moviegoing memories is going to see this mangy mutt of a science fiction thriller with a good friend back in 1982 in a theater along with five or six other unsuspecting moviegoers (on a double bill with Paul Schrader's CAT PEOPLE remake, of all things). We knew we were in for a special experience right from the pre-credits sequence which consists of a flashforward montage of almost every bit of nudity and gore in the film followed by a space battle made up almost entirely of stock footage from BATTLE BEYOND THE EARTH. It was at this point that one of my fellow theatergoers, a gentleman sitting a few rows away from us, yelled in his loudest voice, "No wonder it's forbidden, it sucks!"
The film follows interstellar troubleshooter Mike Colby (b-movie veteran Jesse Vint), who is awakened from suspended animation along with his faithful droid companion SAM 104 to investigate some strange goings on at a scientific research station on the plant Xarbia. It seems that one of their test subjects, Subject 20, has mutated into something angry and hungry. It seems that Colby's unique view of interspecies relations ("If it moves and it's not one of ours, shoot it") is just the ticket to save the day before the station's crew becomes lunch.
FORBIDDEN WORLD was one of the last of producer Roger Corman's attempts to cash in on the success of STAR WARS and ALIEN and in my opinion it's clearly the best. It's missing the saccharin qualities of BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS and the pacing issues that plagued GALAXY OF TERROR. FORBIDDEN WORLD is a lean mean little movie that realizes exactly how ridiculous and unoriginal it is without ever succumbing to the level of parody. This may not have been intentional since reportedly Corman was unhappy with the amount of humor in the film and forced Holzman to remove almost all of it, the result being that scenes that may have once been played for laughs are now played completely straight, making them even funnier.
There's much to love in this movie including a genuinely good performance by the late Fox Harris as the station's chain-smoking, cancer-ridden head scientist. Harris specialized in playing oddballs and would later turn up in another '80s classic, REPO MAN, playing the irradiated driver of the car that everyone in the film is chasing after. Also of note is the final method of disposing of the monster. I won't spoil it here but suffice it to say that you probably haven't seen anything quite like it before. From it's nonsensical opening to the philosophical ramblings of SAM 104 ("They switch you off when life is good and switch you back on when they're up to their noses in life's bitter droppings") to the jaw-dropping, bloodsoaked finale, FORBIDDEN WORLD is a joy from start to finish. I've seen this film more times than can possibly be healthy since that evening at the much missed College Theater in Swarthmore, PA. I never get tired of it and it always puts a smile on my face when I'm up to my nose in life's bitter droppings.
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