Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Forbidden Zone

I really like movies. I like movies a lot. It's gotten to a point where I can't even enjoy movies that used to be important to me, because my new found in depth interest in film has me over analyzing to the point that I'm almost distracted.

This is why I generally take it with a grain of salt when someone recommends a film to me. Film is fickle art form, what's good today may not stand the test of time, and things that are important now could have slipped under the radar in it's heyday. Also, I'm kind of a snob, so when a friend of mine told me that I absolutely must see Forbidden Zone, I was hearkened back to a time in my childhood when someone told me that Vanilla Sky or Requiem for a Dream would change my life.

By the time the opening credits started rolling, I was glad that I submitted to my friend's suggestion.

This film opens with a flimsy backstory of a pimp, a lanky blackfaced charicature, who wanders upon a house that filled with drugs. He takes the drugs and sells the house to the Hercules family.

The plot for the film is very loose, it revolves around a house with a secret door in the basement that transports all who enter into the sixth dimension. The plot, really just an engine for the musical numbers performed by Danny Elfmann and the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, follows the tribulations of Frenchy Hercules, played by Marie-Pascale Elfmann, in the sixth dimension. She is captured and held hostage by King Fausto, expertly realized by Herv Villechaize, and Queen Doris, played by Villechaize's real life wife Susan Tyrell. She is followed into the sixth dimension by her brother, her grandfather, a deaf and dumb champion Jewish professional wrestler.

What follows is innane and wonderous. Hand made sets, fantastic hand drawn animations and a cut-and-paste floating head that required a photographic print to be made from every frame of a minute and a half long shot, hand cut and pasted onto individual animation cells.

The movie is mind numbingly...well, the best word for it, and I say this only because I mean it...it's mind numbingly trippy. It will make your brain pop very quickly. There's imagery galore that seems to be included just to make you slap your forehead and drop your jaw. A lot of the performances seem wooden, but if you take into consideration that this film is stylisticly cued and was created as a stage show, it makes more sense. It has a great theater vibe that permeates every aspect, from the sets to the acting and the music.

I tend to shy from spoilers, but if I haven't convinced you to go out and get this movie, then I will tell you this. Danny Elfmann plays Satan and sings a rendition of Minnie the Moocher.

Still not satisfied? Midget sex. Yep, there's midget sex and lots of titties. Titties, rape, gender bending, school room shootings, racism, animal cruelty, dilusional schizophrenia, and The Kipper Kids.

The version I first saw was the original full frame 35mm black and white version, but I recently picked up is the 2008 DVD release, which was digitally colored, but in a style that looks more like a tint job. The process was overseen by the director. The coloration doesn't attempt to modernize the film, it doesn't stick out or look over done, and enhances the overall experience of watching the movie which was originally filmed with the intent to colorize for it's theatrical release.

The film, which was direccted by Richard Elfmann represented the divergeance of the theater troop and the band that made up Oingo Boingo at the time. Danny took the band and blazed paths in the world of sythesized music and, of course, went on later to become one of the most highly recognized film score composers. Richard went on to live in relative obscurity, directing a few Oingo Boingo documentaries and some made for TV movies.

The DVD also includes a decent set of special features including a colorized trailer, some deleted scenes, a 16:9 anamorphic widescreen cut, 5.1 surround, and an extended ending which is titled "The Passion of the Squeezit"

Don't waste any time; rent, or if you can, buy it tonight.

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