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IN DEFENSE OF Forbidden World (1982)

ACCUSATION: Alien rip-off

DEFENSE: Alien:Forbidden World=Jaws:Piranha

It came from Roger Corman (in case you couldn’t tell from the sexed-out nerd porn movie poster)! One part jump-on-the-bandwagon of Alien, but kinda original overall. Is it exploitation? Is it art? Is it sci/fi soft core? Yes, maybe, sure…  

Recently unearthed on Blu-ray as a “cult classic,” the little-seen Forbidden World is probably best known for being its alternate International, yet unused domestically title, Mutant. At the tail end of another successful B-Movie run during the 70s, Roger Corman was now known for launching the careers of some of Hollywood’s hottest new directors. He was also known for being an incredible cheap-ass, recycling sets from previous productions until they were no longer needed.

After shooting his previous “cult classic” Galaxy of Terror (also now on Blu-ray, by the way), he quickly commissioned a handful of script pages for his next, yet unnamed project. The cheesy space attack sequence opens Forbidden World, and has very little to do with the rest of the movie. Director Allan Holzman kind of rectifies that issue before the sequence, while our lead hero (bounty hunter Mike Colby) dreams in hibernation. With trippy flash forwards that include heavy nudity, plenty of action and gross-out gore, it’s fairly a unexpected subliminal freak-out. Coincidentally, Holzman began with Corman as an editor.

Once the credits roll, the plotting is pretty quick. It’s the simple story of man versus monster, done a thousand times before and a thousand times since. A team of space scientists battles their genetic mutation experiment-gone-bad, and one-by-one they’re picked off by the half-human “Subject 20.” One could even say Forbidden World is a low-brow/budget ancestor to the recent splatter shocker Splice. It at least shares some of its DNA.

When it’s not caught up on B-movie conventions like gratuitous nudity (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or a dorky side-kick robot for comedy relief (with a blatantly Stormtrooper helmet), the movie often rises above the Corman level. Some of the effects are top-notch, designed by John Carl Buechler. The final mutation of his Alien creature is typical Buechler puppetry (kind of an early variation on his man-eating TerrorVision alien) – slimy and layered with teeth. The design on the early stages of the creature are truly scary, with a face-hugger/larva that almost rivals the one that attacked the Nostromo.

As mentioned, Shout has released this and a few other 70s/80s Corman films as part of their ongoing “Cult Classics” series. It would have been enough to have a good transfer for the rerelease. What you get with the Blu-ray is shockingly stunning picture quality. The film’s never looked better, nor was it supposed to look this good. Supplemental documentaries and interviews round out the goods, but it’s the secondary DVD of the “director’s cut” that true fans of the flick have wanted to get their hands on. It’s less remastered (if even at all) and presented in a cropped 4:3, but of interest to those that have asked for it. Best yet, you can invert the Blu-ray sleeve for Forbidden World and PRESTO it’s packaging for Mutant! Shout Factory is completely tuned in to their core audience on this release. Geek on!

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