Never one to shy away from knockoffs; Roger Corman was always ready to capitalize on the fortunes of others. Corman's New World Pictures pumped out numerous low-budget films that have gone on to become cult classics. When "Jaws" hit it big, Corman produced the spoof/copy "Piranha," featuring the first credited work by filmmakers Joe Dante and John Sayles. After "Star Wars," New World was there with the space Western, "Battle Beyond the Stars." But, horror was what Corman and company did best. New World jumped on the bandwagon and produced "Galaxy of Terror" in 1981 and "Forbidden World" in 1982.
While "Galaxy of Terror" attempted to capture the same sort of psychological dread of "Alien," "Forbidden World" was a straight out killer monster movie. Corman also knew how to stretch a buck as many of the sets from "Galaxy" were re-used in "Forbidden World," adding to its H.R. Giger feel.
Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) is a renowned intergalactic troubleshooter. He is awakened from deep space hibernation by his robotic assistant SAM-104. Colby has received orders from Space Command or whoever his bosses are to report to the desert planet of Xarbia. There, a team of research scientists have issued a distress signal. Colby meets up with the facility's personnel including lead scientist Dr. Gordon Hauser (Linden Chiles), the brilliant and beautiful Dr. Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick), the eccentric bacteriologist Dr. Timbergen (Fox Harris), mechanic Brian Beales (Raymond Oliver), head of security Earl Richards (Scott Paulin), dim-witted janitor Jimmy (Michael Bowen), and the cute young lab assistant Tracy (Dawn Dunlap).
The brilliant minds stationed on Xarbia were working on an experiment to solve the galaxy's food shortage. Illegally using human DNA in their genetic research, the scientists have created a gruesome creature designated, Subject 20, though the crew have given it the ominous nickname of the "dingwhopper." Subject 20 is constantly mutating into a bigger and more dangerous creature. Even worse, it doesn't simply eat the doomed humans. It injects them with enzymes that melt them into a protoplasmic ooze of proteins that can be easily digested.
For a bunch of space explorers and genetic engineers, these folks don't exhibit the intelligence you'd think would be required. When Colby learns of the scientists' predicament, he immediately recommends they destroy the creature. Of course, the eggheads disagree. The poor janitor is the first to go after he decides what fun it would be to stick his head into the mutant's incubator. Even after everyone learns the deadly monster is on the loose, they don't seem to be in too much of a hurry to catch it. In fact, Colby and Dr. Glaser hop right into bed. The very next morning, Colby is putting the moves on a sweaty and naked Tracy in the sauna. No offense to Jesse Vint, but he's not exactly Han Solo. He looks more like a cross between Roy Scheider and Harry Dean Stanton.
There's plenty of flesh to go around in "Forbidden World." The film only has two female characters, but I'd say quality over quantity. Genre fans will recognize British actress June Chadwick from her role as one of the Visitors in the original "V." She brings some of that sexy ice queen aura to her portrayal of Dr. Glaser. Both she and Dawn Dunlap spend much of the film either naked or strolling around the corridors barefoot and wearing skimpy bathrobes. One scene features the ladies showering together. I thought there was a monster on the loose?
Dunlap may strip down to her birthday suit, but her character is downright annoying. She doesn't do anything except scream really loud at horrific things.
Aside from a healthy amount of skin, "Forbidden World" also features some strange editing. The movie begins with a dogfight in space that has no connection to the rest of the picture. Not surprising since the footage was taken from an earlier Corman production, "Battle Beyond the Stars." The sequence is cut in such a slapdash manner that there's no sense of orientation. You have no idea what direction everyone is flying in or which ships are shooting at which. Quick shots of the naked people from later in the film are dropped in even though they haven't happened yet. Adding to the eccentricities is the score by Susan Justin, which sounds like 80's synthesized porn music if composed by Vangelis.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture isn't as sharp as it should be, but it looks all right for a film that's almost 30 years old. There's the usual grain, but no discernable scratches or blemishes.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. It's not the most robust audio track, but the sound comes in crisp and clear.
The most substantial extra is a second disc containing an Unrated Director's Cut under the film's original title, "Mutant." This alternate version is presented in full frame with an additional 6 minutes of footage. Originally, "Forbidden World" contained more comedic elements which Corman insisted be removed. The picture quality is rather bad and looks like a VHS rip. It also features an audio commentary track with director Allan Holzman and moderated by critic Nathaniel Thompson.
The Making of Forbidden World (34:12) is a great behind-the-scenes featurette about the shooting the movie and the trappings of low-budget filmmaking.
Interview with Roger Corman (6:24) features Corman reminiscing about overseeing the production as well as the inner workings of New World.
Interview with Special Make-Up FX Artist John Carl Beuchler (14:19) features Beuchler discussing how he came to work for Corman and his work during the hectic schedule of "Forbidden World."
Rounding out the DVDs are poster and still galleries and a collection of trailers.
"Forbidden World" has everything you'd want in a B-movie: boobs, blood, and bad acting. Though the film is approximately 80 minutes long, it still tends to drag. The thin plot and gratingly annoying character of Tracy do little to alleviate the tedium.