Rhonda Shear and Roger Corman. The first a vixen of B-movie trash; pulp queen and screamer and easy on the eyes. Corman's name synonymous with cinematic exploitation and science fiction rubbish. Before Roger Corman, no one had ever heard of Jack Nicholson or Francis Ford Coppola or Joe Dante, though film may have fared well nonetheless without Corman's producer's credits in hundreds of films from the late sixties up until the 90's. So what do the two have in common aside from a not so noteworthy similarity in B-movie cultdom? Just nostalgic names from my youth; between USA's Up All Night hosted by Shear and some of my favorite cheap movies made by gonzo filmmakers, namely Piranha (1978), Galaxy of Terror, Carnosaur, Humanoids from the Deep, Frankenstein Unbound, and Forbidden World.
The good folks at Shout Factory have been kind enough to rerelease many of Corman's classics thus far. I already listed them but for the sake of thoroughness, up to now we have new presentations for Piranha, no doubt helped by Alexandre Aja's campy, hilarious, and graphically over the top redux, Deathrace 2000, Humanoids from the Deep, Rock 'N Roll High School, Galaxy of Terror, and Forbidden World. I have fond memories of all of these films, in some way significant somehow to the world of filmdom, but more specifically I have this false memory of viewing Forbidden World several times on Up All Night, though according to Wikipedia, Forbidden World never actually aired on USA's weekend schlock show. Maybe the memory is displaced, but the point is that I recall it well enough, and loved it in my adolescence when I was far more forgiving to lower budgets and fractured storytelling.
Yes, Forbidden World is the definition of science fiction on the cheap. It's basically what you'd get if you took the awesome elements of Alien, the Thing, and a jacked up entry in the Emmanuelle series and added their respective budgets, then divided by 6. Contrived, yes. Derivative, hell yeah. Sleazy for the sake of, well, being sleazy, that's a yep. But don't let that make you think I don't love the film. Quite the contrary.
Jesse Vint plays Mike Colby, the captain and only crew member of a spaceship called to planet Xarbia to help a group of scientists contain an escaped experiment known as Subject 20. Accompanied by his robot companion SAM-104, Mike meets a motley crew of scientists and techs stationed there, all suffering from cabin fever and raging sex drives, at least in the case of the two ladies there. Yeah, we see them nekkid several times, for no reason really other than to show two ladies without their clothes on. Monster effects that are guffaw inducing and knee slappingly laughable but so unassumingly sincere that you look forward to each new special effect and mutation of Subject 20. I could go on about the plot, but that's hardly what makes the movie so much fun.
For starters, Jesse Vint was really the only legitimate actor present. Seemingly a permanent extra for CBS dramas from Bonanza through TJ Hooker. The show revolves around him and he knows it, eating up each scene as hamfistedly as he can, only outdone by the sheer absurdity of Fox Harris' character Dr. Cal Timberlin who overacts so much that you'd think he was going for an Oscar. Several of the other male cast are notably hysterical in how they portray their characters and the seriousness with which they imbue their roles, even though it's so beyond absurd it's impossible not to watch. But also over the top and not to be outdone are the two female roles in the film. One an unrecognized scream queen, the other a symbol of feminine stoicism they're really there for eye candy, appearing throughout the film in various modes of undress, lending anything but credibility to the film.
To say that Forbidden World has never looked as good as it does in Shout Factory's blu-ray presentation would be selling their work here short. So far all of their work in bringing Corman's lost gems to high def light has been outstanding considering the source materials. Grain is still present, but clarity is phenomenal considering the age of the print and the duress that's likely befallen it over the years. Colors pop and details are fantastic. It does look a bit rough in spots, but the repair that's been done is outstanding when compared to past home video renditions of the film. The audio as well is great all around. Surprisingly clear and well mastered, popping appropriately and never so quiet it's obnoxious as well as never so loud it's startling. There's also plenty of extras here for true connoisseurs of schlock, informative and rounding out the disc exceptionally well. I've yet to burn through them all, but definitely looking forward to what few I have left.
Never let it be said that I take my movies too seriously. Yeah, I'm proud of having a quality selection of blu's to sift through for random movie nights, but damn if I'm not pretentious. I'm loving that we're getting this series of Corman classics on blu-ray, a format I'm sure no one at New Horizon Pictures ever foresaw their meager budgeted films attaining. Even with the flaws that are undeniably present, from the script to the performances to the production, it's absurd but also amazingly fun and atmospheric. Its gore encrusted and hilariously incompetent eroticism only add to the character of the film, and for something that's a straight rip-off of countless superior science fiction and horror films, it stands on its own better than most other movies of its ilk. Forbidden World is given the royal treatment by Shout Factory here, with picture quality that won't make your jaw drop but will surprise with the detail and vibrancy they managed to elicit to the decent audio and great suite of special features, this dumb flick is a no-brainer. Fans of schlock and Corman aficionados should all take heed to this series of blu's from Shout Factory, and use Forbidden World for a springboard to B-movie awesomeness.