October Horrorshow: Forbidden World

Roger Corman has caught a lot of heat in these pages for being a cheapskate. The man was, and still is, ruthless in his pursuit of efficiency in his productions. This has often been a detriment to his films. As a filmmaker, Corman could make better movies if he loosened the purse strings ever so slightly, but he always seems to err on the side of budget over art. That said, the man’s contributions to cinema, and shitty movies, cannot be overstated. Forbidden World, a Corman production from 1982, encapsulates just about everything that makes a movie shitty, and is an excellent example of the Corman style.

According to the internet, so it must be true, director Allan Holzman didn’t have much in the way of a screenplay when shooting began on Forbidden World, but that didn’t bother Corman. Time is money and the script was on its way. That script ended up being written by Tim Curnen, with story credits going to R.J. Robertson and future prolific b-filmmaker Jim Wynorski. I suppose someone had to be credited for this glorious mess, even if, at heart, it’s just another Alien ripoff.

Corman’s brand of cost-cutting is evident in the open — a space battle that has nothing to do with the plot, but is action-packed, and therefore useful to hook an audience. It also gave Corman another opportunity to crib effects shots from Battle Beyond the Stars. That flick was a real workhorse for Corman, with effects shots popping up in Corman sci-fi productions for over a decade after its release. Anyway…

Besides scratching an audience’s action itch, the opening introduces us to the film’s hero, Mike Colby (Jesse Vint). He’s a Han Solo-type, only he works for The Man, rather than as a smuggler. His latest assignment is to land at a remote research station on a space rock and deal with a creepy-crawly that the scientists accidentally let Forbidden World movie posterloose in their lab. The conceit is that when the creature attacks a person, it injects them with something that breaks down the human body into a pile of homogenous goo, which it eats. Or not, since the actual eating is only implied by cast members. The budget must not have been there for an effect.

The scientists had been working on a new sustainable food source because of exponential growth in human population. How this resulted in a man-eating monster is left to this flick’s less-than-convincing exposition, but that doesn’t matter. It’s just plausible enough to satisfy the basest curiosity in the viewer, and then the flick moves on to the good stuff. And what good stuff we get.

There is a lot of blood, a lot of gore, and enough gratuitous nudity to set a contemporary teenaged boy all aflutter. There are only two female members of the cast, in Dawn Dunlap and June Chadwick, but they answered Corman and Holzman’s sleazy call, the standout scene being when the two exposit while showering each other. Folks, this is what we were reduced to before the World Wide Web. Short of showing our faces in porn shops, we had to hope that whatever stupid b-movie we saw on cable after midnight had some breasts.

Behold, though this flick may be stupid and exploitative, it’s also quite entertaining. The gore is well done and quite disturbing at times. The creature effects, eh. The acting, ehhhhhh. But the pace is great, and the moments of cheapness, courtesy of Corman, are hilarious. Besides the reused footage, Corman reused sets from Galaxy of Terror. My favorite aspect of these sets, which are meant to imitate the Nostromo set from Alien, are the bits and bobs glued to the walls. Look closely, folks. The walls are lined with styrofoam dinner trays. One after the other. Floor to ceiling. I am not making that up. At least there was money in the budget to paint them.

As the film goes on, the creature whittles down the cast, leading to, of course, denouement.

Forbidden World has no surprises, breaks no new ground, and pursues its role as a commodity with capitalistic efficiency. Along the way viewers are given plenty of distractions, and Holzman, who has spent the majority of his career as an editor, showed a better than average skill behind the camera.

I didn’t expect it, but, Forbidden World is shitty gold. It takes over the #61 spot from the very similar Leviathan, and is a welcome addition to the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index.

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