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John’s Horror Corner: Forbidden World (1982), the most awesome, exploitative result of combining Alien, The Thing, a lot of boobage and D-budget!

September 13, 2013

MY CALL:  The most awesome, exploitative result of combining Alien, The Thing, a lot of boobage and D-budget.  For bad horror entertainment value I give this an A+!  MOVIES LIKE Forbidden WorldGalaxy of Terror (1981), Leviathan (1989), The Thing (2011), The Thing (1981).  ALTERNATIVE TITLEMutant, which sounds like a much less appropriate title for the Roger Corman Galaxy of Terror follow-up, but is more appropriate given the actual nature of the movie.

This review is of the unrated Director’s Cut, which has a running time of 82 minutes (5 minutes longer than the 77 min for the theatrical version).  I’m guessing that whatever people saw in theaters, this will just be more of that.  As it turns out, in this case, all 5 of those extra unrated minutes are apparently of boobs.  For real!  Like 5-10% of this movie’s running time probably has boobs in it.  That’s more than Piranha 3DD, whose title screams of boobage!

Our story begins with Commander Colby (a reckless mix of Han Solo and Snake Plisskin) and his robot crewman on a spaceship under attack from some other random spaceship.  With lame effects and nothing at stake; it’s no Star Wars Tie-fighter dogfight, that’s for sure.  After surviving this brief mess, his robot dishes out the bad news that mission directives are sending him to some planet instead of home.  So they set a course for Xarbia.  Is it me, or do a shocking number of sci-fi movie planets seem to have a “z” sound?

Colby travels to an isolated research facility where risky work with genetic engineering is conducted to create a productive new food source for mankind.  Colby meets Dr. Hauser, the sultry Dr. Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick; V, The Last Horror Film), the adorably pink-outfitted Tracy (Dawn Dunlap; Barbarian Queen), and a few other people who are hardly introduced–probably because they’re going to be the first to die…spoiler alert.  The female researchers are both inordinately hot, dress in sexy pajamas unbefitting of a space station, they both make passes at Colby and, not surprisingly, we see them both naked several times.

Just a few examples of how the interplanetary research station dress code matches that of a 1970s sorority house.

What is surprising is that they both made a pass at Colby!  I mean, sure, he has the title Commander and a uniform.  But he’s pretty homely-looking as far as space cadets go…

He looks like James Caan, but a few chromosomes short.

The researchers introduce Colby to one of their experiments: “Subject 20”, a metamorphic mutant that continuously changes its genetic structure as it develops.  Hauser and his team of scientists are excited about it and think it’s wicked awesome, but the no-nonsense Colby just thinks it should be destroyed.  No surprise here, but it turns out Colby was right!

The engineered mutant cocoons itself into a pulsating mess (which actually looks like someone hung a dead facehugger like a Halloween decoration) to transform to its next state–that of a black jellyfish thing–which leaps on some dude’s face (again like a facehugger) eats his brain and infects his body with its saliva which keeps the guy alive but brain dead.

A facehugger-like “cocoon” utilizing laboratory and natural habitats.

The plot plays out a bit like Alien/Aliens (1979/1986) meets The Thing (1981), with members of the crew dying in analogous ways (e.g., the robot, like Bishop, has its torso separated from its lower body).  The monster grows rapidly from a football-sized jellyfish to a toothy-mawed abomination and infected human bodies slowly transform into foamy carrion sludgy undying masses as the creature virally exploits and re-appropriates each cell’s function.  When we finally see a full grown monster, it looks like a hybrid of a giant rubber black widow and an Alien xenomorph.

He got bitten by an alien jellyfish-thing and then this happened…

Then he started to melt away without actually dying…

Then he turned into a flesh cocoon…

And a day later he “grew” and turned into a human meat farm…

To feed this handsome critter.

What separates this Roger Corman cult classic from most others is that it actually has a clever plot element.  Whereas the researchers where trying to genetically engineer a productive new food source, Subject 20 (created with the same research) uses its likewise-engineered saliva to synthesize human bodies into protein-farming masses of flesh.  But don’t take that to mean that this is at all sophisticated or to be taken seriously.  I mean, two women taking a completely gratuitous shower together discuss communicating with the monster, which they decide to go do half-naked in super-short bath robes.  This doesn’t work out well.  The monster uses its Alien xenomorph-like tail to impale Barbara up her….ummmmm…you know.  Typical Corman schlocky stuff.

Naked Chick #1: “Okay, sooooo…I sort of have a neat idea and I wanna’ know what you think.”
Naked Chick #2: “Tee hee hee!  You already got me into the shower with you naked.”
Naked Chick #1: “No, it’s better.  So, we go find that alien that’s been killing everyone and–now here’s the great part–we try to negotiate with it in our bath robes…”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  I don’t understand.  This idea was so good!”

The special effects are charming.  The gore is deliciously overdone and super-abundant, the spaceships look abundantly fake, the monsters are cheap but entertaining, and then there’s even more gore.

What major sci-fi releases focus on–for example, character development, logical plots driven by character actions, and elaborately staged set pieces–Forbidden World throws right out of the window to give viewers a briskly paced 80-minute grindhouse experience.  Enjoy the ride.

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