Jan Stuart Schwartz
Musical Weirdo Mondo
Trivia Herve Villechaize and Susan Tyrell were lovers at the time of filming.
Herve Villechaize was, at Fantasy Island's peak, the most famous midget on the planet, although sadly he comitted suicide in 1990.
Danny Elfman went on to become very famous.
A reworking of the theme tune is used in the Dilbert cartoon series.
Joe Spinnel, of Maniac and Starcrash fame is in this too. No, really.
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Forbidden Zone (1980)
30th Aug 06
A weird door in the basement of the Hercules house leads to the Sixth Dimension by way of a giant intestine. When Frenchy slips through the door, King Fausto falls for her, but the jealous Queen Doris takes Frenchy prisoner, and it is up to the Hercules family and friend Squeezit Henderson to rescue her.
It's not every day that something as weird and wonderful as Forbidden Zone turns up on your doorstep, in fact it's quit easy to say that even after watching this absurd cinematic oddity, I can still hardly believe it. Similarly, I don't really know where to start telling you about it as it's such a wild tale that I wouldn't blame you if you didn't believe a word I said - I know I wouldn't. But it's all true, I have watched it and here I am, so we might as well get on with it. I just wanted you to prepare yourself for what was to come.
So, when an Al Jolson look-alike crack dealer finds a doorway to another dimension in his basement, he promptly sells the house to the equally nutty Hercules family, setting up eldest daughter of the family, Susan B. ''Frenchy'' as the heroine of this bizarre piece. Bored after another dull day at school where the only highlight is a machine gun shoot out between her teacher and the table of pimps that sit at the back, Frenchy returns home determined to give that door in the basement a go despite a desperate warning from her parents not to go anyway near it. Once she opens the door, Frenchy is pulled headfirst into the super weird Forbidden Zone, where she soon finds herself a guest of the pervy midget King Fausto (Herve Villechaize of The Man with the Golden Gun and Fantasy Island fame), his wife Queen Doris (former Oscar nominee and general Hollywood bad girl Susan Tyrell), and their perpetually topless daughter, Princess (Giselle Lindley).
The problem King Fausto has is, I guess, shared by most kings and it is simply that, with only a dancing frog butler, robotic boxers, obese maidens in bikinis, the Mystic Knights of Oingo-Boingo and Satan himself there to entertain him, he's pretty bored. And to relieve his boredom he's decided he needs a new concubine to keep him busy, and that's where Frenchy comes in.
Thank goodness then for Frenchy's brother Flash (Phil Gordon), her Grampa (Hyman Diamond) and her half man half chicken friend Squeezit, as they race across the Forbidden Zone to try and rescue her. Will they make it though? Or will the jealous queen get to her first and deal with her in the same way she's dealt with other would be suitors in the past? Well who knows, I guess you'll just have to watch this piece of cinematic weirdness and find out for yourself.
What an adventure you'll have along the way though, if that is you have the stomach. For make no mistake, this is as fucked as movies get. It looks cheap, what with half the sets looking like they we're rejected from Rainbow and everything, and it is cheap too, filmed in black and white for no other reason than they couldn't afford colour film. And to be fair the plot is more than a little ridiculous, coming across as little more than an excuse to string a bunch of outlandish and elaborate musical numbers together. But it has to be said that all the big numbers are quality, which is no surprise when you discover the musical heritage behind them. Written by Matthew Bright and Richard Elfman (who also directed), Forbidden Zone began life as an attempt to capture on film what Richard and brother Danny had been doing on stage with their musical theatre group the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo, and in that respect they succeeded. Forbidden Zone captures their anarchy and energy perfectly and features the entire troupe, including founders Richard, his wife at the time Marie-Pascale as Frenchy, brother Danny as Satan, childhood friend Gene Cunningham as Pa Hercules and finally collaborator and now a writer / director in his own right, Matthew Bright, who plays both Squeezit and Squeezit's sister Rene, would you believe.
So if you're intrigued, and if you have the stomach for it, I thoroughly recommend Forbidden Zone. It's loud, cheap and crass, but also strangely hypnotic, and I'm sure it'll be the perfect tonic if you like your films a little on the weird side. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Versions Available on DVD from Arrow Films. The UK edition comess with some pretty decent features too, including an extensive making of doc.
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