Sunday, May 20, 2007

Overlooked Movies: Forbidden Zone

When Forbidden Zone first came out in 1982, I had lost my shirt paying for it and moved back to France for a while. When I returned, the film had played out its summer theatrical run and seemed to disappear. It wasn't until a few years ago, when I went on line with my first website and had several hundred thousand hits from people all over the world, that I realized that the film had become some sort of a cult hit. What was more surprising was that much of the following were students who weren't even around in the days of the Mystic Knights. I guess the film has "legs," although an oddly twisted, black and white set of them.~ Director Richard Elfman

A mysterious door in the basement of the Hercules house leads to the Sixth Dimension by way of a gigantic set of intestine. When Frenchy slips through the door, King Fausto falls in love with her. The jealous Queen Doris takes Frenchy prisoner, and it is up to the Hercules family and friend Squeezit Henderson to rescue her.

Click here to watch the trailer:

Click here to watch the opening sequence:

A chaotic musical fantasy.

Fun Trivia:
Director Richard Elfman and star Marie-Pascale Elfman, who were married at the time, financed the movie by buying, renovating and selling houses. They ran out of money and the movie was rescued by a benefactor.

This movie was originally a series of musical productions done first in 16mm, then expanded and re-shot in 35mm. The movie was shot in black and white not for any artistic vision but because they didn't have enough money for color film. The storyline about the adventures of a family who explore the 6th Dimension was added later to tie everything together.

The headlines on Pa's newspapers are:
-Man Bites Dog Then Bites Self
-French Girl Missing, Strange Circumstances.
-Two More Missing, Similar Circumstances.

Frenchy's singing voice is Josephine Baker's. She is singing one of Josephine's classics "La Petite Tonkinoise" and when the family sings "Some of These Days," Pa's voice is supplied by Cab Calloway.

The strange pair of singers who appear during the Bim Bam Boom number and who sing in gibberish is the performance art duo The Kipper Kids (Martin von Haselberg & Brian Routh) they also appeared in the great Weird Al movie UHF. Extra factoid Martin is married to Bette Midler.

Not only is this Danny Elfman's first film as composer, it also marks the first appearance of his band Oingo Boingo, here billed as the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo.

Click here to watch Danny Elfman as Satan sing a little tune called Squeezit The Moocher:

Susan Tyrell was convinced by Richard Elfman to appear in the film, and in turn brought in Herve Villechaize. Villechaize and Tyrell had been a real-life couple as well.

Click here to watch Susan Tyrell vamp it up in song:

According to Matthew Bright in the film's commentary, in the original conception of his classroom humiliation scene, Squeezit was supposed to be castrated in front of the other students.

The pin-up girl painting that King Fausto (Herve Villechaize) works on was done by Los Angeles-area painter Robert Blue, which was stolen from the painter's studio not long after the film's completion. In real life however, Villechaize was himself a skilled painter.

Several family members and business associates of director Richard Elfman's appear in the film in various roles: his then-wife Marie-Pascale Elfman and brother Danny Elfman (both of whom performed with him in the Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo theater troupe); his grandfather Herman Bernstein plays The Old Yiddish Man; and the brothers' father Milton Elfman, appearing both as a factory worker and a background singer. Hyman Diamond (who plays Grampa Hercules), was Richard Elfman's real estate broker, appearing under a pseudoynm after the original actor fell through. Two of Richard Elfman's tenants from one of his real estate properties agreed to make cameos, as girls going into the classroom. Actor/writer Matthew Bright (a childhood friend of Danny Elfman's), and actor Gene Cunningham (credited as Ugh-Fudge Bwana) were themselves members of the brothers' Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo as well.

Fun Quotes:
Ma: Flash, be sure and tie your grandfather up and check the knots real good. While he was sniffing around for food yesterday, he nearly wandered into the Forbidden Zone.

Chicken: You know the chickens are always ready to help you any way we can. But as you know...
Squeezit: What can chickens do?
Chicken: Precisely.

Queen Doris: Why does it feel so good to be sooooo bad?

King Fausto: I will have a whole army of zombies! A zombie Marine Corps, a zombie Navy Corps, zombie Space Cadets...

Satan: [singing to princess] Be nice to me, babe or you'll regret it. You are my hostage and don't you forget it. The night is early and there's lots to be done. Lets boogy now, come on, we're gonna have some fun.


Heidi Nyburg said...

Oingo Boingo, a frog in a tuxedo AND the guy from Fantasy Island. Must see Forbidden Zone. Immediately.

Becca said...

You haven't seen it? Run! Go now see it soon! Brilliant movie.

Allen Lulu said...

Woo Hoo! And the FoZone revolution continues, unabated!

Semaj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Semaj said...

Hey, thanks for posting the Mimi-moocher song. I loved this song in Blues Brothers and I like this version of it too. It's just a cool song

I'm a Danny Elfman fan and this is treat.

I guess the Chick spends most of the movie topless.

SamuraiFrog said...

The ENTIRE movie. It still haunts my most pleasurable dreams...

Becca said...

It's a fever! Catch it!

If you are a Danny Elfman fan then you need to check this movie out. It's fabulous! And of course topless chicks throughout the movie don't hurt.

Somehow I always imagined your dreams to be a little like this movie. :)

Allen Lulu said...

No need, Becca. I;m the one who told Frog to watch it in the first place. Been a die hard FoZoner for 23 years. We watch in annually. Now on DVD!

Becca said...

Yeah I couldn't help myself with that stupid fever comment.

In anycase I've been catching all the comment threads on Electronic Cerebrectomy. Thanks for the reccomend it really paid off!

smallerdemon said...

Showing June 2, 11:45 PM in San Francisco at the excellent Roxie Cinema. Yes, I have tickets.

Ah, and it's the same theater where I saw Haute Tension (the second time).

Becca said...

I know! and I am so jealous! The closest this tour comes to me is Kentucky and I'm in northern Illinois...those bastards!

I hope you have fun though!

smallerdemon said...

:) Thanks. I'll see if I can sneak a camera in for shots of the line and such. It will be excellent fun. My wife introduced FZ to me when we first got together nearly 15 years ago, so it's a bit of a romantic attendance. :) (Hey, we romantically got together the day after a road trip to Rocky Horror, what can I say?)

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