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The bizarre and musical tale of a girl who travels to another dimension through the gateway found in her family's basement.
For more about Forbidden Zone and the Forbidden Zone Blu-ray release, see Forbidden Zone Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 17, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Richard Elfman
Writers: Matthew Bright (I), Nick L. Martinson, Richard Elfman, Nicholas James (I)
Starring: Herve Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, Gisele Lindley, Jan Stuart Schwartz, Marie-Pascale Elfman, Virginia Rose (I)
» See full cast & crew
Forbidden Zone Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 17, 2012
Richard Elfman's "Forbidden Zone" (1982) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video. The supplemental features on the disc include an original theatrical trailer; long featurette with cast and crew interviews; outtakes; deleted scenes; music video by Oingo Boingo; and an audio commentary with director Richard Elfman and writer-actor Matthew Bright. The disc also arrives with collectible artworks, poster, and a collector's booklet featuring writing on the film by director Richard Elfman and Critic David Hayles illustrated with stills from the private collection of Richard and Danny Elfman. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Here's a film that is unlike any other film. It is a clichéd line, but Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone truly is unlike any other film ever made. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends strictly on one's definitions of good and bad – at least as far as film is concerned. My opinion of Forbidden Zone falls somewhere in between the traditional definitions of the two, I think.
Actually, I am unsure what to think of Forbidden Zone as I am unsure if I understood what the film was about. I could describe a few sequences, I think, but I have no idea what to make of the rest. I remember a long time ago I had a similar experience with Dusan Makavejev's Sweet Movie, but there is a tiny thread in it which I was able to follow and after multiple viewings decipher its message. I did not discover a thread in Forbidden Zone, and I am fairly confident there aren't any. (If there are fans of the film that disagree with me and are willing to prove me wrong, I am ready to listen).
I believe that this is the plot: The Hercules family purchase a new home from a drug dealer. In their basement, they discover a secret portal that leads straight to the Sixth Dimension a.k.a The Forbidden Zone. Frenchy (Marie-Pascale Elfman) accidentally slips and falls on the other side, which is ruled by King Fausto (Hervé Villechaize), a happy midget with a passion for art. Stunned by her beauty, King Fausto immediately falls in love with Frenchy and thus angers his wife, the luscious Queen Doris (Susan Tyrell).
Meanwhile, members of the Hercules family go after Frenchy to save her. By the time they arrive in the Forbidden Zone King Fausto has already lost his mind, while Queen Doris has gone on a mission to reclaim him from Frenchy. All the drama wakes up the real ruler of the Forbidden Zone, Satan (Danny Elfman), who decides to clean up the place and bring things back to normal.
I should give credit where credit is due: director Richard Elfman clearly was not afraid to experiment. The problem is he did not have the budget to give his film the style it needs and the right actors to make it look convincing. A few of the music numbers and sex scenes are fine, but the rest of the footage looks painfully amateurish.
The editing is beyond puzzling – if any was actually done. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that anyone knew exactly what the finished film should look like. The cuts look completely random. The cartoon inserts also serve no specific purpose.
The acting is as good as one would want it to be. I thought that the majority of the actors looked very happy to improvise because they must have been told that they could do anything they want and get away with it. After a while, however, the odd behavior and meaningless lines really become annoying.
The film does have a good soundtrack courtesy of Danny Elfman. The final third of the film, in particular, has a few decent scenes where the visuals and the music manage to complement each other. However, the rest is an incomprehensible mess that I found very difficult to endure.
Arrow Video's Blu-ray release of Forbidden Zone features two versions of the film: a black and white version, which was the original version completed in 1982, and a color version. The color version of the film was apparently completed in 2008, under director Elfman's supervision.
Note: In 1981, Forbidden Zone was nominated for Saturn Award for Best Low-Budget Film.
Forbidden Zone Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video.
The screencaptures included with our review appear in the following order:
1. Forbidden Zone (Original version): 1-15.
2. Forbidden Zone (Color version): 16-29.
The press materials I was sent state that this new director-approved Blu-ray edition of Forbidden Zone features HD restorations of the black and white and color versions of the film - and indeed both look quite good. Detail and clarity are very pleasing, while contrast levels remain stable from start to finish. Color reproduction is also convincing, with the black and white version of the film looking slightly more organic. However, the best news is that there are absolutely no traces of problematic sharpening. Severe degraining corrections have not been performed either. Naturally, there is a layer of light grain throughout the entire film. This said, compression could have been slightly better, and some of the tiny flecks that occasionally pop up could have been cleaned up. Nevertheless, for an ultra low-budget film the presentation is certainly more than satisfying. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Forbidden Zone Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are five audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc. Original version: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0, and Music DTS 5.1. Color version: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Arrow Video have provided optional English SDH subtitles for both versions of the film.
I watched the original version of Forbidden Zone with the English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track and was very pleased with it. It has a good range of dynamics and plenty of depth, which I found rather surprising considering the fact that the film apparently had an ultra low budget. The dialog was also pleasingly stable and crisp. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 has a notably wider range of nuanced dynamics, but the surround channels do not impress. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track from the color version appears to have identical technical characteristics (the Spanish number with the boxers around the 18-minute mark sounds exactly the same on both versions of the film).
Forbidden Zone Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this release are perfectly playable on North American Blu-ray players, including the PS3.
Forbidden Zone Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone is one of the most bizarre films I have ever seen. To be honest, I am unsure how I feel about it - some of the eccentric episodes could be entertaining, but the rest is too wacky and just plain weird. Give Arrow Video a lot of credit for bringing this film to Blu-ray because there really isn't anything quite like it on the market. Fans of the film should be very pleased with this release.
Forbidden Zone: Other Editions
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Forbidden Zone Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Forbidden Zone Blu-ray - January 27, 2012
Independent British distributors Arrow Films will release on Blu-ray director Richard Elfman's Forbidden Zone (1982), starring Hervé Villechaize, Susan Tyrrell, and Gisele Lindley. In 1981, the film was nominated for Saturn Award for Best Low-Budget Film. Street ...
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