B Movie Challenge: Forbidden Zone

Curiosity kills the cat… or in the case of 1983 Richard (brother of film composer Danny) Elfman cult classic Forbidden Zone, not only does it kill the cat, but before it does, the cat will be poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered (ouch is correct)! A film (more like a giant hallucinogenic music video of the weird-th kind) often teased and shown in clip art through cinema coffee table books, I had always wanted to see but was hard to get a hold of. Thank goodness we live in an era where everything (and darn right almost anything) is streamed online, the curiosity bug finally took over this kat… and I’ll never be the same again, and neither will you once you’ve experienced this film! There is a BFZ and an AFZ part of my life, and it will be the same for you once you feast your eyes on a movie that can only be described as a fever dream of someone who had a brain scan of their debaucherous evening while digesting every Hallucinogen known to man (or even animal) kind!

Instead of showing schlocky classics like Reefer Madness or The Cool and the Crazy, your high school guidance counselor (“Drugs are bad, m’kay!”) should have gotten a Betamax copy of this film, rolled in the giant Audio-Visiual cart from the school library, and put on a strobe light in the middle of the room while getting lost in the digestive system of this films cosmic performance! Originally released in black and white (and digitally colored in later years {thanks Ted Turner!}), this was a restaged film version of Elfman’s The Mystic Nights of Oingo Boingo’s (a musical theatre troup formed in the 70s) show. Elfman was quoted “Doing anything original is taking a chance. Financially it bankrupted me and we lost our house. But I’m still glad I did it (although I’d change a few things if I had a time machine).” I feel bad thinking about it, but after watching this movie, he lost his mind and the house. Although it never was a huge hit in theatres, it did play well in the midnight screening crowd and developed a loyal following over the years. 

As for the plot of this film… well, let’s be honest, I have no [CENSORED] clue (and I highly doubt you will either)! Supposedly (and I highly doubt it, no pun intended) our hero of the film, Mr. Huckleberry P. Jones, a known lowlife pimp and narcotics slumlord, goes to a home he (somehow) owns. Upon going through a magical door, he falls into the sixth dimension where he meets the likes of a Frog butler, A machine gun totting teacher, a king played by Tattoo from Fantasy Island, Academy Award Nominated Susan Tyrell (Fat City) in the weirdest outfits this side of Divine, and a very young Danny Elfman as the Devil himself (talk about a Dead Man’s Party). If you can figure out something else from there, congratulations, you win… well, I guess bragging rights for figuring it out (and many the sweet lord have mercy on your tortured soul!). If you can sit through the chaotic editing, the mix of surreal (and I would argue fascinating and creative) animation alongside neo-German expressionism sets (a neat connection that would grow in the later Elfman/Tim Burton catalog), and a wildly innovative soundtrack by Oingo Boingo, then pull up a chair, light up your imagination (Wink, Wink) and get ready to be lost in the seventh dimension when you come out the other side!

Boingoing your way at an Oingoy seventy-four minutes, and allowing Richard Elfman to go on to direct classics like Full Moon’s Shrunken Heads and Aliens, Clowns, & Geeks, the film has been altered (you’re not the only one George Lucus) from the original replacing the use of a clown face for a not-so-appropriate alternative. Aside from the occasional screening on April 20 (at the 4:20 am screening hardy-har-har) you can find this on most streamers like Prime and Tubi. So the next time you enter an abandoned house and find a wild closet door with 80s crazy music blasting from behind, do what other creepy houses usually say and “GET OUT!” … (just DO be afraid of what you CAN see in this movie!)

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

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